Ask Dr. Eldritch

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Don't fall victim to vampires! Don't get slashed by a psycho! Don't get stuck, ASK DR. ELDRITCH!

Dear Dr. Eldritch,
Ask Dr. Eldritch Cats I have six cats. Mostly they sleep in their special beds, eat, and play with their darling little toys, but sometimes I see them staring at something, and when I look, there's nothing there. Are they watching invisible creatures? My sister Esther says they can see into other dimensions.

-- Edna in Fort Lauderdale

Dear Edna,

My answer is a cautious "Maybe." Creatures invisible to humans, but visible to cats, do exist, like the Dappled Pixie. Nobody knows if cats actually see these pixies clearly, or if they just perceive flickers of light or movement. Same goes for other dimensions. Until Science gives these questions the funding they deserve, we'll just have to ask the cats, which may not be helpful.

The truth is, cats hallucinate about 80% of the time. Whether it's catnip flashbacks or a quirk of brain chemistry, they're the natural stoners of the domesticated animal world. Why else would they suddenly charge from room to room, or go instantly from affectionate to shredding the hand that pets them? So who knows what they're staring at? They might be seeing some extra-dimensional creature moving across your living room, or more likely the feline version of pink elephants in purple sombreros.

Either way, these visions are mostly harmless. You don't need to worry unless your cat arches up, hissing at empty space, and there's a strong smell of mandrake root. Then run, run for the nearest church and DON'T STOP FOR ANYTHING! Stay inside the church for twenty-four hours, then you can go home and give Mr. Whiskers a treat for saving your life.

Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!

-- Dr. Eldritch

Dear Dr. Eldritch
After yet another fight with my wife "Kate" (not her real name, of course), I ended up at a bar I'd never been to before. An incredibly attractive woman sits next to me and introduces herself as "Jane." We got to talking, and she tells me she's been thinking of leaving her husband. I let it slip that Kate's wealthy family had insisted on a pre-nup which would leave me with nothing if I filed for divorce. Jane starts hinting that we could each "solve each other's problem." That made me real nervous, so I left.

Today I found a napkin tucked in my coat pocket with "Jane" and a phone number written on it. Don't worry; I've been reading your column for a while, and I know your advice about slippery slopes and all. But I still wonder. Maybe she was serious about a deal, or I might eliminate her husband and she'd refuse to carry through on her part. She could have been an undercover cop on a sting operation. For all I know, she was merely suggesting we get a hotel room for a few hours of fun!

I stashed the napkin somewhere safe, and before I do anything, I had to ask you: For every situation that could be either harmless or disastrous, how do you know which it is?

-- Smarter Than The Average Bear

Dear Smarter,

I'll grant you a level of intelligence greater than the typical ursine; when bears write to me, their spelling and grammar are terrible. But you're not be as clever as you think, since you still have the napkin! If I had a dollar for every "safe" place that's been compromised, I could hire the bears a full-time proofreader. If you were really smart, you could memorize Jane's phone number.

Despite that, you do ask an excellent question! How, indeed? Always assuming the worst and jumping at every shadow makes one look as foolish as the woman who reported this Suspicious Activity at an American airport: A man talking on a cell phone in a foreign language! Such paranoia leads to a life spent cowering in the basement.

On the flip side, people who trust Humanity's Inherent Goodness ensure that Con Artists, Psychopaths and Spammers have an inexhaustible supply of victims. So the ideal lies somewhere between those two extremes.

I could teach an entire course on this topic, but the condensed version boils down to these three points:

  1. Inform yourself about the myriad dangers that may be encountered in life. Reading this column is an excellent means to this end.
  2. Be alert for danger signs. For example, a stranger striking up a conversation in a bar is suspicious, but when it's an "incredibly attractive" woman, she definitely has an ulterior motive.
  3. Trust your intuition when something seems wrong. You don't often hear phrases like "I had a bad feeling about it, but I got into the cage anyway" because those who might say such things are frequently no longer around.
Unless you're psychic, you can't ever know for certain what's about to happen. Being alert to the potential hazards, and ready to respond appropriately, increases your chances of identifying dangerous situations and overcoming them. So, Be Prepared, since you'll never know which day will be the Worst Day of Your Life...

Good luck, and let me know how it comes out!

-- Dr. Eldritch

(DISCLAIMER: Anyone intelligent enough to be reading this should understand 1) Satire, and 2) That following the advice given may result in physical, mental, or spiritual harm to beings living, dead, or undead. The author does not suggest that anyone other that the originator of any given letter follow his advice, and cannot be held liable if anyone else does.
If you need more, read this Advanced Disclaimer!) All content © 2007 Evan M. Nichols