Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Can't You Just Meet Me in the Living Room?

A chill blows across the back of your neck. The hair on your scalp stands up. Goose bumps rise of their own accord down your arms as you glance uneasily over your shoulder. Anyone who has ever felt a PRESENCE crowding into a room that is cool, dark, and previously empty is familiar with this creepy, crawly sensation. And here's how it can only get worse.

What is the one room where we value our privacy more than any other? Easy question, right? The bathroom. No one wants to feel invaded while brushing teeth, standing under a glorious spray of hot water, or toweling a wet head of hair. Bathroom time is alone time when we are under no other scrutiny but our own. Being joined by something otherworldly during toiletry time goes beyond unnerving.

Does anyone besides me have that occasional reluctance to look in the mirror after rinsing off your face and toweling dry? I have a certain instinctual fear that one night, I will look into the mirror and see not only my own face, but the face of someone else. Someone standing just behind me. Someone who won't actually be there when I whirl around.

Does anyone besides me have that slight moment of hesitation before turning the bathroom doorknob and stepping into the hall, utterly clueless about who –or what– might be lurking on the other side of the door, waiting silently for me to come face to dead face?

Hauntings in bathrooms have been featured in scary stories, from the nasty scene in the old movie "The Legend of Hell House" to the particularly disturbing bathtub ghoul in the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining.

Even ghost tours include haunted bathrooms. The Chicago area boasts more than one pub with a problem bathroom. Or if historic sites are more your cup of tea, I dare you (triple dog dare you!) to check out the Ladies Room in the Visitors' Center at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Bathroom hauntings are particularly disturbing because of the element of vulnerability. Completely undressed and dripping wet are not how most of us would choose to confront something truly scary.

Perhaps I come by my bathroom anxiety honestly. The bathroom in my childhood home was so disturbed that one of my best gal pals never spent the night at my house again after one attempt at it. "It was like someone was following me around the whole time," she complained. "Especially in the bathroom."

I guess if I could ask one question of those denizens on the other side of the veil, it might be "Couldn't you haunt me anywhere else than the bathroom? A little privacy, please."

So hey, happy showering tonight! And if you don't believe in ghosts, well, Alfred Hitchcock has you covered in the movie "Psycho."

1 comment:

  1. My daughter swore there was a ghost in the bathroom in her dorm at Dominican University. She said NOBODY took late night showers there because strange things happened in the bathroom at night. Luisa Buehler went to the same school back when it was called Rosary College. She confirms there was a ghost lurking in the dorms even back then.