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Tuesday, March 26, 2013


"The End of the Line," one of several scenes from my preferred Underworld.
I've written ghost stories, and I've drawn pictures of ghosts and reanimations. I'd like nothing better than to believe in ghosts. However, I do not believe in them, citing a lack of sensory information, plausible rationale, and empirical evidence. Apparently I am nearly alone in this.

Not only is everyone reading the tar out of this Sylvia Browne book, "Visits from the Afterlife," it sounds like they are using it as a self-help guide.

After her grandmother died, my wife immediately began to interpret little somethings as Grandma's signals from beyond. This makes a certain sense, especially considering the days of sorting through Grandma's mementos and old belongings cast a kind of unavoidable spell of bygone days resurrected. Best of all was a photo over 80 years old showing an apparent doppelganger of my wife as a child—roughly 40-50 years before she was even born—as if hanging out like a playmate in Grandma's childhood.

My wife's pre-clone, second from left, bottom row.
Of course, doppelgangers are another matter entirely, especially within family trees where they are easily explained away by genetic rehashing. My own mother used to insist I was her dad reincarnated. This was especially problematic since he was still alive until I was 2 or 3, making for two scenarios: I was a soulless golem until he passed away (into me), or he was an astral pirate of sorts, who, worse than stealing candy from a baby, would steal corporeal form from a toddler. Either way, I can't remember. But, now I watch my daughter every day, on a relentless quest to crawl and climb into the same kind of cuckoo dangers that put her dear old Da-Da into countless falls, scrapes and stitch-me-ups. Heritable traits put the DNA in "reincarnated." (yes, those letters are in there—haha!)

Then we took a trip to Springfield's Pythian Castle for my mother-in-law's birthday, including a "ghost tour." A guy told us tales from the castle's remarkable century of history, emphasizing the numerous deaths and traumas that occurred there. We walked dim chambers, halls, even dungeons. He credulously reported many instances of paranormal activity. Photo after photo was clicked, and my wife's uncle said he saw a little boy run from one room to another—a boy who was not on the tour. I missed it, of course. And no apparitions manifested in any of the photos, not even a single glowing orb or rod. Rods! Rods! My kingdom for a rod!

I tried complaining about ghostamania to my sister, but she, too, reported paranormal activity. She said one of her daughters, at the age of 3-4, talked about playing with two little boys (the sons of their nanny) who died in an accident the previous year. She said it without any fanfare or drama, and after about a year she didn't play with the dead boys anymore. Did they move on, or did my niece grow out of her sensitive stage, losing her sixth sense and thus becoming ghost-blind like Uncle Chad? Yes, this is the most credible of the ghostly tales I've heard thus far, having the classic requisites of small introverted child, untimely deaths, and even people of another culture (Mexicans), which I in my Eurocentric arrogance grant greater proclivity to spiritual acumen for some reason... not unlike what we assign to children, in some Hollywood-flavored formula where childlike Mexican-ness will give a person instant access to the Other Side, or at least an alternate Disneyland where Mickey Mouse is Chupacabra Miguel.

In my defense, Mexicans do celebrate El Dia de Los Muertos.

In closing, remember, only YOU can prevent hauntings—by clinging desperately to the concepts of rational consensus reality.