A message to all husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends: Feed your significant other -- or else.
The "or else," in the case of a study performed recently at The Ohio State University, is your significant other stabbing pins into a voodoo doll that looks like you. Or he or she subjecting a video-game avatar of you to excruciatingly loud and annoying sounds, like nails on a chalkboard.
In a study performed by psychologist Brad Bushman at OSU, volunteers were more likely to stab voodoo dolls or torture video lookalikes of their partners when they were hungry. In a story on National Public Radio, Bushman blames these violent tendencies on low blood sugar.
We needed a study for this?
Anybody who lives with anybody else should be well aware that provoking a hungry partner is like poking a bear. And not Yogi Bear, Winnie the Pooh or Smokey the Bear, either.
(Yogi isn't threatening because he wears a hat and tie, and Pooh has no hands, which limits the damage he can inflict. Smokey, however, always looked vaguely threatening, like he might whack you over the head with a shovel if he caught you playing with matches in the woods. But when he talks, he sounds like somebody's grandpa, so that makes it all right.)
No, when I say "bear," I imagine something really big and nasty, like the one that eats the goofy researcher in the movie "Grizzly Man" or the one that chases the little girl in Stephen King's "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon."
My wife can tell horror stories of my rotten attitude when I'm hungry. Stay out of my way if I don't get breakfast. If I skip lunch, I'm generally OK, but if dinner is postponed by more than an hour or two, I'll Hulk out.
Spouses are the opposite of gremlins. You can and should feed them after midnight -- and any other times, too. Not doing so turns them evil.
The scary part of Bushman's research is that he involved voodoo dolls in the mix. According to the NPR story, he sent every volunteer out of his lab with directions on how to measure their blood sugar, a miniature voodoo doll and 51 pins.
Why 51 and not 50? Is that extra pin the one with which volunteers delivered the coup de grce to effigies of their poor, long-suffering partners? Is there a cosmic significance to 51?
Apparently, Bushman has never seen episodes of "The Twilight Zone" or "The Outer Limits" where some little fetish doll is always lying in wait for its unsuspecting victim. Sometimes, the prey is the person being stabbed, and sometimes it's the person doing the stabbing. You never know which one until you hear Rod Serling's booming baritone deliver a life lesson that applies only to people who attempt to murder their partners with straight pins and Barbie-doll knockoffs.
They say -- they being the first 100 people in the phone book -- that voodoo dolls are only as effective as a person's belief in them. So if you believe a spouse can kill by gouging a miniature stuffed version of you, then you might behave in a way that's reckless enough to cause your own demise, like walking in front of a steamroller or playing hopscotch over downed electrical wires.
So now this egghead is handing out little voodoo people to spouses and giving them 51 pins -- 51! -- to go a-stabbing. Is he insane? Promoting a belief in hoodoo or voodoo or doodoo?
All I know is that every time I get an annoying stitch in my side or in my leg from here on out, I'm going to check under my wife's side of the bed for a mini-me all porcupined with needles.
I don't expect to find a voodoo doll, of course. But just in case, I'll be plying her with lavish steak dinners to keep the grumblings in her stomach at bay. No sense tempting fate, after all.
Thanks, OSU, for another wonderful application of science in my daily life. Maybe it's time I started poking my Brutus mascot with a fork to see if I can influence a Michigan win.
Chris Schillig can be reached at email@example.com or @cschillig on Twitter