Oh no! I set the alarm wrong. I’m three hours late to the time I meant to start writing this. I need emergency help. I have to call my muse.
My muse, Cindy Holly, is my only hope for getting this column written in the time I have between now and deadline.
Cindy Holly, Muse of Other, Muse of Few Words, of ageless surpassing beauty, who was a brunette with neon purple streaks the last time I saw her, muses for only one human at a time, — sorry, guys. She has at least once turned me into a horse in my sleep when I misbehaved and is my only hope.
I call her on the Google Voice phone and explain the situation. I tell her I need speed this time. I’m not blocked. I just need to write fast.
Cindy listens. There is a long pause. I don’t think I’ve emphasized enough in the past what it’s like having a Muse of Few Words. She literally takes her sweet time getting a word out. When you’re in a panic like this, it’s excruciating.
Finally, she says, “Remember that article you read the other day? The one about cuteness? That got you going didn’t it?”
“If I were you, which I’m not, I would write about that.”
The article was in an online magazine called Inverse, and it was titled “The Desire to Crush Cute Things Is Natural — and May Even Be Useful.”
I’ve talked about how horrible babies are before. They’re like the creature in “Alien,” only they don’t get you with teeth and slobber — not that slobber isn’t involved. They get you by turning your own brain against you, by making you produce juices that enslave you.
These juices, also known as “chemicals,” include stuff like dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine is where the word “dope” comes from, and oxytocin is otherwise known as “the cuddle hormone.” It makes normal, healthy human beings want to cuddle. It’s insidious.
The baby who does all this does it just by means of its appearance. In fact, anything that looks sort of like a baby will cause these juices to flow and take you over, just like saliva when you prepare to bite into a big, juicy blue-cheese burger. As the article points out, animators figured this out and over the years have made us look at various big- headed, puffy-cheeked animals and humanoids, such as Mickey Mouse and endless big-eyed anime girls, so they could get their hooks in us.
The alien in the movie is really just a symbolic depiction of what is actually going on within your brain when you are faced with a cute baby. If only you could see inside to the struggle for control within your neuronal brain-ducts as the monster slobbers and its teeth reach out for that last resisting nerve cell.
The study the article talks about finds that somewhere between 70 to 75 percent of all people know exactly what I’m talking about. Human babies and cute baby animals are adorable precisely so that they can get their hooks into you by means of your own brain chemistry and then control you. That’s why you have a cat or a puppy. That’s why you’re cleaning up puke in unbelievable places.
Most people know this instinctively, which is why, the study finds, if a cute monster is too cute for words, cute in the first degree, from the Dark Lord cute, people get an urge to crush it. The people who don’t know this are the 25 to 30 percent who were born under logs.
The scientific term for this is “cute aggression.” It’s a force of nature. It’s the only thing that can save you from being enslaved by armies of puppies, kittens and other people’s babies.
In keep thinking about this, I find myself wondering why these brain juices don’t get going when anyone needs our help. It seems like nature messed that up.
Why do the triggers have to be big heads and puffy cheeks and flailing, uncoordinated limbs? Why can’t it just be someone who’s malnourished or shivering in the cold?
I’m not saying it’s an either/or situation. Let’s not start abandoning our babies because they’ve been too well fed lately compared to other candidates for our concern.
I’m just saying not everyone we should be concerned about should be required to meet the threshold of cuteness of a baby.
Let’s have more equity in the caring department.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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