Jessie Raymond: Case of missing slippers haunting
A few days ago, my slippers disappeared.
I checked everywhere, even in the closet where they belonged (otherwise known as “the last place I’d ever put them”).
I looked in every room. I looked under the couches and under the beds. Twice. I checked the fridge, because you just never know. I tiptoed through the house, peeking around corners, in hopes of catching the slippers off guard.
In the end, I gave up and went to bed, wondering how it was possible for material objects to disappear into thin air. Were there supernatural forces at work here?
Normally, I’m a skeptic. But recently I’ve been doing some research on ghosts for a writing project, and all of a sudden I’m finding myself entertaining the possibility of paranormal activity. Everyone else seems to.
It hasn’t been easy being one of the few skeptics I know. My disbelief gives way to plenty of awkward conversations, such as this one:
Friend and Otherwise Rational Person: “Last night the bathroom light came on all by itself.”
Me: “Scary. Did you call an electrician?”
FORP: “No, I’m pretty sure it’s not the wiring. Our house must be haunted.”
Me: “Ha, ha! Yeah, right!”
FORP: (Cold stare.)
Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. You’re being serious.”
Then, eyes widening, the FORP will say that many years ago, someone died in their house. Death, bathroom light, ghost. Isn’t it obvious?
Au contraire, I tell them. Vermont is full of old houses, I say, and until fairly recently, most people were born and died at home. Also, I tell them, old houses often have outdated wiring that goes on the blink.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m such a paranormal buzz kill or because I use phrases like “au contraire,” but no one wants to hang out with me anymore.
Nobody wants to accept that buildings creak, breezes cause doors to swing, and people are prone to hallucinate when they’re half asleep; they’d rather blame everything on ghosts. I get it: Rational explanations are boring. Would you go see a horror movie about a person whose house makes banging noises because of air in the radiator pipes?
And it’s not just impressionable people who jump to paranormal conclusions. Even those who claim to be skeptics like me have at least one ghost story they can’t wait to share.
Sure, they laugh with me about other people’s reported experiences. For a second. Then, leaning in, they whisper, “But seriously: This thing really happened to me … ”
They go on to tell me how an invisible hand once touched their shoulder, or their house filled with the scent of cigar smoke (and their dead great-uncle used to smoke cigars!), or they heard footsteps in the attic or children’s voices in the closet.
My first instinct is to explain it all away. But maybe that’s because nothing even remotely paranormal has ever happened to me.
Or has it?
All this research is starting to make me think that there are mysterious things going on all around me; I just haven’t opened my mind enough to notice.
I went to bed that slipperless night with questions. Could we have a ghost? Was it possible that a restless spirit had taken my slippers? Why wouldn’t a restless spirit opt for a snazzier stunt, like levitating the kitchen table?
The next morning, bolstered by a good night’s sleep and a renewed sense of hope, I peeked under the bed for the third time in 12 hours.
And there were my slippers.
Maybe we did have a ghost. And maybe the entity that was responsible for both stealing my slippers and returning them to the very spot I had checked twice before — spooky! — had also been causing the cold spots and whistling noises we get throughout the house. Maybe it was a ghost that, several times a day, kept moving my phone and my reading glasses every time I set them down.
Of course, my rational brain knows what’s really going on: Our house needs thousands of dollars in energy-efficiency upgrades, and my memory is growing spottier by the day.
Too bad I’m a skeptic. I’d much rather go with the ghost thing.
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