Some people dive headfirst into Halloween, humping their furniture at the first glimpse of a pumpkin.
Maybe it’s the darkness and dreariness of COVID-19 this year, but it seems to me that the Halloween-people are multiplying.
On a recent pedestrian drive to the supermarket, it became apparent—to me, at least—that the number of houses sporting inflatable Halloween lawn decorations has grown exponentially in the Manchester-region.
I am, however, a little more subdued when it comes to my celebrations of the dead.
Sure, I’ll carve a pumpkin for the man-cave in my basement and watch the occasional horror flick in the dark. Hell, I enjoy a campy horror flick as much as the next red-blooded introvert.
But I’m also a man conflicted by contradictions.
For example, while the gore in slasher films, a severed limb or a throat sliced ear-to-ear, doesn’t bother me—in fact, I have a deep appreciation for those kinds of special effects—I’ve also passed out having blood drawn.
And while I’m acutely aware that the monsters and paranormal presences in these films are manifestations of dark and sometimes hyperactive imaginations (I write fiction myself), these stories still unsettle me.
But there’s only one horror movie that chills me to my Catholic-core and sends me upstairs for a series of nightmares where my wife needs to hold me as I weep with terror.
I’m talking, of course, about “The Exorcist.”
This movie scares the ever-loving crap out of me for a number of reasons. The first, aforementioned, is the fact that I was raised Catholic. While I logically know that demonic possession is impossible, another irrational part of me still believes it’s completely plausible.
In fact, if I never saw “The Exorcist,” it’s entirely possible I could be living as a man of the cloth, the priest my mother always knew I could be.
Still, it’s the plausibility of “The Exorcist”—the one thing that chased me from the clergy, aside from my interest in having sex and an utter lack of willpower—that stems from the fact that Regan MacNeil, the young girl possessed by Satan in the movie and the William Peter Blatty novel, is reckless and careless enough to play with an Ouija board by herself.
No one should ever mess with an Ouija board. Especially alone.
I don’t have a lot of rules in my house. Ask my kids. I like to believe that common sense—as a rule itself—will govern most people, although I live with two adolescents hell-bent on proving me wrong.
But the one rule I enforce: No Ouija boards in my house.
The reason is as logical as wearing a mask in public. The damn things are clearly portals to demonic possession. If you want to summon evil spirits into your own abode, fine. Have at it. But keep the devil-board out of my house.
So how do I know that Ouija boards invite evil spirits and inhabit human bodies, making our heads spin 360 degrees while projectile vomiting?
When I was in junior high, a group of girls were playing with an Ouija board at a party while I was pounding Capri Suns in the corner of a basement with my friends, each of us scratching our heads and wondering how to talk to the girls. But after that evening, I had seen enough of Ouija boards (the girls later kept me from being a priest). I wanted to believe said junior high girls were pushing the planchette, but once the lights cut in the room and the radio flicked on playing “Def Leppard’s “Love Bites,” I left, walked down the road and waited for my mom to pick me up.
No bueno. Get lost, demonic game-board.
Backing into Halloween 2020 (hasn’t it already been gruesome enough), I would rather erect a 60-foot inflatable lawn ghoul than allow an Ouija board through my front door. While hangovers suck, they pale in comparison to demonic possession.
And with Halloween landing on a Saturday this year, I’m hoping I will only have to contend with one of those scenarios.
Will Nate pig out on pizza and drink his body weight in Bud Light while being a Richard-head and playing “The Monster Mash” twelve times in a row on TouchTunes at the bar? “Yes” or “no”?
Now you’re pushing the planchette.