Thursday, 15 November 2012

I Am Afraid of No Ghosts...

Hello Friends.

In the revenge fantasies of my childhood, I always cast myself as a ghost. So if some other kid was an asshole and I needed to think of fanciful things to fall asleep, I'd imagine an elaborate scenario wherein I was a ghostly presence who would sneak into his bedroom and mess with his stuff. Steal his money, smash his toys, etc. And he'd be all "Uhhhh whose doin' that?" (you should've heard this kid-total moron). I'd respond in a ghost-voice, "It's meeee! I'm messing with your stuuuff! I'm a ghooooost!" and I'd spill a bowl of potato chips on his floor or, if I was feeling particularly churlish, smother him with a pillow.

Now that I'm older, my revenge fantasies to fall asleep are less supernatural and more convoluted. If a friend jokes that I eat like a pig, for instance, I might fantasize about sleeping with her boyfriend, then her father. If an actor I hate lands a series of plum acting roles, I fantasize about buying a national theatre, casting him as Torvald in A Doll's House, cancelling the production, then sleeping with his boyfriend/father.

What's weird is, although my revenge fantasies have matured (I'm pretty sure matured is the right word here), my notion of ghosts and haunting is exactly the same. They remain as unknown and scary as ever. I want no part of it.

Dream: Never get haunted by ghosts.

Goal: Achievable. Maybe this is tempting fate to an insane degree, but I don't think ghosts have the internet or anything, so I'm going to just say that ghosts sound like assholes. From what little I've gleaned from horror movies, tabloid media, and those ghost-hunter shows, a certain number of factors are common in all haunting. Therefore, it stands to reason if I eliminate these factors, I eliminate the possibility of ghostly activity.

Plan: Observe the following rules forever to keep the spirits at bay.

1) Never live in an old house surrounded by nothing. Oh man, ghosts love old houses! Do you have a musty attic? Did you build your home over a gravesite? Do your pipes clank sometimes but then sometimes its ghosts? Then you have ghosts. And it's always old houses, you'll notice, because the ghosts are always spurned lovers, young soldiers, or eerily calm children from like a hundred years ago! How come there are never stories of a young couple haunted in their condo that was built in the 1980s after a roadhouse bar burned to the ground? And the ghost is named Donna and she has a jean jacket and crispy bangs? That would almost be kinda fun!

2) Don't have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I saw this one show where this woman breathlessly recounted her haunting by saying, "When I went to bed that night, all the chairs were pushed into the dining room table. When I awoke the next morning, one of the chairs had been pulled out!" Are you fucking kidding me? How neat and orderly does your house have to be, how ensconced in a routine are you, that one chair out of place is an impossibility? You didn't just get up from the table and leave it there! It had to have been an apparition! Oh my god, get a hobby or something! Loosen the reigns on your life a little. Plus, if the worst a ghost is doing is pulling out your chairs, just be cool about it. Less effort for you to sit down to take your psychotropic pill regimen every morning.

3) Stop indulging the believer. Have you ever seen that show Psychic Kids on A&E? It's about kids who supposedly see ghosts in their homes and A&E brings in a Medium to talk to the ghosts and figure it all out. The Medium is this fantastic gentleman named Chip Coffey. Chip Coffey is a LEGIT Southern Dandy. He wears scarves and spectacles and always pulls his chin into his face when he's doubtful and says things like, "Oh my starrrrs! You git on outta here, you silly ghosts!" (Here is a picture of Psychic Medium Chip Coffey). Anyway, kidding aside, what's really disturbing is the fact that these kids approach their parents and say, "I see a ghost!" and the PARENTS say, "Oh holy shit! Really? Oh my god!" They greet the claims of their kid (who, I'm sorry, is never a popular, well-adjusted child anyway) with total belief and support. I can just imagine my own father's reaction if I came to him and told him there was a ghost in my bedroom: "Oh yeah? Maybe he'll practice your goddamn clarinet for you. Quit dickin' around!" And that would be the end of it. These kids on this show are TERRIFIED! But the parents don't treat them with any skepticism, and in fact, lavish copious attention on little Timmy, call the folks at A&E, spend a high-strung and finicky afternoon with Chip Coffey, who somehow fixes everything (no skepticism ever greets his "exorcisms" either).

I guess I'm an asshole for treating the idea of ghosts with tongue planted firmly in cheek. I think if I were to believe fully in hauntings, I'd also have to make decisions about what I believe the afterlife is like. Maybe we don't all turn to dust, maybe we don't meet our maker, maybe we just hang out and rattle chains. Plus, I know people who claim they've encountered ghosts. My dear old grandmother said, right after her husband, my grandfather, died, the following thing happened: She was getting ready for bed and at her bedside she had one of those 3-way touch lamps that go bright, brighter, brightest, when you tap it with your hand. She says that while she was making her bed, the lamp started to go bright, brighter, brightest, bright, brighter, brightest, even though she wasn't touching it. It happened again and again and eventually she left her room and went downstairs and realized that she had left the front door of the house unlocked. She says she laughed! She locked the door, went back upstairs, where the lamp was behaving itself, and went to bed. She says that was my grandfather looking out for her. Reminding her to lock the damn front door, Jeanette. If that's what ghosts are, old loved ones trying to connect, to keep us safe, maybe I shouldn't be so closed off to the idea. For now though, I'll get ready for bed with Dr. Jon, ensure the front door is locked up tight, and let the chips fall where they may.

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