they call me spooky

Hand to God, my father — my rational, mathematically-minded, hard science-loving, fiscally conservative Republican father — swears he saw a UFO.

He was 17, and on the tractor. He’d just made a turn when he looked up and saw something in the sky straight ahead of him. It was large, silver, oval-shaped, and perfectly smooth. It descended silently just behind the woods on the north line of the property. When my dad went back there later to check the area out, he found nothing.

My grandfather didn’t believe him. He likely accused him, in his particular parlance, of having been “smokin’ dat pots” before seeing the mysterious craft. But my dad is certain it was there.

There are other strange tales from the farm. My aunt tells of seeing unexplained lights in the woods and around the property. And my hardened, work-worn great-grandmother used to take a perverse delight in telling my dad and his sister stories about the ghosts of Native Americans who were killed as they huddled in a hole in a nearby field when the Great Fire of 1881 swept over the land.

Something tells me she embellished a bit.

Me, I love this type of stuff. I can’t stomach death and gore in television and movies — my inability to adequately separate dramatic fiction from horrifying reality ruins it for me. And suspense and thriller films just make me so nervous and agitated that I want to throw up and run away and hide. But give me a documentary about paranormal events, and I’m happy as a clam. UFOs, strange beasts, demonic possession — it’s all gravy. But ghost stories, in particular, are my bread and butter. They’re like candy. Hard drugs. They’re like if you put layers of candy on buttered bread and then sprinkled hard drugs over the top. Yeah — like that. I would be forever happy if I had a television set that aired only four channels: NHL hockey, college football, Mad Men, and ghost shows. Okay, maybe a fifth, and that would be a mixture of Portlandia and X-Files episodes, Kids In the Hall sketches, and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 movies.1

The beau would not be so happy about this. His ideal television set would likely feature nature and animal documentaries, Burn Notice episodes, unlimited airings of the Die Hard/Lethal Weapon/Terminator films, and one channel devoted solely to gun battles, explosions, cars driving over cliffs in slow motion, and cars driving over cliffs and exploding in slow motion.

But that is neither here nor there.

Sometimes the ghost shows I watch border on hokey. I don’t mind. These are like the Tabatha’s Salon Takeover of paranormal programming. A little overwrought, a little silly, a little too easy to make fun of. They’re palate cleansers. Mental floss to prepare me for the hard-hitting stuff. You know, like Ghost Hunters.2

I love Ghost Hunters. The original version is better than the international version, though I have to admit the international version is like the Vegas buffet of paranormal events. Hell, I mean, with all that torment and tragedy and sheer history that went on over there, you’re almost guaranteed to witness supernatural phenomena just by walking down the street. Every square millimeter of Europe and the U.K. is probably slathered in ghosts.

I’ve never had a paranormal experience, which is part of the reason I’m fascinated with these stories. When I watch shows about the unexplained, I wonder: what would I do if I ever moved into a place that exhibited unusual activity? What would I do if I saw a spirit roaming the halls of my home? Would I freeze up? Would I try to flee? Would I casually offer it some buttered bread?3

Which brings me to you, dear reader. Have you ever had an personal encounter of the bizarre kind? Do you know a ghost story lovingly passed down from a family member or friend? If so, share it here! I need to read it. I have needs, dear reader.

And I promise I won’t even accuse you of smokin’ dat pots.

ZOMG you guys it's a ghost!!!11! Oh, wait. No. That's just me, in the process of performing Tom Petty's "American Girl" very badly and in very low light conditions.

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1 Sigh. Most of the pop culture I love is woefully outdated. And so it begins.

2 You realize I’m tittering as I type this, right? Which means I’m 1) yukking it up for the larfs, 2) high on this buttered hard drug candy sandwich, or 3) simply bar none Looney Tunes-grade cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. You get to choose.

3 There is only so far I can run with this joke, and I should have dropped it and left it on the side of the track several miles ago.

10 Responses to “they call me spooky”

  1. Ooohhh. I share this obsession. I have only lame ghost stories but I’m going to hang around in the comments and scare myself silly with other peoples’, if you don’t mind.

  2. Um. Two words: Unsolved Mysteries. But you know, the old school version, with Robert Stack. That shit ruined me for life — but in the best way possible. Do you remember those Scary Stories books? There were three of them? Yeah, our teacher used to read them to us when we were in kindergarten. I’m not kidding, it would be the best part of Fridays, turning off the lights and her reading us scary stories. Now I can’t get enough of that paranormal business. I’m not so much into Ghost Hunters, but I will watch the shit out of A Haunting. And, I’m sorry, a haunted pub crawl? Yes PLEASE.

    *ahem*

    I’ve never had a paranormal experience myself. My mom did, though. When she was a little girl, her parents were looking at this house they wanted to buy. The house was originally owned by a man who was apparently racist, but he had died and his son (who didn’t care who bought the house) was the one selling it. My grandparents, my mom, and the man’s son (the seller) were all in the basement, when my mom just happened to look up the staircase. “Standing” at the top of the stairs was a skeleton. She said that she didn’t feel it was malicious, she didn’t feel any kind of ill will or anything; it was just standing there, kind of wispy-ish, wavering a bit back and forth. And then it disappeared.

    They ended up buying the house, which my grandparents gave to my mom and dad years later, and where I spent the first 12 years of my life . . . without incident.

    OoooooooOOOOOOooooooooo.

    • I loved Unsolved Mysteries! And I just started watching A Haunting. I’m not sure if I remember the Scary Stories books… I’m going to have to Google it.

      Love the story from your mom. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Okay okay. Since the stories are slow in coming (Bueller? Bueller?), I’ll throw this one in. I’m probably going to retell it badly, because I only heard it once from a friend.

    During school, my friend spent a semester staying somewhere near London (sorry, forgot where exactly). The students were, for some reason, boarding in a very old building that at one point in its time used to house soldiers. They used to hear lots of loud noises, and she said the one she most often heard was the sound of footsteps walking up and down the hall outside her room. They sounded like heavy boots, back and forth, back and forth. One night she got up the nerve to look outside her door, and she saw an apparition of a man in a hat and uniform, but she could only see his head and shoulders. Below that, there was nothing. And after a few seconds, even that was gone.

    She didn’t sleep very well the whole time she was there.

  4. I don’t really have an good stories, but I did once stay at a youth hostel in Bergen, Norway, that is supposed to have a ghost. I heard the story after we booked; it was a old building and had been taken over by Nazis in WW2 during the occupation. It was supposed to have a little boy ghost that could be heard taking the cows (horses?) out of the stables (which were in bottom level of the building) and bringing them back in.

    And when I was in second grade, a teacher read us some scary story about a husband whose wife always wore a black velvet ribbon tied around her neck. Anyone know this one? Ugh, it traumatized me. I still get upset when I think about it. Sigh….I guess some memories stick around forever?

  5. Dare I Give My Name? April 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Oh Lord, I have a million of ’em. I have had adults make fun of me as a kid for repeating the things my grandmother believed. Let’s just do this one: my grandparents built a house in the woods in 1972. Nothing to see here, right? But no. It is VERY creepy, to the point that all my nightmares take place in the bedroom area of that house. Used to terrify me. AND here’s the story: there was a Driveway Ghost. They had a gravel driveway, and sometimes you would hear wheels on the driveway, the dogs would go apeshit, and there would be NO ONE THERE. Another time my grandmother was in the basement and heard footsteps upstairs – BUT THERE WAS NO ONE HOME. ANOTHER time I was in bed and heard someone walking down the metal spiral staircase into the basement. I was convinced someone was down there, but the basement door was between my bedroom and my grandparents’. I made a mad dash for it and was chastised for waking them up when there was clearly nothing going on. So there are a few of my spooky 1970s ranch stories.

    Also, out of curiosity: how do you feel about Paranormal Activity 2? ‘Cause that there movie freaked my shit RIGHT OUT. More than six months later, I still have to talk myself down from the idea that a possessed demon person is RIGHT BEHIND ME.

  6. I’M WITH YOU on Unsolved Mysteries for sure! I love that and I still dig Tales from the Crypt, even though it’s not…like…actually good.

    OOH! Dad saw a UFO huh? Did they make that movie Signs about your family?

  7. I totally believe in ghosts. I blame my parents. They’re Christian Scientists. When I was little, they tried to explain part of the doctrine now by explaining that bodies are temporary, but the spirit is real and forever. They also (at a later time) told me that in our religion, there is no concept of Heaven and Hell in the traditional Christian “afterlife” type idea. So I added everything up: People die, but their spirits are still around, and there is no Heaven or Hell where the spirits go. Obviously, they have to BE somewhere, so they must still be here.

    Aaannddd I slept with a nightlight on until I was 10.

    I also met a ghost of the making a room mysteriously cold and slamming doors to lock me out of a room variety once when I was staying at a haunted hotel in Colorado. This one:
    http://www.legendsofamerica.com/co-hotelcolorado.html

    I didn’t see her, but my friend and I were in the Deveraux penthouse suite so that we could take photos of the Christmas lights along Main Street. We were inside the room when it got suddenly very cold, but not exactly in a temperature-cold sort of way, just creepy cold, and I could smell an old-style perfume. We went out onto the balcony, careful to leave the door wide open because it was winter and cold (and because I was scared o’ the ghosties). While we were both standing on the balcony, there was NO breeze at all, but the door suddenly slammed behind us. I could hear the door being locked, and for a few minutes when we wiggled it, the door wouldn’t open. Then, suddenly, it did.

    And we ran like hell.

  8. I’ll just say this: the freaky friend + Oujia board = fuck that shit. Don’t mess with the other worlds.

  9. oh. my. god. ghost hunters is good but good adventures is better. nothing like a couple bros calling ghosts jerks to make some quality television. I also enjoy ‘unsolved mysteries’ and ‘the haunted’ to satisfy my hokey ghost needs. the haunted is on animal planet and always involves a dog knowing their a ghost first by ‘barking at nothing’

    I love that your dad saw a ufo! mine smokes ‘dat pot’ but has never seen nada

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