October 26, 2011

Hip to be scared

Recounting a visit from Hipster the Trendy Ghost

Slumber party. Mid ’80s. An ill-timed viewing of “The Exorcist” at an age when “JEM and the Holograms” still felt too mature. This turned me off to ghosts, as well as horror movies, for the rest of my life. I fear the acknowledgement of ghosts will lead to demonic possession. Head spins are cool in break-dancing. Holy water should not be involved. To this day, when I wake up and an arm is numb due to some odd position I’ve contorted my body into, my initial worries are heart attack or that the possession has commenced.

 

Home alone. Mid 2000s. Around midnight. Imagine my panic when I hear footsteps in the hallway. These aren’t just any footsteps. My husband, Casey, tends to walk with untied shoelaces. Slap, slap, slap. Four phantom noodles hit the blonde, faux wood of our hallway. I freeze. My witness, our golden retriever, also senses someone, nay something, in our home. He cocks his head up. His ears shoot forward. Then, silence.

“Casey?” I call, ever so meekly. No reply.

I lie back down. My eyes go all anime-wide and innocent. I curse my imagination and shoot a few “Hail Marys” to the heavens.

A few minutes later, after I’ve calmed myself down, I’m drawn to look at the doorway of our bedroom, out of curiosity, I suppose.

That’s when I see him.

Remember the 7up dot? With sunglasses? That’s what his face looks like. His body flickers as if projected from a black and white movie reel. A trucker hat apathetically sits on his head. One leg is crossed over the other and he’s leaning on the doorframe.

The next few minutes are a blur. Perhaps I close my eyes. Maybe I pull the covers over my head. But I do take note of his stocky frame in skinny jeans and a half-zipped windbreaker. It’s a look that usually haunts dive bars and coffee shops, stuffing hands into tight pockets seeking spare change and crumpled dollars for a coffee refill or a PBR.

“Is this ghost a hipster?” I wonder.

He says nothing but gestures for me to follow him. Repeatedly his arm waves me over, like a retreating tide. Paralysis has set in. I try to shake my head no. Every muscle is calcified. I can’t budge, not that I would’ve gotten up anyway. He disappears.

Now that this interlude with the hereafter is behind me, I like to ponder, where would he have taken me? An Animal Collective show? Williamsburg? Was Ira Glass in town?

Our hipster ghost hung around a bit. But his haunting was (not surprisingly) rather noncommittal. Perhaps he felt constricted in this role. I vaguely remember spotting him in our hallway one other night. Our dog would occasionally sit and stare at empty corners where I can only assume our ghost was chain smoking, scribbling in pocket-sized notebooks.

We asked neighbors if anyone had died in our house.

“Maybe of an overdose?” we surmised.

We’d hear thunderous, inexplicable crashes as if the house was falling. A few times, the radio or television would turn on, unprompted. We also endured a spat of giant red wasps in our house. I’m not sure the ghost was responsible, but it was creepy.

That was about it. We can only figure that once he realized the instruments in our house were rarely played, he moved on to a much cooler roommate duo down the street that worked at a record store and boasted an endless supply of weed.

The happy ending to this Halloween tale is that I believe in my hipster ghost. And I’m levitation free.