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Todd Hartley

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I'm With Stupid: A Perfectly Petrifying Prefix for Flakes and Nuts

Posted: 10/17/11 07:30 PM ET

I'm not going to lie to you people: not this week, anyway. I'm scared. And I don't mean "please don't let it turn blue" anxiety, although that is certainly frightening. I mean that I am in mortal fear for my very life. Just like crop circles, mysterious but unmistakable, the signs are out there, and they all point to bad things for yours truly.

I will be going this weekend to a pumpkin patch and corn maze in New Castle, Colo., and I'm worried that I may never emerge from the maze. I'm not sure how I'll meet my demise. It might involve a bunch of possessed kids and He Who Walks Behind the Rows, or a minotaur might chop my head off with an axe, or I might just wander around lost until winter, and then, like Jack Nicholson in a hedge maze, eventually die of exposure. In any event, I'm sure my end won't be pretty.

And why, pray tell, do I think my life is in danger? Well, in addition to the prospect of a labyrinth- or cornfield-related tragedy such as befell ancient Cretans, Nicholson and the people of Gatlin, Neb., there are a couple of other reasons involving recent events and my own history.

My one noteworthy experience with a walk-through maze came a few years ago in the town of Wanaka, New Zealand, at a place called Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World. The object of the maze, which had high wooden walls and 1.5 kilometers of pathways, was to reach all four corners and then get out. Sounds simple enough, right?

At first it was. My wife and I made it to all four corners in about 20 minutes and found ourselves arrogantly laughing at the brochure that recommended giving yourself an hour to do the maze. "Maybe some people need an hour," we scoffed. "Not us. We'll be out of here in no time."

Now, my wife and I both went to highly rated, private colleges, and we both agree that my wife is smart and that I show occasional glimpses of cognitive ability. But an hour later, when we were still stuck in that confounded maze, we were both beginning to wonder if we weren't the stupidest people on Earth.

Panic began to set in. I could feel fear welling up at the back of my throat like gas from a bad burrito. We eventually found the exit, obviously, but if I'd been in there one more minute I might have lost it.

More recently, dangerous corn mazes made headlines last week after a couple with a newborn baby got trapped in a maze in Danvers, Mass., and had to call 911 to have the police come rescue them. Apparently, the couple couldn't find the way out, and it was starting to get dark, so the mother made the tearful emergency call, and a K-9 unit was dispatched to go sniff out the lost souls.

(On a side note, why is a circle of trampled wheat clearly the work of aliens, but spelling out "DANVERS, MA" in a cornfield just means a farmer had too much time on his hands?)

The farmer in question, who has become something of a minor celebrity since the incident, was a little befuddled by the couple's actions. "They were only 25 feet from the exit when they called the police," he said, noting also that "in an emergency situation, it is perfectly acceptable to cut through the corn."

Acceptable, huh? I just hope I'm presented with the opportunity to save myself by cutting through the corn this weekend, after I've abandoned all hope of finding the exit, but before I go stark, raving mad or get killed by a monster. Because I'll tell you one thing: I might not have the chance to save myself by calling 911. I don't know if a cornfield in New Castle is going to have cellular service.

If indeed this is my final column, I'd like to thank you all for reading my drivel each week and for not taking things too personally, except for those of you who took things too personally. You guys can go suck it.

I'd also like to remind you that, according to the guy who unsuccessfully predicted that the world would end in May, the world is going to end in a week, so don't go getting all cocky, thinking you're special because you outlived me. Heck, a week from now, you might be wishing you died in a corn maze, too.

Todd "Feseus" Hartley will be bringing a ball of string to the maze, just in case. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.