U.S. News

03.23.14

Lesser Mysteries for Those With Breaking News Fatigue

Is the missing plane driving you insane? Worry about these far less important riddles in the news.

If you are like every single other person in the world, you’ve been keeping up on the story of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. By “keeping up,” I mean “obsessively devouring every bit of news, speculation, conspiracy theory, and even metaphysical questions posed by the fact that I guess a plane with 239 people on it can just disappear and no one has the slightest clue where, why or how.”

It is, in short, a big fucking mystery. Terribly mysterious, even. But it’s not a good mystery. In fact, it’s an awful mystery. As Pico Iyer so eloquently wrote in the New York Times, “It’s been humbling, as well as horrifying, to see the entire globe, in an age of unprecedented data accumulation, up in the air. ... We imagine how those with loved ones on the plane must be trying to fill the absence, of knowledge as well as of their sons or wives, and how they may fear, even if at times they long for, certainty. We imagine the people on the aircraft...”

So unless you are personally in command of a vast armada stationed in the Indian Ocean, it may be time to take a backseat on 370 armchair sleuthing and turn your attention to gentler, lower-stakes mysteries. The kind that involve zero anguished relatives screaming into the uncaring airport terminal void. Here are five other in-the-news mysteries to get you started.

1. The Mystery of the Baller Cop

Location: A basketball court in San Antonio.

The Facts: 12-year-old Jacob Aguirre was playing pick-up basketball with some of his friends when an SAPD officer pulled over his car… and played with them for 15 minutes. Jacob told KENS5 that the officer was good. “I caught up but lost him,” he said. “I think he’s nice because he took the time to do it.”

Questions remaining: Who is this kindly, athletic cop? Is he actuallykindly, or was he just fulfilling a lifelong dream of beating a bunch of 12-year-olds? Can he dunk? If you worked hard enough, would you be able to dunk? How would you feel if you lost to 12-year-olds in basketball?

2. The Mystery of Mystery House Boozing Implications

Location: The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, Calif.

The Facts: When faced with the loss of her husband and child, Sarah Winchester did what all of us would do if we had $20 million and were insane: kept her face covered by a veil at all times and built a batshit crazy mansion with stairs that go nowhere, and meandered constantly through it to avoid ghosts. Now, it’s a tourist attraction and as of March 5, you can get drunk there!

Questions remaining: Who will be the first person to throw up in the mansion, and will this immediately trigger some sort of haunting? Are ghosts more or less scary when you’re drunk? Was Sarah Winchester the real-life Miss Havisham? Can ghosts get drunk, and if so, what is that like?

3. The Mystery of Justin Timberlake’s Mystery Couple

Location: A Hollywood PR firm whose hourly rate is more than your annual salary (probably).

The Facts: On Thursday, Timberlake debuted his video for “Not a Bad Thing” on Ellen, the premise of which is finding a mysterious Long Island couple who got engaged to the song on a train. MYSTERY COUPLE, WHO ARE YOU? Let JT, and the world, know!

Questions Remaining: Wait, what? How did they even hear about this couple? There is zero chance this is real, right? Who proposes on the Long Island Rail Road? What does love mean to Justin Timberlake? Do celebrities have their own set of special, celebrity-only emotions?

4. The Mystery of the Walmart “Podiatrist” Perv

Location: Lincolnton, N.C. Town motto: "History, Arts, Culture...They All Find a Home in Lincolnton!"

The Facts: On Monday, something much more sinister found a home in the Lincolnton Walmart. Michael Brown convinced an innocent shopper that he was a foot doctor and would help her find just the right shoes. And then he put her foot in his mouth. The victim later told WBTV: “When I stretched out my foot and started moving, he grabbed my foot and stuck it in his mouth and started licking it. I said, ‘What's happening, what’s wrong? What’s wrong with you?’ He said ‘Oh, I’m sorry ma’am, forgive me. If you forgive me, I’ll buy your groceries but please don’t tell anybody.’”

Questions remaining: Ugh, seriously, that happened to a human being? Is this a one-off or is Brown working the fake podiatrist long-con? What other kinds of doctors could one pose as in Walmart? How many dollars worth of groceries would you, personally, need to feel OK about this happening? Does this story make you feel like possibility as you understood it just opened up in about six new, awful ways?

5. The Mystery of a Dude That Was Having a Nice Time Drinking at a Resort But Then for Reasons Known Only to Him, Grabbed an Uzi, Put on a Rambo Outfit and Went on a Rampage

Location: Take a wild guess.

The Facts: It’s the classic Florida tale, told since time immemorial: a guy was drinking in a bar, seemed perfectly fine, and then left only to return dressed as Rambo, complete with an assault rifle and two hunting knives. Also, the three men who wrestled him to the ground were arrested the next day in an unrelated bar fight, so there’s that.

Questions Remaining: Had he purchased this outfit ahead of time, and if so, where? What was his internal monologue like when he put on his costume? Did he stop to admire his scary, insane self in a mirror? How excited were those three guys to FINALLY have a legitimate reason to bar brawl? How is Florida so eternally and unchangeably itself?

All right, sleuthers. Get to it!