Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ghosts Explained

Thanks to the fine researchers at, I had the joy of reading a list entitled “101 Signs That You’ve Encountered A Ghost.” Now, I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts the way the Cowardly Lion believes in ghosts in The Wizard of Oz. My beliefs are more along the lines of those of Granny Weatherwax, from Terry Pratchett’s novels, who knows spirits exist but not in the sad, sheet-draped, “woogy-woogy” way that this list implies.

But that’s beside the point. As I read this list, I became convinced it could easily be "101 Signs That You’ve Got Small Children in the House,” with only minor modification and explanation. So here goes. In no particular order. My additions to the ghostly list appear in bold.

1. You feel like you’re being watched from a ceiling corner of the room. Kids use stealth when they’re out of bed after hours, but are rarely wise enough to hide where parents can’t see them.

2. You see unexplained lights in houses when no one is home. Chances are some kid left the light on.

3. Your dog freaks out over something you can’t see, cowers and runs from the room, or refuses to enter the room. The kids have pulled her tail or ears once too many times today.

4. Your cat stares at a certain spot, his hair raises, he hisses and bolts from the room. See No. 3.

5. You see a transparent human form walking around. Substitute “naked” for “transparent,” and there you go.

6. You feel a weight on your bed, as if someone is sitting there but no one is. Come on. Someone is ALWAYS sitting there. Hiding under the blanket, giggling.

7. You hear someone shout your name. I don’t even need to explain this one.

8. You find physical evidence of footprints that can’t be explained. At least until one of the kids confesses to stepping on dog poop before they came in.

9. Electrical devices start operating by themselves. The boys have taken the TV remote controls to bed again.

10. A child’s toy starts moving on its own or if it’s electronic, starts making noise. The kid just dropped it like a hot rock because brother/sister have a more interesting toy.

11. You see a light colored mist form into any shape and the origin of the mist is unknown. At least until you catch the boys playing “Air Freshner” in the bathroom again.

12. You hear crying of an unknown origin. See No. 7.

13. You smell a fragrance in your home that you don’t own. It’s amazing how many fragrances I’ve smelled in homes I don’t own. Guess even ghost-chasers are occasionally snagged by the unclear antecedent.

14. A picture flying (not falling) off the wall and into the room. The kids are jumping on the bed in their room again.

15. You hear the sound of footsteps when no one is there. See No. 6.

16. You see someone who looks as real as you do but as you watch they disappear. Sometimes all it takes is one look from Daddy and the bedtime escapee disappears.

17. You’re physically touched by someone that isn’t there – your shirt or hair is tugged, someone brushes by or lays a hand on your shoulder. See No. 6.

18. More elevated – you’re slapped, pushed or shoved by something you can’t see. See No. 6.

19. A foul odor comes from nowhere and then disappears. And then reappears when your son walks by.

20. Furniture is rearranged – even heavy furniture. Dad got fed up searching for Legos.

21. Water is turned on or off by itself. The four-year-old – who wets the bed if he’s over-watered – is sneaking a “sip.”

22. You hear music from an unknown source. The kids got their tape player down from the high shelf again.

23. Lights turning on an off by themselves. Parents can turn off every light in the house and have them all on again 30 seconds later because the kids are afraid of the dark.

24. More elevated – you see the light switch move when no one is touching it. Kids are damn quick.

25. Unexplained writing appears on a wall, mirror or piece of paper. Kids found the Sharpies again.

26. Objects are missing from a locked box or safe and show up later outside of the secured place. No place is too secure for the four-year-old, who can pick any lock with his fingernails.

27. Your doorbell rings but no one is there. But the bushes next to the house are giggling.

28. You hear doors or cabinets opening and closing by themselves. Someone’s sneaking something.

29. You SEE a door or cabinet open or close when no one is near it. See No. 24.

30. More elevated – doors or cabinets slamming shut with extreme force. The older two don’t want the four-year-old to play with them any more.

31. A child tells you they see someone that you can’t. (Children and animals are very sensitive to the paranormal) Come to my house and I’ll introduce you to Zarahemna, the imaginary warrior.

32. Faces appearing within inanimate objects and then disappear. Yup. Like doorways, mirrors, shiny dishes. Soon as you turn around, you’re back to No. 8.

33. You feel a cold spot when there isn’t a reason for it to be cold in that area. Someone dropped a cup of water.

34. You find handprints of unexplained origin. Variant of No. 8.

35. You hear hushed whispers but can’t find the source of the sound. As soon as you enter the room, the kids play possum.

36. Items disappear and then reappear in an unexpected place. See No. 26.

37. You see a shadow of someone in your peripheral vision. They’re sneaking out of bed again.

38. You look into a mirror and see someone else reflected there but when you look into the room where they should be standing no one is there. See No. 37.

39. You see balls of unexplained light. The four-year-old just ran up to you and punched you in the groin. Again.

40. You get a sudden sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and Goosebumps on your arms or a prickly feeling on the back of your neck all at the same time. Damn. It’s time for the nature hike field trip. Up the mountainside. With two third-grade classes. And it’s hot.

41. You get sudden cold chills accompanied by a sense of fear. See No. 40.

42. You feel uneasy in certain areas of your home like the basement or attic. Because it’s cluttered with toys, and you swear you just cleaned it five minutes ago . . . (and are these ghost-writers stealing lines from Ghostbusters now? I'm ready to believe them).

43. You feel a sudden warm or hot spot in your home. Somebody didn’t make it to the bathroom on time. Again.

44. You feel a breeze inside the house when the windows are closed. The four-year-old’s out the front door again, staring at the moon.

45. A spirit orb appears in a photo you’ve taken. Turns out it was a picture the kid took of his sister, shining the flashlight at the camera.

46. A musical instrument plays by itself (piano etc.) I was once accompanied on a walk to the post office by two flutes, tooting exceptionally loudly. I certainly didn’t recognize the kids playing them.

47. A sudden feeling of nausea in a particular room when you’re not sick. You’ve just stumbled on the soiled underwear stash under the eight-year-old’s bed.

48. You have thoughts that don’t fit your personality when in a particular area. In the driveway, getting out of the truck, just coming home from work, hearing a lot of shouting inside. You ponder getting back in the truck and driving until the gas runs out.

49. Laughter without a source. The eight-year-old is reading Foxtrot while hiding in the bunkbed cubbyhole. Again.

50. You hear sounds of pain, like moaning, but there isn’t anyone there. No one wants to fess up about how the six-year-old “fell” down the stairs. Not even the six-year-old.

51. You hear sounds or smell a certain fragrance or odor at the same time every day. See No. 47.

52. You see unusual things reflected in glass objects. The kids found their supply of hillbilly teeth.

53. You record voices of people who weren’t present on a tape or digital recording device. You’ve not yet mastered how to say “Sit down and shut up” in a nurturing manner.

54. You answer your phone and the voice of someone you know that has died speaks to you. The eight-year-old has picked up the phone extension, claiming to be George Washington. Again.

55. Small, flashing lights zigzag around the room. The kids found their supply of tiny flashlights.

56. The television set goes berserk for no apparent reason. See No. 9.

57. Light bulbs blow out on a regular basis. See No. 14.

58. The phone rings with a different ringtone that it’s not programmed for. The eight-year-old has learned to program the phone. And is teaching the others.

59. Abrupt mood swings or changes in a person’s character only in specific areas or in places thought to be haunted. See No. 48.

60. You feel frozen to the spot for a short amount of time. See No. 48.

61. Visitors to your home often complain that they feel uncomfortable, couldn’t sleep well or heard and saw things they couldn’t explain. See the entire list, but particularly No. 47.

62. People in your family are consistently having nightmares. Because they’re constantly bringing home books about sharks, octopuses, dinosaurs, UFOs and volcanoes from the school library.

63. You hear tapping on the walls. When you checked on the “sleeping” kids five minutes ago, they were playing possum.

64. You’ve seen what appear to be red eyes in the darkness. See No. 62. It’s your spouse, responding to repeated nightmares.

65. You’ve awakened to see misty people standing around your bed. The four-year-old had too many “sips” before going to bed the night before.

66. There’s blood running down the walls. See No. 50.

67. Unexplained whistling. The six-year-old finally learned to whistle, and boy is she proud.

68. You have visions of how someone died as you’re falling asleep. See No. 54.

69. If you have a rocking chair, it rocks by itself. The kids are throwing pillows at it again.

70. An entity tries to harm you by holding a pillow over your face. Or a dolly. Or a stuffed animal. Because naptime for Mommy or Daddy is officially over.

71. You hear pages of books or newspapers turning. See No. 63.

72. You’re filming a family event and an apparition appears in the footage. Any random child has decided to entertain the family by emerging from their bedroom with all their spare underwear worn on their head.

73. A ghostly voice threatens you. See No. 54.

74. You feel someone breathing on your shoulder or neck. If any parent has NOT experienced this, I want to trade their children for ours.

75. You wake up to find odd marks or scratches on your body that wasn’t there when you went to sleep. See No. 13, but substitute “body that wasn’t there when you went to sleep” for “homes I don’t own.” Alternate explanation: Kids slept with Mommy and Daddy after experiencing No. 62.

76. Black marks suddenly appear on the walls of your home. Another variant of No. 8.

77. You’re alone in the house, and you hear a door slam in another part of the house. School’s out.

78. You hear scratching sounds from behind the walls. See No. 25.

79. A candle is suddenly blown out when no one is near it. “Who dares leave a lit candle unattended with kids in the house!”

80. You’re driving down the road, see someone walking on the side but when you look back at them in your rearview mirror, no one is there. Because you can’t see through the blankets, balloons, toys, books and grocery bags stuffed in the back of the car.

81. You’ve seen objects levitating in the air. Lego fight.

82. You’ve been levitated into the air. You sat on or stepped on some of the Legos from the Lego fight.

83. You’ve woken up because your bed is violently shaking. It’s 6:30 am Saturday and the kids are anxious to start the day.

84. Papers are jerked out of your hands when no one is near you. When they want something, kids have very long arms.

85. A glowing cloud hovers in the room. See No. 11.

86. The air in certain areas of your house may feel heavy or stagnant even though you try to freshen it up. Underwear stash odors linger.

87. You become sick with an illness that the doctor can’t diagnosis or treat. Combination of Nos. 86 and 48.

88. You lock a door or window only to find it unlocked or vice versa. See Nos. 26 and 44.

89. You see apparitions while touring a battleground or graveyard. Quite possible a variant of No. 72.

90. You’re shopping and turn to look at a person nearby you and discover they don’t have a face. You blink, look again and they’re gone or they disappear right in front of you. When shopping with Mommy or Daddy, kids sometimes achieve speeds faster than that of light.

91. A woman or man walks up to you in a public place, gives you what seems like a message and then disappears. Possibly reporting a No. 72 in progress, or some other child- or parenting-borne indiscretion they’d like you to remedy.

92. You look up at a house from street level and see someone standing in a doorway or window when you know that no one is home or the home is empty or abandoned. The kid didn’t want to get caught sneaking home from school again, so he/she has gone deep.

93. You see a single light and hear a train coming down the tracks when the tracks are no longer in use and the train never really goes by. The children were so bitter the last time you spotted a train and didn’t tell them until the train was already passing that now you see trains everywhere.

94. You hear someone breathing in an empty room. The rooms are NEVER empty! NEVER!

95. The radio in your car turns on or off by itself. The transmission’s going out. Okay, so this is the ONLY one I could not link to having children. So could be a poltergeist. But I’ve also seen the transmission angle.

96. You hear screams or ghostly activity at specific times every day – usually at night. See No. 37.

97. A “lady in white” is seen walking down your hall or steps. The six-year-old drank too much and is making multiple trips to the bathroom in her nightgown.

98. You see a dark colored mist that forms inside and takes the shape of a person. The mud fight was a smashing success.

99. The batteries in your flashlights, cameras, phones etc drain very quickly when in areas that are thought to be haunted. The kids got to them before you did.

100. You wake and feel a pressure on your chest that doesn’t have a medical reason. Except for the toddler sitting on your chest, counting the chest hairs poking out of your shirt.

101. You sit down in a chair and it feels like you just sat in someone’s lap – but the chair is empty. “That’s MY chair, Daddy!”

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