Thursday, February 26, 2009

Psychological Warfare

For Fat Tuesday, Gyna finds out about a bar with $3 liters of something that sounds delicious. We leave right after work and take Bowser dze German, who introduces us to his friend Philip, who is also from Germany and visiting Chicago.

"So how did you like the Field Museum?" I ask after a few. I am a Member of the Field Museum, which means I have a fancy tote bag and my name on a bunch of mailing lists.

"It was nothing. It was crap," Philip shrugs.

"What?" I bug out at Gyna.

"I know, I told them to get Mold-A-Rama dinosaurs and everything.”

“The whole thing was a little Discovery Channel," Bowser laughs.

Exactly. That’s why it’s awesome,” I mutter. Philip looks at me and mouths egzakilty? I nod.

“Ja, egzaktily, with the gift shop and Sue dollies,” he mocks. “Tell us where we find out about dze real American dinosaurs. Wie sagt, ah, intelligent design and wonderful nonsense."

“Oooooo, like the Creation Museum." Gyna raises her eyebrows.

"Egzaktily! There is one?"

"In Kentucky,” I explain. “I went last year, and it is hilarious. They hate Darwin because he’s the devil. And they murder lambs like over and over and they have their own Garden of Eden and the guards have rifles and it’s goddamn wicked ridiculous."

"It is good? Are you a Creation…nista?”

“No, but I also don’t believe in talking mouses, and I—“

“Mice,” Gyna and Bowser correct me, grinning. Simpatico, those two.

“What?  What did I say?”

“Mouses. You said mouses.”

 “Yeah, well. Mice. Whatever, I would go to Disneyland tomorrow if I had the funds. Oh! And they have hip archangels who wear drug rugs and sunglasses and talk like they’re from California and talk about how science is wack and Jesus is your homeboy.”

"Well, that is what I want to do then." Philip turns to Bowser. "We will go tomorrow?"

"I can't. I have work."

"But it is so...America. Christians...und, and...and guns! Don’t be wack."

"I want to go, but I leave for Houston tomorrow," Gyna whimpers.

There's a slim needle of silence. The last time I went to the Creation Museum I caught a lot of atheistic hell for ‘supporting ignorance and everything that is wrong with America’ and ‘giving them money so they can teach our children mythology instead of science’ and I’m like, yeah, but, you know. Funny. "Fuck it. I got personal days.  Let’s go.”

"You'll go? Really? Wickedawesome!"

"Ausgezeichnet!" I say, which is a German word I think I understand but really don’t.

We agree on a five-thirty am departure and slow down the beer before scattering home.

"I made a friend dzis morning when you were late with your car," Philip says at five-fifty-five, coiled with patience while I house my coffee.

"And how is that?”

"A young man came up to me, ja? and he said to draw my portrait. So I gave him ten US dollars."

"Dude. Schmuck."

"Schmuck? Schmuck. And yes, I know, I know, but it was such a nice portrait." He pulls a pencil sketch out of his jacket and shows it to me. It's horrible.

I laugh like a wrecking ball. “He gave you a ponytail.”

He smiles with pride. "Yes, well I now know I need haircut. I think it’s wickedawesome."

"It's on the back of an excel spreadsheet."

"Axel spredshit? Oh I know, I gave him dze, ah, the paper."

"And apparently ten dollars. You could have just given that to me, you know."

"I like to think dhat I pay for a story to relate."

Philip flicks the sentence aside with his odd translational English and admires his shitty portrait. I’m jealous. No young man ever asked to draw my portrait for ten US dollars, and I’m a nubile lady. A friend of mine has a face like a gently carved bolt of lightning, and artists are always trying to catch it on paper and hilariously failing. She isn’t a professional model or anything, just a breathing muse.  But you can’t capture the shattering sincerity of lightning bolts without the right lens, yet they keep trying.  Now I’m jealous of her too.  Dammit.

We drive for a while.  Kentucky is far from Chicago and we don’t have any directions, but I don’t think we need them since I read road maps when I’m in the bathroom.  Perhaps maps would be more useful in the car.  “If we hit Indianapolis, we’re going the right way.  All the roads lead to Indianapolis.”

“Similar to Rome. I think that is wickedawesome,” Philip grins.  “We will arrive.”

“Good. I don’t stop in Indiana, even for directions. People here keep bodies in their basements.”

“Why would they do that?”

“I don’t know.  Because I have unwarranted prejudice.”

“Why is that?”

“I think it’s the accent.  There’s a soft, um, hostile—?” I glance at him and he nods—“pattern to speech here.  As if people don’t trust you. It’s probably unintentional.”

 “Are we driving between the Bible area of America? Perhaps they know you have so little respect for them."

“I guess.  But we aren’t in the Bible Belt.  Not right now.”

"Belt? As if for trousers? It supports what covers the sin—that’s intelligent. I wish we were.”

“We will arrive.”

 Two hours in and I have to remind myself that I should not speak English like a river, but a light rain. I apologize to Philip about this but he thinks it's hilarious.  I complain about Journey for like a bajillion minutes. After five hours and only one false exit all that quality bathroom time with maps proves worthwhile and we turn onto Bullittsburg Church Road where the museum lives.

Families scuttle around the parking lot like beetles, and the Creation Museum thrums dead center with the Garden of Eden dinosaur topiary rolling muddy and green beside it.  Philip strolls towards the doors and opens them with flourishing reverence, on the cusp of jest, but only because I realize that doors should always be opened that way.  I mean with honesty and zeal, never as a flippant remark on genuine excitement.

I watch him marvel as we walk the path through Genesis. There’s an alien alchemy to the Creation Museum, where bunnies and Velociraptors share honeycombs and drops of morning dew. I touch Philip’s shoulder and point to a red snake in the trees, glittering like a Chinese dragon while Adam and Eve bathe in a pool. I blush at their nakedness. Bearded Philip looks eerily like Naked Adam and I tell him so. Naked Adam is not necessarily a dreamboat, but it makes me picture Philip naked. I glance at his jaw. There is something about jaws, but not Philip’s jaw, which is good. Who needs a crush inspired by anatomically biblical mannequins and frivolous jawlines?

 He snaps a picture of the exhibit.  “A second portrait,” he explains.

I watch Philip as Adam and Eve slaughter a lamb on an altar for clothing, and study his curious face while Cain shadows over a bloody Abel. He thoughtfully regards the miniature model of Noah’s Ark where giraffes and horses and Brachiosauruseseses board the vessel in pairs.

I drag him to the flood diorama because it’s my favorite: scrappy, quarter-inch figures scramble on scarred rocks, wrestling bears and punting each other into the waxy, jagged sea. They’re determined to survive even after Noah didn’t pick them for his survivor team. I loiter for a while, memorizing their sins. “I just love how they try,” I say, and then turn to smile up at Philip, but he’s across the room.

Philip floats through it all, casual as a sonnet. He is here without a trace of irony, I realize.  It makes me jealous again, so I counter these bursts of jealousy by repeatedly calling myself a stupid, jealous bitch and or telling myself to drop it. Like a dog. Drop it. Drop et. Humanity has come so far from the days of sharing honeycombs with Velociraptors.  We hear drums in the distance, horror over the death of Christ and mourn for him. It is, after all, the greatest story ever told. In this building, and nowhere else, I want to believe. Only when I am here, I think, because they deserve that much. Science really can be used to verify a predetermined outcome. (No, it can’t.) But the museum is beautiful. We take lots of pictures.

“They don’t do, ah,” Philip makes the sign of the cross on his forehead, “Ash Wednesday.”

 “No, Creationists think Catholicism is evil.” Up ahead, an animatronic prophet is writing ancient texts.  “Are you Catholic?”

Philip sniffs. “Germany is very Catholic. And yes, we are evil. Remember the Holocaust? And Indiana Jones films?”

We stroll through the garden because that is how one is supposed to walk through gardens, stopping at the petting zoo to admire the zedonks and there’s a terrifying turkey thundering next to a camel. Philip pets a pig. I try to feed a wallaby but it runs away.

We decide to stop in Cincinnati for a bowl of chili and hit up a White Castle instead.

“White Castle,” I explain between bites, “Is the quintessential American food. It’s our entire cultural mindset packed into a square. I always want more White Castle, but in reality I don't need it. Ever. Because the idea of White Castle fundamentally opposes its physical manifestation – what we have is this. And then I have to pay the price for fantasy and indulgence. With my bowels."

“So...America makes you shit?" Philip winks. Why don’t people wink anymore?

I laugh, burning words. "No. No, not at all. But—yes. Because everything we love becomes shit. Because we smash it til it’s unrecognizable and then we mercilessly ridicule that which was once good until all that's left is poorly executed snark.”

"So...White Castle is snark?"

"I guess this has nothing to do with White Castle."

Later on Philip asks if we can stop in Indianapolis for a pair of Vans.

“What are you thinking?” I ask as we browse Shoe Carnival.

“I am thinking today was, ha, wickedawesome. I think when you come to Germany I know where I will take you, egzaktily.”

I've been given so much crap for supporting this museum just by paying to go there. But seriously, it's like Disney World, but with Jesus and dinosaurs and mass slaughter, and dead sheep are just lying all over the place. Completely macabre, like they're trying to scare you into agreement.

The propaganda tactics employed throughout the place are genius. Sometimes very, very subtle, and sometimes outright obvious. Every exhibit is designed with the distinct purpose of making non-believers feel guilty and the believers feel righteous. Perfectly constructed psychological warfare.

Although I believe that Creationism is firmly rooted in mythology, I believe even more strongly that people reserve the right to believe in what they want. So, I will support the Creation Museum, because no matter what, different mindsets are worth noting. In the end, it's just exciting and fun, like a Voodoo or Scientology museum, or watching Ghost Adventures.



Mrs. Booms said...

You should really print t-shirts and sell that at Ellis Island.

No really.

Anonymous said...

Um, that is the best day trip ever.

As much as I love, love, love the Field, I think I'd rather see the Creation Museum. That's amazing.

Del-V said...

I have gotta go to that museum!

Nikki B. said...

Jesus H. Christ...what I would give for a day in your shoes!!

Gypsy said...

I once went to a torture museum in Siena. This does not mean that I support torture. I also went to a sex museum in Amsterdam, but, of course, I whole heartedly support sex.

P.S. I cannot express how much I loved your German accent.

Gwen said...

I've been dying to go to that museum ever since I saw that "Quiverfull" Duggar family go there on TV. But, alas, I live in PA. I love museums in general, but a museum that tries to sell the idea of Creation as anything other than a fantastical story? That is just...amazing. Your German friends sound wickedawesome. P.S. Thanks for the feedback on my blog, BTW. I honestly had no clue what "emo" even was until about a week ago. I didn't realize my blog was too emotional. My writing is a work in progress. I'll never grow as a writer without honest critiques!

Rassles said...

Gwen: I would never, ever, ever say your blog is too emotional. Ever.

renalfailure said...

Guns, Christians, and food that abuses your colon... that's the America I know. That's the America John Cougar Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen sing about.

The Ambiguous Blob said...

I'm definitely totally absofreakinglutely going to that museum. But first! I must find Kentucky. I was there once when I flew to Cincinnati, so it shouldn't be too tough.

Gwen said...

Rassles - See, that is what I thought emo meant. Sigh. :)

Gwen said...

Oh my god. I'm watching 30 Rock and Larry King is interviewing Tracy Jordan and he says something about....TEEN WOLF! I was like, holy shit! Rassles is right...Year of Teen Wolf.

Anonymous said...

Ya know . . .

I'm laid off. I live like two hours east of you. Why not take a day off next week and take ME to the Creation Museum!

As a recovering Pentecostal, it'll be just like going home . . .

Deal? Let me know . . .

Le Meems said...

"I like to think zhat I pay for a story to relate."

Baby, we all got'em. Those odd moments where you're standing in chinatown holding an empty bowl of chinese knuckle soup with one shoe and a black eye.

And you think, for THIS, I paid $6.49

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Anonymous said...

I don't care how cute you write him, I am still scared of the Germans...almost as much as the Creationists.

I bow to you, you brave gladiator of insanity.

Mia Watts said...

That deserved a transcript. You could make freakish amounts of money.

Anonymous said...

I love those days when you just decide not to go to work. And, on a completely randon note, I went to a dog collar museum in England once.

Rassles said...

I really, really, really want to respond to all of these comments, but I'm too tired.

Red said...

In response to your recent comment at Pistols's place, EG and I will totally play Trivial Pursuit with you if we're in your neck of the woods or you're in ours. Bring it!

Le Meems said...

still tired?
try a red bull. red bull has wings.

paperback reader said...

I am all for any place that doesn't deserve my money. I really wanted to go to Florida's Holy Land, because "Visit Jerusalem in Orlando!" is great on every single level.

American in Sydney said...

I bet the Christian school we send our kids to would love to have a field trip there-- and then they would come home and be all-- Mommy, can we pray to Jesus now? And I'd be all, um-- ok, go ahead- we don't act Jewish anyway.

Sure, wish we were there. Zat vould be grheat. Your German is so much better than mine.

~Mountain Lover~ said...

I never thought a creation museum could be this interesting. I need to go immediately. Except, I'd have to drive through Kansas. FUCK YOU KANSAS!

Anonymous said...

I'd like them to have an Unintelligent Design Museum.

Anonymous said...

um hello??? you haven't written a blog since thursday and i keep checking for one every half hour like a crazy person. will you please post something so i can be entertained in my last 15 minutes at work?? thanks :)

A Free Man said...

Ain't nothing wrong with selling out. I mean, in these times...

Nice work, guys. I'll go and check out part 2...

A Free Man said...

So someone has been stalking me. I was wondering about that shady figure behind the eucalypt tree.

Rassles said...

Boomer: Like, the entire blog? The whole fucking thing, Fiona Apple-style?

Erin: Just make it a three-day trip. You're from Iowa, right? Yeah, totally stop at home for the night, go like south east to Kentucky, and hit that shit.

Del-V: You really and truly must, and then you must spread the word of the Lord.

Nikki: Yeah, but you get laid all the time, so you know.

Gypsy: You should read my Irish. Whoa.

Gwen: I did not see that Duggar business, and I don't know what that means. BUT: Everyone needs to go. It's amazing.

RF: It's the kind of America you can only find in dreams and Kentucky.

Ambiblob: Okay, go get your globe. Find "North America." Put your finger in the exact center. Slide it to the right. See those lakes? Okay. Stop your finger where they all connect. Now drag your finger downwards about two inches. Booyah.

Gwen (again): I totally was watching that at the exact same time, and seriously considered posting an immediate blog. "And then he scores the winning basket, even though he's not a wolf no more."

Tysdaddy: I had no idea you were that close! But seriously, you should pack up the family and book it down there for some clean fun, and then head over to the Field Museum right afterwards, and then have a philosophical family discussion about the similarities and differences.

Le Meems: Wait...who told you about last summer?

Sparks: Thanks, mate.

Franki: You done disappeared for awhile there. And he was one of the good Germans. Full of jokes about the Holocaust.

Mia: Someday, telling true stories will make me freakish amounts of writing. Maybe. I wish.

Franklin: I want to go there.

Me: You glorious motherfucker, where have you been all my life?

Red: Hells YEAH, challenge.

Le Meems: Can't do energy drinks. Baffery.

Pistols: And they have a tabernacle with the arc and the covenant, modeled after the real-life version in Indiana Jones.

Flora: A Florida Jew sends her sons to a Christian school in Sydney? Oy vey.

Mount: YES. Do it. It's so much more accessible than South Africa.

Gully: Like one where God creates paramecia that evolve into larger walking blobs of unicellular goodness?

Schmee: I apologize. I've written two more, and I KNOW I've got something up my sleeve this week. We'll see what happens.

Free Man: Guilty. I really am glad you decided to do this whole interview thing. It gives me more reasons to talk about me.

A Free Man said...

OK, clearly I'm retarded because I commented on this post about another post without actually having read it. But this - this is some bad ass shit. Wickedawesome even.

After being gone for five years or so, everytime I come back now I get all sorts of digestive discomfort from American food. It never occurred to me just how much shit gets put in our/your food.

You know what else gives me the shits? Creationists.

I'm using shit way too much in this comment.

Rassles said...

Dude, those Creationists are crazy, and super excited to see everyone. Next time you're back in the states, you should hit up Kentucky. Don't miss it.

Bluestreak said...

Now that is a museaum that I would like to visit. That and the thing in Florida with the Christ execution and everything.

I wouldn´t feel bad about paying for it either. It´s a fucking spectacle, you gotta pay for that shit.

The creationism stuff blows my mind, because they are basically trying to scientifically prove mythology, and I´m completely lost as to why they think they need science to back them up instead of just accepting it as anti-science. You can´t have both, people. Pick one and just go with it. You don´t have to fucking reconcile everything.

Dean said...

I so see the attraction. I would love to go to the creation museum. I'd likely get my ass kicked though. I wouldn't be able to stop myself from pointing, laughing and berating the lunatics that actually buy that shit.