I was kind of torn between two different topics this week- networking or ghost stories. Since we’ve established , repeatedly, that I suck at networking (although I usually get on pretty well with the bartender, the caterers, and the cobwebs in the corner), I decided that is a post for another day. Ghosts it is!
Friends of this blog, ETDygdon, started a blog exploring some of the haunted sites around the Chicagoland area. There are no shortage of reportedly haunted locations, so I’m sure they’ll be busy all summer and then some. I don’t know if Chicago is unique that way or what, but you can’t throw a rock without hitting some place that is supposedly haunted. It got me to thinking about a couple of weird things that happened to me.
I blame Leonard Nimoy for my love of all things creepy. In the early 80’s he had this show called, “In Search Of…” and they would look into different mysteries. To be honest, I only remember the opening of the show and that Leonard Nimoy would wear turtlenecks and sports jackets. For some reason it scared the crap out of me (the opening, not that turtlenecks, but it may explain my aversion to turtlenecks). After that, it was Jack Palance scaring me on, “Ripley’s Believe It or Not…” and then it was Robert Stack on “Unsolved Mysteries.” But I’m not that hard to scare. One time I couldn’t sleep after a particularly scary episode of Fantasy Island. Stop looking at me like that! There was a talking skull. It was scary!
But I’ve always liked a good creepy and allegedly true story, but I think you need a good dose of skepticism. Otherwise you find yourself thinking everything is paranormal. “The ghost drank all my wine….again!” So here are a couple of weird things that happened to me that don’t really have an explanation. Nothing overly dramatic, just odd.
Growing up we had a little black and white tuxedo cat named Leroy. We’re all huge animal lovers in my family and it was very hard to say goodbye when he got sick and had to be put to sleep. At times we had goldfish, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and dogs (sometimes all at once), so it felt really empty to have no pets. After a few months, my parents got another cat, Pete. Pete is a big guy, but always walks around like he’s afraid of imposing, where as, if Leroy wanted petting he would bash his head into you repeatedly until you got the hint.
I used to work from 2-11 PM and when I would get home around 11:30, LeRoy would always come say hi by rubbing on my ankles until I would pet him and maybe give him a snack. After Pete joined the family, he would sometimes come out greet me, but most of the time he would sleep in my parents room. One night I came home at 11:30 and the house was dark except for the TV. I saw what I assumed was Pete running out of the dining room to come wrap himself around my ankles. I whispered, “Hi Petey!” But I never felt him at my ankles. So, I looked under the kitchen table expecting he had jumped up on to a chair. No cat. When I stood up, I saw Pete wandering out of my parents bedroom with very sleepy eyes looking like he had just woken up. If he was in the back of the house sleeping, who came running out of the dining room when I got home? A few months later, my dad’s friend was sitting on the couch and felt a very cold breeze only across his ankles. He mentioned it to my dad who said, “Oh, that’s just ghost Leroy.” His friend went pale.
Fast-forward a couple of years to now I’m married and my husband and I live in our crappy condo- where we still live. My mom had sent over this box of photos from when I was little (and being scared by Leonard Nimoy and Jack Palance). He and I were sitting on the bed and I was going through this box of pictures. I was sitting on the edge of the bed near the door. Some of these pictures are hilarious, like me in my Mork from Ork t-shirt (shut up, I’m old), so we were cracking up. All of a sudden this nasty ass smell wafted in the room (no, we did not have Taco Bell for dinner). You know when you haven’t done the laundry in a while and that odor the clothes at the bottom of the hamper get? It was sort of like that, but add in stale air, sickness, and a little mold. See? Nasty. It really didn’t even waft into the room. It didn’t grow or get stronger. It was just suddenly there.
For whatever reason I didn’t say anything to my husband. It was so weird, I thought I might be imaging it (I know, who imagines smells, right?), so I didn’t say anything. After about a minute, my husband says, “Oh my God! What the hell is that smell??? Do you smell that?? What is that?? Is that outside? Where is that coming from?” My husband is a bit of a Type A personality. But here’s where it gets crazy. When he started questioning if I smelled it, too, it was gone. Gone isn’t the right word either, because gone makes it sound like there was a process of leaving or it burned out like a camp fire. No. It was just not there any more. It was like someone flicked a switch to turn it on and then turned it off. It was such a strong odor that you would think it would leave a trace or at least linger a little, but it didn’t. It never happened again.
So there are my two weird stories. In case you’re interested in reliving my childhood terror and want to watch “In Search Of…” (or check out Leonard Nimoy in turtlenecks and sports jackets, you sicky) pretty much every episode is on You Tube. Have a great week!