Last week, as Halloween was approaching, my sister and I talked about going to a "Hell House" or "Judgment House" -- one of those non-scary haunted-house facsimiles that conservative Southern Baptist churches put on to show you the horrible torment that results from drinking alcohol, smoking pot, having premarital sex, or basically doing anything your average American might find remotely enjoyable. We would've gone just as a joke, of course, but it gave me an idea for a Hell House that would be actually terrifying -- full of things that I, at least, would find hellish. Here, then, are Five Main Features of Doug Gillett's "My Own Personal Hell House," coming October 2008 to an apartment nowhere near you:
The Hall of Georgia Tech Memorabilia
Like any good haunted house or "hell house," this one would start out eerily familiar -- in fact, as you walk in the front door, it looks almost exactly like my current apartment. But then you start to notice some frightening differences. Instead of a Georgia Bulldog flag hung up in the window, there's a gold GT flag. Instead of a black fleece pullover with a Georgia logo draped over the chair, there's a pee-yellow Starter jacket with "TECH" on the back in huge letters. And instead of a Mark Richt Wheaties box, a ceramic bulldog, and a Coke bottle commemorating Georgia's 1980 national title on the mantle, there's a model of the Ramblin' Wreck and a poster saying "You Gotta BEElieve!" Not only does it suck, it's guaranteed to not even remotely jibe with any color scheme you could possibly want in your home. (Oh, and when you open the closet, instead of the #4 Georgia jersey that would usually be there, you find Reggie Ball, throwing heavy objects at you. Fortunately, being Reggie Ball, he misses you by at least three yards every time.)
President Dick Cheney
In my own personal hell, the government has conjured up another one of its suspiciously timed terror warnings right before the 2008 election -- terrorists determined to blow up Slurpee machines at 7-Elevens across the country, or something -- so VP Cheney has taken it upon himself to indefinitely postpone the election, declare martial law, and assume the presidency as George W. Bush decides to leave politics for good and retire to Crawford to cut brush. Within a year, habeas corpus has been suspended and we're required to display portraits of Cheney in our homes as a show of loyalty. That's really the only noticeable sign of Cheney's presidency in the My Own Personal Hell House, other than constant TV news reports revealing that we're at war with 71 of the world's 187 sovereign nations. (Including Canada, as Cheney's new secretary of homeland security, Tom Tancredo, felt that their round bacon was undermining traditional American breakfast values.)
The Refrigerator of Watery Doom
Between the Georgia Tech junk and the implied collapse of Western democracy as we know it, you're rattled now, and what you really want more than anything else is a drink to calm your nerves. What luck! As you enter the kitchen, there are signs proclaiming free beer in the fridge. But you open the door to find . . . nothing but Coors Light, the sex-in-a-canoe of beers. Yeccchhh! Dejected, you go to the sink and pour yourself a glass of water -- pretty much the same thing, really -- and wonder when this experience is going to be over.
The Unusable Bathroom
There are a pair of gigantic brown trouts floating in the toilet, it's crammed with toilet paper, and it won't flush. (OK, that's not all that scary per se, but people who use public toilets and then don't flush are in the top ten of my all-time list of pet peeves. Come on, people, the flush handle isn't going to kill you. Grow a pair, flush the damn toilet, wash your hands, and get on with your lives.)
Your heart in your throat, you gingerly open the door to the bedroom, and as it creaks open, you find . . . British supermodel Lucy Pinder, all 32GG-26-34 of her, sitting on the bed in her undies. Well, this isn't so bad! "I've been waiting for you," she says as she saunters over to you. She's just about to throw her arms around you and probe your trachea with her tongue when the door flies open again. It's Brooke, this girl I (unfortunately) used to date when I lived in Atlanta -- she's eight months pregnant . . . and she says you're the father. Noooooooo!!!! . . .
Horrible, isn't it? "Saw IV" has nothing on this place.
Now that you've calmed down and gotten your heart rate back to normal, here's the Ten:
1. U2, "Numb" (Gimme Some More Dignity mix)
2. R.E.M., "World Leader Pretend" (Live at Mountain Stage)
3. Pet Shop Boys, "Closer to Heaven"
4. Depeche Mode, "Walking in My Shoes" (Random Carpet mix)
5. Beck, "Hollywood Freaks"
6. MC Solaar, "Solaar Pleure"
7. Miles Davis, "Move"
8. Pet Shop Boys, "Suburbia (The Full Horror)"
9. The Police, "Spirits in the Material World"
10. Crowded House, "Distant Sun"
Incidentally, none of these songs would be playing at the My Own Personal Hell House because it'd have Britney Spears's Blackout on automatic loop. All right, readers, how about you? Share with us your own Random Tens and/or personal hell(s) in the comments.