EP 5: THE WINONAMETER (STRANGER FILES AND THINGS)
Greetings and autumnal salutations. We’ve been reading a lot of Files, so it’s time to heaux-handle a Thing. It’s the halfway point of the season, and thus a good time to introduce The Winonameter, a tool for measuring the hotness of a mess. And by mess I mean person. The scale is based on a statistically significant sample of my secret vision board of favorite characters played by Winona Ryder. Much like the fire danger level at a national park, it tells you how quickly you may have to run for cover. Use this tool to rate Joyce and friends, or apply it to your own life. For instance, I’m at a Little Women when I’m doing a crossword puzzle and watching my serial killer stories, how about you?
At the clean and cool end, we have Little Women. A dash of heartache, a bit of the plague, but nothing you can’t handle. Besides, any ugly cries you do in private will just make your cheeks rosier for the holidays. Festive!
Joyce Byers dials in at Little Women when she’s safely in the sensual arms of Bob the Vampire, slow-dancing in the comfort of her own mania den. I’m calmer just thinking about it.
Next is the Edward Scissorhands level. Start with serenity and add just a tinge of the fear that comes from tonguing a set of knives. The blades bring a little heat, but you’re still a porcelain doll in a snowglobe and thus flame resistant.
Joyce registers at Edward Scissorhands when she’s safely in the sensual arms of Daytime Bob the Radio Shack Employee, making out in the storage closet at work. Her heart says “everything’s okay,” but her eyes whisper “slightly dangerous.”
Beetlejuice is the level when mess potential comes into play. You’ll probably survive the simmering mess because your afro and pointy bangs are good head protection, but you won’t smile about it.
Joyce pretty much lives at Beetlejuice, it’s her default. These are the days when Bob has to work late selling remote control cars, but at least the unnamed evil tearing apart her family is relatively quiet. (Plus, we’ve already discussed the finer points [pun, as always, intended] of Joyce’s hair.)
A tad hotter than Beetlejuice is The Crucible. Shit gets real and even your tight little bonnet can’t keep the lid on all of your feelings. Lives at stake and whatnot. (Stake is not a pun. Those heauxs were hanged. Facts!)
Joyce is having a Crucible day when she’s screaming at someone and backing it up with her eyebrows, but hasn’t yet pulled out the axe. Joyce thrives in The Crucible. It’s her sweet spot.
The penultimate slice of hot mess pie is Girl, Interrupted. It’s the volcano about to blow, the pot of sauce about to boil over, the girl who’s about to speak but is interr--
“Look out, demogorgon!”
--rupted. Oh. My god. The rage. Of being. Interrupted.
This is full Upside Down Joyce, axe-heaving, crayon-shredding, teeth-baring, living-her-best-self Joyce. The Joyce who finishes what she starts. Except for decorating the walls of her home, that’s always ongoing, Winchester-style.
The end of the scale, Heathers, is rare. It’s maximum beast mode, the full kaboom. I like to think that we have not yet seen Joyce Byers reach a Heathers. I like to think that there is more Joyce to bust out than Joyce has Joyced so far. I’m chasing that Winona high, and I need to believe I haven’t peaked.
Come on, Joyce. Let’s see what you can do if you really try.
Who knows what danger will send the Winonameter needle all the way off the scale...but it’s definitely stranger.
P.S. On the side of the box of Winonameters, which originally held a year's worth of Atari Age magazines, it says “designed by Nathan Petts, Honorary Heaux.”