The Not So Scary Ghost
There is a haunted house in my parent’s town. The house was built in the late 1700s. A family was murdered there in the early 1800s, and a fire gutted the inside of the building. It was rebuilt soon after that, but it has been vacant on-and-off for the last 200 years because — legend goes — the family that was murdered in the house haunts it. You can see the house from the road, hidden by the trees, and the kids and I have ventured as far as the driveway, which is marked by many signs stating the trespassers will be prosecuted. It is currently owned by a man who opens it up as a “haunted house” attraction near Halloween. The rest of the year, it lies dormant.
The ChickieNob — a huge fan of ghosts and all things haunted — was interested in getting tickets and going inside until she discovered that it was just a bunch of teenagers in scary costumes writhing around on the floor. “I want to see a real haunted house and talk to real ghosts; not waste an hour looking at what someone thinks a haunted house should be like.”
Because here’s the thing: why are ghosts always portrayed as something scary? I mean, if I were a ghost, I wouldn’t make a rocking horse creepily bow back and forth to get someone’s attention.
Image: Thomas Quine via Flickr
Real ghosts don’t give a shit about rocking horses.
Look at it this way: Real kids don’t really play with rocking horses save for a few months of childhood. Fine, I’ll accept that a toddler ghost may play with a rocking horse to get our attention, but anyone over the age of five? Unlikely.
Human ghosts are still humans. I mean, we don’t suddenly morph into being squirrels or goats. We’re people. And human ghosts would behave like people. I suspect that if I were a ghost, I would behave with strangers the same way I behave around strangers currently at the grocery store. I don’t try to freak out people buying grapes or make the people behind me in line quiver. I either ignore them or make small talk.
As a human ghost amongst strangers, I would mostly be curious about all the things they’re using that weren’t around when I was alive. I’d be all, “hey, what’s that crazy piece of wearable technology you have over your forehead, kid?” Maybe I would move said piece of strange technology — I mean, THAT makes sense. Slide that puppy across the floor toward the person so they’ll put it on and show me how to use it. But rocking horses? Or making curtains blow? Seriously, what ghost is going to bother with that?
I plan on being an inquisitive ghost that keeps up to date on the latest advances in technology. I am hoping that the humans I lurk around leave open Web pages so I can read them too. In fact, realizing how I want to be in the afterlife, I’m thinking about placing the latest issue of People magazine on my dining room table and turning the pages every five minutes so any ghosts in the room can keep up to date with celebrity gossip. THAT is what ghosts would care about; the same sort of drivel we care about while we’re living.
“Maybe they’re angry,” Josh offered. “Maybe the family that was murdered is still angry and that’s why they’re haunting people.”
Give me a break. I hold a grudge against people who have pissed me off. But strangers? Even at my angriest, I don’t take out my frustration on strangers. I don’t think ghosts — even angry ghosts — would turn their anger towards people who weren’t even alive when they were murdered hundreds of years ago. I really hope that after 200 years, they could set aside their spite and enjoy watching someone use their iPhone. That has got to be cool for someone who died in the early 1800s.
I like the idea of ghosts. I would be comforted to have someone I lost still with me. I know that idea doesn’t sell tickets nor does it feed into the general festivities surrounding Halloween. But I’m sticking to my version of ghost stories.