Friday, October 06, 2006

A manly man with a keen sense of direction

(Post never properly formatted due to other pressures. Please ignore the mess.)

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in the Venetian Resort and Casino, Las Vegas is an impressive display of artistry. One feels oddly self-conscious looking into the eyes of the very realistic figures. For Halloween this year, they have put their prodigious skills into creating a House of Horrors. For reasons that only my therapist could explain, I decided to visit said House to see what lurked inside. While I did not, as expected, scream like a little girl, the experience still did little to enhance my masculinity in the eyes of those around me.

When entering the House, a group of visitors is led into a small room for the introduction to the “school tour”. At the end of the introduction, the “tour guide” opens a door leading to the rest of the tour and suggests that a “gentleman” lead the group. Through a random fluke and my not paying attention to my surroundings I ended up next to the newly opened door, surrounded by 5-foot-tall Eastern European women who spoke no English. My work colleague was on the other side of the room and was certainly not going to volunteer to cross through the crowd to lead the tour. So, lucky me, I ended up as the leader of our little group.

The tour guide had everyone place their hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them. Ostensibly this was so that no one would get lost. I soon discovered that this was primarily to keep the leader from catching up to the very fast-moving tour guide who quickly disappeared around a corner and was not seen again. That left yours truly responsible for creeping around corners and leading our little band.

Something to keep in mind is that I have never been a fan of haunted houses or scary movies. My imagination is a bit too vivid for such things and they end up getting under my skin. So my biggest fear as I pushed through curtains and past television screens with visions of Freddy Kruger was that I would encounter something so startling that I would scream like a woman and injure the tiny women behind me in a mad scramble to escape. With this fear forefront in my mind, I held my hands in front of me, squeezing a rubber ball that I had somewhere acquired, and carefully plodding deliberately through the pitch black maze.

Around one corner were figures of a machete-wielding Jason and his victim. The Jason figure turned out to be a real person, and came to life moving towards us. However, rather than being scared, I was more concerned where I was supposed to turn to lead our group around him. While considering this, the Jason figure retreated. I congratulated myself on being too distracted to remember to be scared and on remaining composed enough to keep from tearing out the arms of the women who were, by now, gripping my shoulder strong enough to leave tiny purple marks behind.

As I turned the next corner, I was presented with a choice of hallways. One appeared blocked by some plastic sheeting, the other went straight ahead and I could see an “EXIT” sign in the distance. Thinking quickly, I took the straighter of the two hallways. I imagined that either the EXIT sign was part of the show (since this was supposed to be a school) or perhaps there was another turn just before the door. When I reached the doorway, there was no other way to return and, as I had a long line of shuffling women behind me, I pushed through the door and into … the well-lit main part of the museum.

And everyone in the group followed me out.

My colleague, who had bravely taken up the very rear of the group, and I commiserated on how short the House of Horrors was and how it really hadn’t been that scary. We laughed off the idea that we’d been fearful about entering and went back to the private party room in the back of the museum where our event was being held.

As I passed into the room, I paused for a moment to recount our experience to one of the employees of the Museum. I told her how I hadn’t found the experience all that frightening and was surprised how short the tour had been. She informed me that the EXIT that I had taken was put there for people who were so terrified that they had to leave the tour.

We had missed over two-thirds of the tour by my taking a wrong turn. The razzing about my having taken the “wuss exit” began nearly instantaneously.

After consideration, my colleague and I decided that this made for a better story anyway, and there really was no reason to go back through the house again.
That's our story, and we're sticking to it.

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