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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Column: Tripping out

Some shake

Only I would happen to catch the weirdest fucking episode of “Dexter’s Lab” while all alone at four in the morning. The universe loves to fuck with me like that.

Earlier, we were in the garage getting drunk around an old television set that we had accidentally set on fire. It didn’t take long before some of us started telling ghost stories.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, ghost stories still scare the shit out of me. Even if they are obviously fake or made up, they still stealthily penetrate deep into my mind and hide there until I’m all alone and vulnerable.

There was one story in particular that I immediately found pretty disturbing.

According to the “true” story, one day some high schooler was driving his girlfriend home after school. They had been having an argument, so he got on a long, deserted stretch of road and sped the car up to over 90 mph, which he knew would piss her off.

At that point, though, they both noticed someone running alongside their speeding car. The runner smiled and waved at the girlfriend, and then ran off ahead of them.

It caused her to have some sort of heart attack. Upon waking up, all she could say was, ironically, “You’re acting crazy,” over and over. These apparently were her last words to her boyfriend during their fight.

Naturally, I came home too paranoid and too drunk to sleep.

The house was empty so I turned on the TV to keep me company, and an episode of “Dexter’s Lab” was just starting.

“Dexter’s Laboratory” is a seemingly harmless ’90s cartoon about a redheaded kid-scientist with cool gadgets. The episode begins, innocently enough, with Dexter trying to learn French.

But being an American, he wants shit done fast. So he invents for himself a device that talks to him in French in his sleep, which, according to cartoon logic, should make him fluent in the foreign language upon waking up.

But something goes terribly wrong with the Subconscious Discographic Hypnotator, and upon waking up Dexter can only repeat the same phrase over and over, “omelette du fromage,” which is (somewhat) French for “cheese omelette.”

He can’t wish his mom a good morning, and worse, he can’t even properly insult his big sister, who literally takes pleasure in his suffering.

She adds to the headache and confusion by mocking him and chanting “That’s all you can say” over and over in an unbearably shrill voice.

At this point I begin to wonder if it’s just a coincidence that these two stories are so eerily similar.

It feels like a strange kind of deja vu. An unexplainable quirk in reality meant specifically to freak me out a little.

Is the universe trying to tell me something? Is something dreadful about to happen? Do I still remember how to talk properly? Is something watching me?

Or am I just too damn high?

Vexed and dumbfounded, Dexter tries to return to the comfort of his lab, but of course it is locked and voice-activated. No matter how hard he tries, every time he opens his mouth to speak, he can’t say anything except “omelette du fromage.”

Since this is not the correct password, the computer thinks someone is trying to break into the lab. For security purposes, it goes into self-destruct mode.

Sirens start wailing and lights start flashing, and a timer starts counting down the seconds till detonation.

Dexter realizes that there’s absolutely no hope in deactivating the meltdown, so he gives up and falls to his knees. He starts crying and yelling, but of course all he can say is “omelette du fromage.”

His sister Didi comes in, and even though the room is already in chaos, she points and laughs at her sorry little brother on the floor. Her high-pitched “That’s all you can say” joins the screaming alarms.

The entire episode I’d been waiting for the solution. I needed Dexter to figure out how to fix his condition so he could get us both out of this demented rut.

Only then would I be able to shake the certainty that something terrible was about to happen to me.

There’s a big explosion and the screen goes dark. While everything else finally shuts up, Didi can still be heard chanting “that’s all you can say” over and over and over.

Go ahead and make fun of LEO OCAMPO’s overactive imagination at gocampo@ucdavis.edu.

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