2002-10-07 The Ghost

There is a floor lamp in my living room with a mind of its own. About once an evening it clicks off. The room is draped in blackness for a few minutes and then, just as suddenly, it snaps back on. I didn't think much of it really.

About two weeks ago I started noticing that when the lamp shuts itself off, the kitties get a little unnerved. My cats are very talkative, and when they speak to me they expect a response. I think the game for them is to get the last word. The game for me is to curse them in sweet sounding tones, just to see if they pick up on it. It goes something like this:

"Mew."

"Please don't trip me. My arms are full of yummy groceries."

"Meeeewwww."

"Oh, you evil little thing."

"Mew. Mew. Meeewww."

"I don't love you anymore and have decided to stop feeding you."

"MMMMMMEEEWWW."

"Stop complaining. You may still have as much water as you can drink from the toilet. Yes you can."

"Meeww. Mew."

"If you don't stop rug surfing, I will crush the life out of you with my bare hands."

"Mew."

Something like that. In any event I started referring to the lamp phenomenon as "our ghost" in these kitty conversations. It didn't seem to calm them much. In fact they don't usually calm down until the light snaps back on.

So this weekend, Tommy was over and we were cuddled up on the love seat watching a movie. The lamp snapped off startling us a bit.

"What just happened?" Tommy asked.

"That's just my ghost," I said out of the force of habit.

Now, I should tell you that I am a skeptic about such things. I don't believe in ghosts, life after death, psychic phenomena, crop circles, reincarnation, UFOs, astrology, and the like. But there are many intelligent, capable people that I greatly admire who put great stock in such things. Tom is one of those people. It frustrates him that I believe John Edward to be an enormous fraud, for example. We've come to the understanding that we will never agree on such matters.

Given our relative stands on the paranormal my bold assertion that my ghost turned the lights off came as something of a surprise to him. "What?" he asked. "Your what?"

"My ghost. Every night he turns the light off and then back on a few minutes later. He seems harmless, the ghost. Or maybe she seems harmless. You can't tell gender from turning the lights out. Both men and women do that with a roughly equal amount of skill."

"Well, do you talk to the ghost?" Tommy asked. "You're supposed to talk to them in polite tones. They'll respond if you do."

"Oh, for chrissakes. It's not really a ghost. It's probably a short in the lamp or a faulty outlet."

"Are you sure?" he asked.

"I'm sure."

Tommy sat up straight, looked at the lamp and said, "If it's not too much trouble, would you please turn the light back on?" A second after he finished his request, the light snapped on and we could see again. "Thank you very much," he said.

He turned and looked at me smugly. "Who's skeptical now?"

I must admit to being struck dumb. Mostly on account of feeling really creeped out. A shiver ran down my spine. "I don't want to talk about it," I said.

Posted at 12:04 p.m.

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