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Monday, August 9, 2010

The Jennifer Branch Are-You-a-Serial-Murderer Test (patent pending)

Have you ever been out at a fine local restaurant or comfortable neighborhood tavern talking to someone you, at first, assumed was the pillar of normalcy and then halfway through the conversation and about four drinks in, a tiny flicker in your brain tells you, “there is absolutely no chance that this person is not a serial murderer, you must escape quickly or you’ll be a lampshade in their apartment in about six hours. Your parents will have to look for you and the last person that saw you will have to announce to the world that you were last seen wearing glow-in-the-dark flip flops, a slap bracelet and a side pony tail because you have some weird form of arrested development that won’t let you progress, fashionably, past the fifth grade”? Then you freak out, first because you’re wearing your LEAST favorite slap bracelet and then second because you only have two speeds and neither of them are suitable for quick escapes?

Because that has happened to me. More than once. I’m not talking about being out on a date with a complete stranger you met on the internet either. Because let’s face it. Of course that person is a serial murderer. I hope you enjoy being a lampshade. I don’t even mean the situation involves a date at all, or that the person on the other side of you is even a person of the opposite gender.

Here’s one hypothetical (actual) example. If this were an actual conversation (It is), it would have happened at Cecil’s on West Gray.
Me: Cute shoes!
Girl whose shoes I just complimented: Thanks! They’re great for stabbing people in the head. The stilettos are so spiky. Yours are cute too!
Me: Wow. I got mine at Taxi, Taxi.

Here’s another hypothetical (actual) example. In this instance you (I) were just hanging out at a bar that should not attract serial murderers (but probably it does on Wednesdays because the drinks are really, really cheap and serial murderers have to keep a low profile) and halfway through a normal conversation that started with baseball, a guy you thought was completely banal asks you (me) if you’ve (I’ve) ever been stabbed before.
Me: I actually don’t think we’ve given Ed Wade a fair shake yet.
Him: I agree.
Me: ((pause while I drink))
Him: Have you ever been stabbed before? ((he proceeds to roll up a $20 bill into a funnel and poke me lightly in the arm))
Me: If you don’t leave right now I’ll talk about how cute it is when I dress my dogs up and how much I want kids.

I have more hypothetical (actual. They’re all actual) examples, but I think these two are sufficient to show you why what I’ve developed and am about to share with you (you’re welcome) is acutely necessary.

Below, you’ll find the Jennifer Branch Are-You-a-Serial-Murderer Test (patent pending). It’s imperative that before you even begin a conversation with a complete stranger, you ask them these four questions.

The Jennifer Branch Are-You-a-Serial-Murderer Test (patent pending)
1) Are you now, or have you ever been, a serial murderer? (you should give them the opportunity to be honest up front)
2) Have you, either now or ever in the past, simultaneously possessed a rope, a tarp, night vision goggles, binoculars, duct tape, lime and a shovel? (One of these things at a time is fine. Two is questionable. More than that is ridiculous. Get out of there now.)
3) If you had to choose between watching a documentary on John Wayne Gacey or Shark Week, which would you choose. (If they say ‘John Wayne Gacey’, shoot first and ask questions later. A CLOWN serial murderer over TIGER SHARKS?! That person clearly cuts people up into tiny pieces and puts those pieces into random objects they sell on Ebay.)
4) How do you feel about Captain Crunch? (their choice here isn’t necessarily indicative of being a serial murderer. It just tells you all you need to know about their personality. ‘What? You like crunch berries? Get out of my sight, you monster.’)

If their answers are yes, I have owned three of those things at a time, what’s shark week?, and I love crunch berries, you’re royally effed. You can escape one of two ways:

Escape Plan A: Calmly put your drink down, excuse yourself to make a phone call, sneak around to the other side of the bar, pay your tab and leave.

Escape Plan B) Shout "MURDERER! THIS PERSON IS A MURDERER!" Throw your drink at their face (it would be nice if the drink was on fire, just a thought) and run out the door, knocking barstools over and using human shields as you go. You’ll probably have to come back later, apologize and pay your tab so you don’t get thrown in jail.

These are literally your only two options. At any rate, get out of there as quickly as possible (but if it’s a girl with very tall stilettos, don’t turn your back on her. She’ll stab you in the head).


  1. I think to be safe i should just start taking you to bars with me, and you can warn me about potential serial killers.

  2. adriana, between the two of us, we can assure that no one talks to serial murderers and everyone washes their hands in the bathroom. i'm always up for screening patrons for you and bridget at at bar.

  3. No need to worry about the stiletto-wearing girl. She may stab you, but she can't chase you. According to your list, I may, in fact, be a serial killer.

  4. This would have been more helpful before I married Sam.