You Claim to Be Fascinated---Yet You Deceive!

Today I am excited as only a scholar on the brink of a great discovery can be excited. After five years of study, I am finally ready to give a scientific name to the psychiatric affliction which has befallen Mr. H. I call it Bacondale-Mastinger Syndrome, defined simply as the inability to distinguish everyday objects, concepts, and people from The Shining.

Mr. H’s disease first manifested itself in 2001 when he briefly confused the Vincent Price film The Fall of the House of Usher with The Shining, a not terribly disturbing mistake that he laughed off quickly. But as the months and years passed, Mr. H began to believe that every film he saw was The Shining---even Talladega Nights and Legally Blonde. One night while listening to the radio at his job as a night watchman on a beet farm, he mistook Billy Joel’s 'Uptown Girl' for The Shining. Soon after, when I asked him during one of our sessions if he had read anything good lately, he held up a copy of the tender children’s classic Tuck Everlasting and said, “Let me tell ya, this thing will scare the pee pee out of you. Haunted hotel, man under the influence of ghosts, evil hedge creatures---it’s all gold!” In May of 2004 he mistook a battery-operated can opener for The Shining, and in December of that same year he spoke of his next-door neighbor thusly: “A nice enough fella, the wife and I have eaten dinner at his house a few times, but when Scatman Crothers took that axe to the chest at the two hour mark, that’s when I knew it was a classic.” Finally, and most tragically, Mr. H was seen to weep at his daughter’s high school graduation while at the same time whispering to his wife, “Look at her, so beautiful…I just know our little The Shining is gonna go far in this life!” That very same day, he remarked off-handedly that he just wanted to read a few chapters of The Shining before heading off to the grocery store, at which point he stood at length in front of his Ford Festiva, staring at the hood intently, his eyes moving left to right and his lips moving silently, enjoying very much the scene where Jack Torrance pulls the guts out of the Snowcat, stranding he, Wendy, and Danny at the Overlook forever.

I have, sadly, long since given up hope of curing Mr. H, and he seems to have come to terms with his ailment. For a stretch of six months I used flash cards in an attempt to get him to see the difference between The Shining and everything else in the world, but his progress was only intermittent, and in the end the only thing he never confused with The Shining was the made-for-TV remake of The Shining, which he called “the worst piece of %$#@ ever made.” Yes, yes indeed. He has now begun to confuse me, his therapist, with The Shining, and until my paper for the Tottenham symposium is complete, I fear our sessions will consist mostly of Mr. H regarding me with mild curiosity and asking me again and again what Lloyd the bartender is really like, what I ate during my stay in the food locker, and whose job it was on the set to type up all those pages that said All Work And No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy. The most distressing thing about this whole situation is that yesterday I myself briefly mistook Mr. H for the 1985 Val Kilmer vehicle Real Genius. I do worry.