Not your usual schoolboy crush

Some words evoke an automatic sense of sweetness. Words like "sugar," "yes" and "complimentary" make one feel better for having heard them. I always thought "crush" was one of those words. So few people in this world are even palatable that having a crush on someone, thinking they're the best thing since cake, is a hopeful moment in the cycle of deflation that life can be if you're not very rich. It doesn't matter if it's the girl next door or a celebrity that you're just stalking until they realize you are the love of their life. Crushes are a little crazy, but they're a charming concept.

Or were, until a single story ruined the word "crush" for me, maybe forever. The word has been tirelessly turning my stomach lately, all because of reading about a world-class freak episode that happened in Okeechobee. Stephanie Loudermilk was arrested on charges of animal cruelty. She didn't kick the dog or sacrifice a chicken. She stepped on small animals and crushed them to death. Not cockroaches -- that would be simple housekeeping in Florida. We're talking about little creatures like the ones who sang backup in Bambi, mice and rabbits. Rabbits. That's like saying someone stood on top of the Taco Bell chihuahua until it stopped saying, "Hurt me."

An Associated Press account of the case noted a possible "sexual fetish that involves men internalizing the pain of the animals being stepped on while imagining themselves being crushed by a woman."

Set your preferences

Mmmkay. I can see those of you who fancy yourselves worldly saying, "Hmm, that's new," like you just got a geography question wrong on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?," when what you might prefer to do is let your eyes bug out like some broad the size of the Chrysler Building just stepped on you. Crushing hasn't made it to the deviant wing of the cultural consciousness, like bondage, foot fetishes and "OK, I'll be the hillbilly and you be Ned Beatty," so a lot of us don't know a lot about it.

Thank God for the incredible educational tool that is the Internet. Katharine Gates, author of "Deviant Desires, Incredibly Strange Sex," has a website on which she profiles Mistress Adrena, or "Queen Kong" (her pro-wrestling name), the six-foot, 300-pound "premier giantess fantasy facilitator of America." Guys who like being squished are into the pressure and the aggressive contact. Queen Adrena is quoted as saying these men "are on a higher level. I just sense that some of them actually have guilt for an entire society. They want to be punished because of the rules that most of society has placed upon women." At 50, and having done this for 20 years, she ought to know.

OK, the fifth-period psychology educational film is done, and now we all realize that there are some guys whose dream is to have Nell Carter steamroll them. Whatever. Sexual predilections, like most desires, are a mystery. I hear people gush on about Matthew McConaughey (so horrible) or Russell Crowe (so generic) and think, "I wouldn't put my mouth on either one of them if they were made of cheese." But a lot of people like them. The principle is the same in this case.

Urge overkill

This is not to condone or dismiss those who take out sado-masochistic tendencies on small animals, which is pretty heinous. So much so that even Congress responded. A story in the Village Voice noted the discreet passage last fall of House Resolution 1887, prohibiting "the interstate sale and transport of crush videos." How did this law happen to pass without so much as an "eek" ? You'd think after everything we had to hear about Clinton and Monica and that damned cigar that something like this would have escalated the pervert stakes in the press to a high-roller level, but evidently not. Maybe there was no controversy because, after all, who would come out as a champion of crushing Thumper? Maybe at some point the weirdness becomes exhausting and everyone can agree to just quietly close the book on it and go home.

There is one aspect of this case that isn't closed yet. There is a death being investigated, a human one. Bryan Loudermilk, the one who is supposed to have filmed these videos of his wife critter-clogging, was found dead in a shallow pit under some boards, under an SUV. The Voice story says, "Police concluded Loudermilk's pulpy demise came as a result of an attempt to fulfill his ultimate crushing fantasy." No charges have been filed in his death, but the investigation is what led to the discovery of the crush videos, which Stephanie claims Bryan forced her to make.

You don't need a Sherlock hat to see the poetic justice in this comeuppance. It's karma. But it's not just the little animals. It's that I'll never be able to hear the song "I've Got a Crush on You" without getting queasy. Killing roaches isn't even going to be easy. It's a helluva mental block to have underfoot.


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