There’s nothing like being handcuffed to someone in a museum to highlight your differing tastes. Going to a musuem handcuffed ought to be a pre-marriage compatibility test–or better yet, going to the mall handcuffed. Of course, all that would tell you is that men are not compatible with women. Think carefully about how much time you really want to spend at the wall of shivs before going the handcuffed route, ladies.
You heard me right. Last Friday night, Kent and I went to the After Hours Crimes of Passion Event at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment–Valentine’s Day style. This is an event that the museum hosts once a month, but they go all out for Valentine’s Day.
First off, the event was completely sold out. People love their after hours crimes of passion, I guess. As we stood in a long line waiting to be handcuffed together, we couldn’t help but look around a little and think: Freaks! I mean, who does this for Valentine’s Day? Oh, right. We do. Actually, though, everyone there looked rather…normal. Everyone’s hair was a naturally occuring color. No one had transformed themselves into a tiger. Somehow I expected to see at least a few goths and urban vampires among the lawyers, interns, accountants and their dates, but no. Of course serial killers look just like everyone else, so maybe there were a couple of those.
Every couple we saw decided to get handcuffed with the girl on the right. Every single one. I wondered if this was because women wanted their dominant hand, which is usually the right hand, free to hold the handrails up the stairs and men chivalrously obliged. Do men and women usually hold hands with the woman on the right? Should I have been on the left to show I’m not held captive by society’s stereotypes? The trend was so marked, I want to get to the bottom of this.
Once cuffed we were free to roam around the museum. The museum itself is really well done. No, they didn’t have OJ’s black glove or Lizzy Borden’s ax on display, though they did have exhibits for both of those crimes. They did have a shot-up car from one of the Bonny and Clyde movies, a replica of Ted Bundy’s VW bug, a dog fighting treadmill, a number of firearm replicas like Wyatt Earp’s pistol, and some gruesome looking breast rippers from the Salem witch hunts. Mostly, though, the exhibits are write ups and pictures of famous crimes, criminals and punishments. Prepare to do a lot of reading.
The whole museum feels new and modern, but not a complete screen-fest. Great attention is paid to ambiance with low lighting, CSI-esque background music and ominous noises. The designers have watched a lot of crime dramas and procedurals, and they know what people expect and like. The crime lab in the basement looks and sounds just like CSI. For the event they even had a little multiple choice quiz you could take to determine how much crime TV you watch. The right answers are meant to dispel some of the myths you’ve picked up there. Kent and I did well, though he didn’t even know it’s blood “spatter” not “splatter”. Please.
On the other quiz which purports to tell you how likely you are to be a serial killer, Kent way outscored me. This is only natural because women have never gotten that into serial killing. It’s just not our thing.
Speaking of spatter, one of the more disturbing–and fun!–stations set up for the event was the blood spatter bath. Using red paint and large pieces of paper, you get to recreate blood spatter from murders involving a hammer, a wrench and a screwdriver. I felt like a child in a big smock doing an art project for preschool with murderous undertones. It’s a little freaky to be attacking a paper with a screwdriver while the attendant urges, “Now stab, stab! Okay, slash. Slash harder! Okay, try shanking.” When you’ve made your spatter patterns, she then shows you another spatter example and you get to guess which implement it was made with. Cool.
For everyone who thinks I exaggerate my height. There it is. 6’3″. If ever I’d envisioned a life of crime or espionage, I think this disqualifies me. I’m just too darned recognizable.
Another fun station in the crime lab was walking a line for a DUI test with intoxication goggles on. We tried the “couple of drinks” goggles, the “twice the legal limit” goggles and the “hard drugs” goggles. Since this is the closest either of us will probably ever get to being stoned, we took our time here. I laughed my head off as Kent tried the “twice the legal limit” goggles. One of his toes grazed the line at one point of the 8 feet, but other than that, he just twitched and gyrated and tap danced, circling his arms for balance like a tight-rope walker, on everything but the line and nearly fell over. My greatest regret is not getting the whole thing on video.
We skipped the insufferably long line to the prison tattoos, but we did look at them and look into their meaning. I would have chosen the butterfly which means I’m trustworthy, and Kent would have worn the skull which means he’s a prison gang boss, but not THE prison gang boss. And if you’re wondering if all the other non-serial-killer women with their left hand cuffed also chose the butterfly, let me assure you they did.
The prison cell replica really did scare me straight. That thing is tiny and awful, and the sounds of the prisoners shuffling around the cell block in the dim, unnatural, green florescent lighting made me want to high tail it out of there immediately.
I have to say, I found the hall of executions gross but engrossing. The famous last words of criminals were fascinating, and reading about the gas chamber, lethal injections, hangings, iron maiden, rack, draw and quartering, and so forth was definitely, uh, educational. Did you know there are four kinds of hanging? The short drop of 4 to 6 inches and the raise which lifts the victim up off the ground take the longest because they work by strangulation. The long drop of several feet often breaks the neck, so it’s faster and less brutal. And the calculated long drop which takes the victim’s weight and measurements into account ensuring a clean neck break is still a capital punishment option in some states. Zoiks.
The worst parts of the museum for me were the exhibits on child abductions and serial killers. I know some people find this stuff interesting which is probably why its sold out for Valentine’s Day, but all it did for me was make me want to go home and check on my babies immediately. I found the child adbuctions so disturbing that I had to do just that and then watch two episodes of Madmen to get the taste of that museum out of my mouth. I’m glad we went, and it was a fascinating museum, definitely on the masculine side, but I’m not in any hurry to return.
The biggest laugh of the night was the “Delicious Romantic Treat” at the end which turned out to be one mini Hostess Donette per person. They tried to tie it in to law enforcement by mentioning that cops love donuts, but really, the sign should have read, “We are criminally cheap.”
If you enjoyed this post a little too much, and you want to know whether you’re a serial killer, here’s your chance to take the serial killer quiz for free!
Spoiler Alert! Bonus Question Answer: She was hoping he’d show up to her sister’s funeral.
If you got the bonus question on the first try, add 15 points to your total. Now in case you’re too lazy to scroll up, here’s that scoring sheet again.