Friday, October 29, 2004

Hoppy Halloween

You like that? It’s a little play on words, you know, “hoppy” because of the Easter Bunny.

I know it’s a couple days early, but if you think that I’m going to take a break from candy eating on the first “official” day off from my diet, you’re sadly mistaken. But, again, it’s Halloween (almost) so I thought that I would dedicate this post to the times that I’ve been a giant jerk to my friends. Well, not all of the times, I have things to do.

I take pleasure in a lot of different things, but none of my hobbies have been as rewarding as “friend scaring.” When I was younger and had the energy for such things, I used to like to devise elaborate plans to make my friends cry in terror. It started when I was a kid. As I’ve said before, my dad used to have a really creepy house. All of my friends were afraid of it. Sure, it didn’t stop them from spending the night every other day and eating all my food. But, while they may have stayed the night there, they didn’t sleep much.

One of the great Wheeling scare fests involved a séance. We loved to have séances. No real ones of course. I don’t believe in séances and such. But I didn’t need to believe in the occult, my goofy friends believed enough for everybody. And when they’re the ones you’re trying to scare, that’s all that’s important.

Besides, if you believe in ghosts too much, a good fake séance can backfire, leaving you with a bad case of “heavy drawers.” That’s a big taboo. Don’t be the idiot who scares themselves more than others with their fake ghost stories.

So I spent all morning and afternoon preparing for the big séance. There were going to be about 10 people in attendance and things had to be perfect. I made up a zodiac circle to protect against evil spirits, I checked out books on the occult and Satanism from the Wheeling Library (they had a remarkably large selection), I prepared ashes (paper…said they were human), candles and I even obtained a huge vial of chicken blood. No, not real chicken blood. It was about a half gallon of V8 juice. But my friends thought it was real, which is strange. Maybe that’s why they were so frightened; they were dealing with a kid who just slaughtered the world’s bloodiest chicken.

Anyway, the séance was set. It was going to be terrifying. But as was usually the case, my dumb dad and sister decided to screw with my plan. They got the brilliant notion to rig the séance with a metal rod that would raise the table a convincing couple of inches, even from 3 feet away. They weren’t going to tell me about it, but right before the séance I found out anyway.

I would’ve been mad except that their idea was really good. Besides, I wasn’t up for a fight; I was still tired from my battle with the giant chicken.

Anyway, all my friends showed up. One of them (a Cunningham) was a recent born-again. He was vehemently opposed to raising evil spirits. He believed in them horribly. It didn’t help that he went to one of “those” churches. The kind that would have handled poisonous snakes, if only anyone in the West Virginia congregation would be willing to give up their supper for an afternoon.

So we gathered around the table and began channeling sprits. Needless to say, thanks to my dad’s contraption, they eventually showed up. My friends were terrified. My sister and I just laughed uncontrollably. We laughed to the point that we were banned from the séance room.

Remarkably, no one caught on. They still believed in the séance because, and this is the truth, my dad had them convinced that we were possessed.

After everyone got so scared that they couldn’t take it anymore, we quit. No one wanted to go back in that room. No one except for my born-again Cunningham friend. He wanted to go back in there and keep séanceing until the table had risen all the way to the ceiling.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we didn’t have a metal rod that big. In fact, we never told them it was fake. I hope they don’t still believe that they channeled spirits.

No wait, yes I do. That would be sweet.

We had a taste for blood. We decided to devise an even scarier plot for the next summer.

My dad’s house has this really impressive front entrance. There was a huge staircase that wound all the way up three floors. Under the staircase on the main floor was an enclosure. Nothing could get under the staircase. In one of my more delinquent moods I decided to push on one of the oak panels that adorned the enclosure. Much to my dismay, I actually pushed it in. but only on one side, now the panel acted as if it were on hinges.

But it was still cool. I could hide my misdeed, plus it made my own secret window into the world under the stairs. When I looked into it with a flashlight I learned that there was a hole in the floor of the enclosure. If you went onto the basement, walked into the very dirty coal room (my dad’s house was old) and climbed on the pile of coal that was had been there since 1925, you could reach up into the enclosure and put stuff there to be “discovered” later.

We already had the perfect thing to discover. My dad had found a diary belonging to an old lady who lived in the house around the 30s. It was a pretty unexceptional diary. Not very interesting, unless you consider counting the number of games of bridge a lonely old lady played with her spinster sister exciting.

We decided to spice the thing up a little. I know, I would never destroy something like that now, but at the time it seemed like a cool thing to do.

My sister practiced a little and eventually managed to mimic the old lady’s handwriting. We added all kinds of cool stuff. But my personal favorite was a story about the old lady’s daughter.

As it turns out, the daughter was having some kind of affair. Tragically, she became pregnant. An illegitimate child could be the end of her, so she holed up in the house until she finally gave birth. But she still couldn’t keep the baby. That’s when things took a tragic turn.

Seeing no other option (she was a little dim) she decided to take her newborn baby and place it in the dumbwaiter (which the house still had the doors to). Then she raised the dumbwaiter all the way to the top, past the third floor, far enough away that the cries of the baby wouldn’t be too loud and disturbing.

Eventually, the cries ceased and the woman lowered the dumbwaiter into the basement. She took her dead child and placed it in the giant furnace at the back of the basement. After the baby was cremated, she scooped up the ashes, placed them in a bottle, placed the bottle back into the furnace and kept it there, never using the furnace again.


Now the stage was set. The only thing left to do was fill a wine bottle with sandbox sand, hide it in the very scary looking old furnace in the basement, and then place the diary under the stairs to be “found.”

The last part was the only problem with the plan. We got so excited about scaring our friends that we forgot to hide the diary. So I had to do it while everyone was there. It was lame but it still worked (I’m really starting to realize just how dim my friends were).

So we read the entries “for the first time” and set out to “find” the final resting place of the infant.

Sure enough, we made our way through my dad’s really-really scary stone basement toward the furnace. I opened the door and there it was. A bottle, just as described in the diary.

Gripped by “terror” I pulled the bottle out of the furnace with such force that the “baby ashes” flew all over the room, covering my poor friends.

Let me tell you, I’ve never experienced it personally, but being covered in baby ashes is traumatic business. Just ask my friends, who even after I explained to them that it was all fake and even after I showed them the sandbox where I got the “baby ashes,” still wouldn’t come back in the house for an hour.

My poor friends. And I wonder why I don’t have more of them.

Happy Halloween!

Fun Fact: Tanya and I are going on a candy bender on Sunday. I’m going to be very sick all day because of it. I’m going to be sick the next day. It’s going to make me feel miserable…and I can’t wait!

Oh, and the new TAM Cartoon is…well, obviously…up.


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