When you’re staying in a strange, rural area, and you pass an old, gabled farmhouse, and happen to look up and see the unmoving outline of a woman backlit against a third-floor window, what thought comes to mind?
Psycho, of course! Even though there’s no Bates Motel sign to be seen, you’re subconsciously scanning the landscape for a knife-wielding Anthony Perkins clad in an old-fashioned full-length dress. No steaming hot shower is ever completely comfortable when you are in the immediate vicinity of such a scene, is it? And that slashing, stabbing Psycho soundtrack music helpfully starts playing in the back of your mind to add to the creepiness factor, too.
l’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason why a woman would be up in the third floor of a house, framed against the window. Maybe it’s her favorite place to watch TV, or maybe that precise spot is where cell phone reception is inexplicably the strongest. Or maybe it’s just a rotting, maggot-infested corpse kept there by a deeply disturbed murderer with a Mommy complex.
There’s a new TV show that’s being advertised constantly. Call me a wuss if you will, but I can’t bring myself to watch it.
It’s Bates Motel — the back story, apparently, of Norman Bates and his mother, Norma. Of course, Norman figured prominently in the Hitchcock thriller Psycho, where he donned his mother’s dress and ruthlessly stabbed to death a young woman taking a shower in the motel that Norman managed. I think Psycho is one of the creepiest, most unsettling movies ever made, and Norman Bates is one of the creepiest, most unsettling movie characters ever conceived. In view of that, why in the world would I want to see even more of young Norm and his unbalanced mother? Is there really a big audience for a TV that tells their disturbing story?
Of course, if Bates Motel is successful it might start a trend. Why stop at telling the bloody tale of only one horror movie icon? No doubt other TV producers will begin searching for frightening film characters whose earlier days remain unexplored. Some possibilities: Little White, the moving, coming-of-age tale of an awkward young shark striving to become an unstoppable killing machine off the beaches of Amity in New England; Hockey Boy, the whimsical tale of Jason Voorhees, an uncoordinated youngster whose dreams of career in the NHL are foiled but who discovers he experiences strange new urges when he dons a hockey mask; and Vlad Ain’t Bad, a comedy about a white-skinned, cape-wearing exchange student from eastern Europe who fits right in with the Goth crowd then discovers an insatiable craving for corpuscles.
Has anyone else noticed the recent advances in hotel shower technology? Unfortunately, they don’t involve shower nozzle height; there are still too many hotel showers that apparently were configured for the Mayor of the Munchkin City. They also don’t address the issue of achieving water pressure beyond a limp trickle or the development of knobs that can be easily manipulated by the sleepy traveler to produce water that is comfortably between tepid and scalding.
No, the developments I’ve seen involve bowed-out shower rods that make the interior of the shower seem larger and the addition of partially or fully transparent shower curtains.
What is the reason for these developments? Obviously, they are a delayed response to the deep trauma that watching Psycho has inflicted on us all. Hotels have finally realized that every lathered traveler in a hotel shower fears that they are moments away from being chopped to bits by Tony Perkins and watching their blood and gore swirl down a black and white drain. Both of the new hotel shower developments address these core concerns. The transparent shower curtain allows for early detection of the crazed guy wearing his dead mother’s dress, and the bowed-out shower curtain affords the extra room needed to dodge the downward knife thrusts. After all, a man wearing a heavy black floor-length dress is bound to be restricted in his movement, and the additional in-shower space should give the nimble traveler the opportunity to conduct meaningful evasive maneuvers.
Kudos to the hospitality industry for recognizing, even if belatedly, the profound anxieties of the American traveler and taking appropriate steps to address them!