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Curiosity kills …. and not just the cat.

Posted in Aging, Life & Love, and Relationships


1982 was a year in which I deeply regretted being curious: three times. Twice involved a movie, the other a book.  Each left my 22-year old self disquieted. Each had me wondering – why the hell did I let that into my life?

I saw Cat People with my great friend Dave T. SA was just coming out of the cultural Jurassic and arty movies were showing up at small screens in hipster parts of town. We schlepped off to Rocky Street, ate moules mariniere, crusty French loaf and a green salad. Split a bottle of wine and headed into the dark dankness. I was horrified. The movie was sick and manipulative. The sex dark and ugly. There was cannibalism and an animal eating a woman. I sat through it, but as the titles rolled and Bowie sang: I bolted. Dave drove me home in silence – he told me years later he felt like something had been spoiled for me.

cat-people-movie-poster-1982-1020275643Later that year, my pal Fred took me to see Querelle. The movie featured Brad Davis who had enjoyed huge success in Midnight Express – I thought he was the bomb.  I knew the book was by Jean Genet – who I didn’t love as a writer.  And the director was Werner Fassbinder – who I didn’t understand and who had just died of a drug overdose. Not a good start. But here was this homoerotic movie with a gorgeous actor and.. well, I was curious.

I didn’t even make the credits. Just after Querelle sliced off a trick’s nipple, licked it and tossed it into the sea – I told Fred I’d catch him later and ran off to play game after game of “Space Invaders” in a cafe. Shooting at pixelated aliens to obliterate what I had seen.

The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris completed the trilogy. That book gave a whole new meaning to ‘the Tooth Fairy’. The killer was so plausible and Harris’ research so meticulous – I had to find out more. What I discovered frightened the shit out of me. In interviews Harris he told how he had drawn on real-life for his villains. That there were “yachts on which a man would be encouraged to wear the skin of another.” As implausible as it sounded – somehow I knew it was true.
Querelle_(1982)My interest in serial killers lasted another couple of years: it took a book about Jeffrey Dahmer to put a stop that. The practicalities and stench described by the author fascinated my mind and horrified my soul. Bodies in buckets and brains in the freezer. A desperate naked man running down a road, brought back to his smiling torturer by a policeman: because he didn’t understand what the man was saying in “his Asian accent”.

No. Thanks. Pass. To much information. I put the book down and never picked it, or anything like it, up again.

I don’t poke around in other people’s diaries, or emails. No good EVER came of that. I have watched as friends destroy relationships – unable to let go of what they have seen. A few years ago, a friend discovered her boyfriend’s texts to a fellow worker – ascribed tone and meaning to the words and blew up. She caused such harm and damage that their relationship stood no chance of ever recovering. In effect: she gave his voice to her insecurity. I wonder how things would have turned out had she resisted the lure of his phone?

My eyes aren’t great anymore. I can’t read type without glasses or make-up my face without magnification. I don’t see everything in as sharp focus as I used to. Or in as much detail. But I see life more clearly than I ever did. I am still curious – but it is a gentle, stumbled-on “as-life-brings-it” kind of curiosity rather than the “tell-me-I-must-know-I-need-to-know” version of my youth.

That’s not to say I want to unlearn what I know. What I know has brought me where I am. But I plan on living a life a little less examined from now on.

(All images in the public domain.)

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  1. silvia

    I survived all three movies, my stomach managed to digest them and apart from red dragon I saw the other two many years ago, I hardly remember. Besides I live with someone who’s deeply into serial killers fiction and who’s collected approximately 300 books so far. Maybe I should get worried.
    What really scares me, not to mention real horror/thriller movies – camparigirl knows well about it, after seeing the exsorcist I HAD to sleep over at her place – is the other kind of curiosity you mentioned, the one for which you very well know where to start from but never figure out where or when you can stop.
    Usually when curiosity ends with disappointment it’s when I know I made a wrong move. Curiosity holds in its premises a certain amount of expectations and it’s always a shame when these get neglected.
    And of course I’m not talking about being curious in a morbid way

    July 16, 2013
  2. I missed the other two, but that Cat People remake put me off meat for almost a month. Too bad I didn’t stick with that diet. There seems to have been a fair amount of nipple-slicing in the eighties. I didn’t see Querelle, but I’m still recovering from Bob Geldof slicing off his own nipple in “The Wall.”

    July 15, 2013
    • Oh god – I had forgotten that scene … HATED the Wall. Horrible depressing movie.

      July 16, 2013

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