THE HAUNTENING

Let’s talk for a moment about haunted houses. I got to thinking about them recently when a friend confided in me that whenever she saw a Facebook post from a real estate agency advertising a house for sale, she liked to write “Haunted as f–k!” in the comment section to try to bring housing prices down. Altruistic as this may be, I must say that I sympathize with people who are terrified of the idea of moving into a haunted house.

As a vagabond, I move quite frequently. Since leaving home, I have not lived in the same apartment for more than 3 years. On average, I usually move after two. During those first few nights in a new home, I am not above admitting that I do leave a light on when I go to bed and do not begin turning it off until I feel assured that I will not see, feel, or hear something other-wordly. Funny how it’s those three senses that scare us the most. We never seem too concerned about smell or taste. Oh, sure, if it’s particularly foul, we will try to eradicate the source, but we seldom associate these things with the spirit realm. We often hear of hauntings that are accompanied by a foul smell, a stench like “rotting flesh” or just “death,” but the smell alone is never enough to send people packing. And I have yet to hear of a haunting that is accompanied by a terrifying flavor.

“Has anyone here ever lived in a haunted house?”

“Yes!”

“Couldn’t afford the medication, eh?”

We often make a joke of the victims of hauntings, and yet I do believe that there is some truth to the phenomenon. I have read that “ghosts” are harmless and little more than an echo of the past imprinted on the present. This is why ghosts are often seen doing repetitive things. A friend of mine from college grew up in a haunted house, and her parents still live there. She reported the frequent occurrence of waking up to see the visage of an old man entering her room and rooting through the hamper at the foot of her bed, like he was looking for something before fading away. Her fiance at the time, a childhood friend of mine, made fun of her when she spoke of her ghostly experiences. That was until soon after their engagement, when he stayed in her room while they were visiting her family. He nearly jumped out of his own skin when the shadowy old codger made his entrance and began his search of his fiance’s unmentionables. He tried to rouse his betrothed, but she would not open her eyes and just said, “Yes, I know. Go back to sleep!”

I have a theory that ghosts are an emotional imprint, and this is why they are so often associated with murders or suicides. If a person is expressing strong emotion when they die, it may leave a sort of imprint, but not necessarily a consciousness. Then again, there is the well-known haunting of the local university library in my home town. The library is a large, old building that was preserved as a national historic landmark, and has stood there since the late 1800s when it was the solitary building of a finishing school for young women. The ghost inhabiting that building is a young girl that committed suicide around the time of World War I. Visitors to the building to this day claim that they have communicated with the young girl, so who knows? At least she is friendly.

The worrisome entities are of the more “demonic” nature. These are the ones that, unlike ghosts, seem to have a functioning intellect and can interact with the living, and tend to do so in terrifying and sometimes physically harmful ways. We’ve all heard the stories, so I won’t dwell on this topic too much. If you want some goosebumps, go to YouTube and search “demonic hauntings.” I’m sure you will find a plethora of eerie entertainment to keep you awake. I know I have. These “demonic” entities seem to be intrusions from another dimension that have a severe dislike of the people in this dimension.

Usually when one hears the story of a family that moved into a haunted house, it always begins the same way: “We thought we had found our dream home. When we finally closed the deal, we were so happy. But then, a few weeks after we moved in…” Why is it always a few weeks after they move in? Why don’t the boogums begin their antics the moment these people are taking the open-house tour of the property? Do they know it will be that much worse if they wait until the poor unsuspecting suckers have finalized the deal, money has changed hands, and the people have completed the arduous task of moving in? Do they find this all funny? Is there, perhaps, some rule among the entities that no haunting activities may occur for the first 3 weeks? “No, no, no, sh-sh-shhhhh! Wait!… Wait til they’ve finished redoing the bathroom! This is gonna be hilarious! That’s right… pick out the high-gloss tiles… Oh! He chose the Inax toilet! Wait til I manifest in the mirror while he’s on that thing!” Hilarious.

I will bet there is a mathematically accurate ratio for Cost$Home:How Long They Keep Saying, “Probably Just The Wind.” Those people in Poltergeist must have spent a fortune. They didn’t flee until moments before their whole house was sucked into another dimension. Of course, the demonic entities were holding their youngest daughter hostage, so that may have been a factor.

Have you ever walked or driven past a house, and someone has remarked, “That house looks haunted!” Well, that’s just racist! Or… housist? Does a house have to look like the Munsters live there to be haunted? Hell no! My home town had no fewer than THREE renowned haunted houses — and that’s not even including the university library — and all of them looked like your typically pleasant suburban homes. Come to think of it, my town seems to have had an inordinate number of hauntings for a town that only had one traffic light until they put in the Wal*Mart… . Anyone have Stephen King’s number?

I guess my conclusion would be that ghosts and demons are hilarious. Especially when you have a full-blown possession on your hands. It’s bad enough when an entity is haunting your house, but what happens when they haunt your very body? The hilarity ensues, that’s what! Actually, no. Hauntings can be very serious situations, and a possession is just unthinkably horrible. If you experience anything like this, call the Catholic Church and they will send ’round a priest to inappropriately touch your children. On second thought, don’t call those shysters. You know what? Just do what you always scream at the people in the movie to do and get the f–k out of there.

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