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I have seen THE THING?

No, I don’t mean the John Carpenter classic, or the 1951 original, also a classic. And the title of this article is not a question. The title–or should that be the name?–of The Thing? must always end with a question mark, regardless of whether or not one is asking anything. The Thing?–there really is no better word, here–is a, well, it’s a thing. A thing on display off Interstate 10 outside the small community of Dragoon, Arizona, near the infamous town of Tombstone. It is the ultimate “roadside” attraction, the kind one used to see a lot more often, when billboards were the main means of enticing motorists into stopping at one’s place of business to get gas and purchase sundries. The Thing? has been located at the same particular service station-slash-restaurant-slash gift shop since the 1950s. It still brings ’em in by the droves.

So what is it, you may ask? I will only tell you this much: According to the proprietress I spoke to when I stopped by to visit The Thing? last week, there are two origin stories. You may pick which one you wish to believe, or you may believe neither. Either The Thing? was discovered by a prospector in the Grand Canyon in he early 1900s, or else it was a carnival-style gaffe created for a party by an artist in the 1920s. Which do I think is true? Is The Thing? real or is it a gaffe? (Either way, I’d love it the same, as gaffes are for me holy objects.) After spending quite some time with my face pressed against the glass lid of the coffin-like structure in which it is contained, studying it in detail, far more detail, I daresay, than the vast majority of gawkers who have passed by to see it, I honestly don’t know. All I will say is, if it’s a fake, it’s a damn good one.

I will also say that, while it is possible to find some grainy photographs online of The Thing?, those pictures do it no justice. They don’t compare to seeing The Thing? in person. For my part, I will not spoil the mystery by showing you any of the up-close photographs I took of The Thing?. I will instead encourage you to see it for yourself, the next time you’re cruising through the Southwest. And yes, I DID drive a long, long way, deviating from my intended course by hundreds of miles, just to see The Thing? in person. And I’d do it again.

TheCheezman • September 19, 2017

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