Thursday, December 13, 2018

Is That a Ghost I Smell?

There are such things as clairvoyance, the ability to see, and clairaudience, the ability to hear...ghosts. To put it another way, the ability to perceive the supernatural whether through sight or sound: two ways to connect with beings from another dimension. But I sometimes wonder, is there such a thing as clairolfactance? (I've just coined that non-word and am already wondering if the maker of Clairol hair products had the idea of their product being clear-smelling when they chose that name.) But back to the topic: I mean for the term clairolfactance to indicate the ability to smell the paranormal.

Sounds wonky, right?

But if you read enough about the paranormal, you know that some hauntings include smells as part of the experience. I'm currently reading a book about real-life hauntings and one location includes a centuries-old ship that now serves as a museum. In the galley, a place where no one has done any kind of cooking for literally hundreds of years, visitors are frequently greeted with the smell of freshly-baked bread. As paranormal experiences go, that doesn't sound too bad.

Then there are the haunted hotels where overnight guests will sometimes smell traces left by former, and now-deceased, fellow guests. These smells run the gamut from cigar and pipe smoke to fresh flowers, and all the way through women's perfume. 

But then there are the smells that no one ever wants to run into because they signal the presence of malevolence, malice, and possibly just plain evil. Those are smells like rotting meat, rotten eggs, sewage, and sulfur. Demonologists will talk about smelling something foul when they run into a negative or downright evil entity of some kind. 

In my brushes with the supernatural, I have never encountered a particular smell and I hope it stays that way. I don't even care if it's a benevolent smell like fresh bread or lilacs; I would rather not run into that particular type of haunting. And I can't even tell you why.

Maybe it's the fact that as far as hearing things goes, I've almost (ALMOST) gotten used to that. Yesterday while I was getting things done around the house, I couldn't believe how much I was hearing from the other rooms, or down the hall. There was so knocking, banging, shifting, rustling, and other hard-to-ignore sounds that I was amazed that I wasn't sitting at the keyboard writing a ghost scene with Cassie and Michael. Perhaps that was someone telling me to sit down at the keyboard and write a scene or two. Then again, maybe it's just because of the nature of our hallway. 

When it comes to seeing, the two phantoms I glimpsed during the summer of 2017 would have been enough for me, but there are other presences that pop up at the edge of my vision, from the lady out in the front yard going around the corner of the house, to the one who hangs around in my laundry room by the garage door (Why? I ask myself. I can't imagine hanging around someone's garage door, but then I haven't had occasion to haunt anyone so I can't guess at the logic behind that kind of behavior.) So, no, I"m not as acclimated to seeing these things as I am to hearing then. If you can get acclimated to that sort of thing.

But smelling something that shouldn't be there? Somehow that seems more "wrong" than visits that involve my sense of sight or hearing.

Anyone who's read Stephen King's The Shining will remember that Hallorann would smell oranges before he had one of his clairvoyant events. Maybe for some folks, clairolfactance is a real thing, their own particular hallmark and entryway to the generally inaccessible. But no thank you, I'd rather not experience that myself.

On the other hand, when it comes to the other senses? Tasting something paranormal? Can't even imagine what that would be about. The sense of touch, though --  I know people have been touched, stroked, even slapped or scratched. Hmm. Maybe smelling something unseen (as opposed to being touched by something unseen) isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Toys Are ScarierThan Almost Anything


‘Tis the season for toy shopping, so of course I thought, how do toys and ghosts connect? Fabulously, it turns out.

For one thing, there was once a haunted Toys R Us location. I don’t remember what city it was in, but I do remember that the haunting was a TV story at one point. Employees were uncomfortable in certain aisles, and the toys themselves would move when the store was closed and deserted, as shown on security camera footage. I think it’s probably tough to haunt a store during the madness that is Christmas shopping. After all, who could overcome the noise, the aggressiveness, and the extended hours? Even the living have trouble coping with that.

On the other hand, the toys that are in your house and hanging around your children’s play areas and bedrooms? Those are another thing altogether.

When my grandson was a really little guy, he received a Tickle Me Elmo for Christmas. I don’t know if they’re still around but if they’re not, it’s probably because they’re possessed. This thing used to laugh and giggle its little heart out at about one in the morning when it was sitting by itself in a mound of other toys. It’s not like my grandson had it in bed with him and accidentally jiggled it into activity. No, this thing was on its own, among other “inanimate” toys, and would party away in the dark hours. My daughter wound up shoving it into a bag and hiding it in the closet, and we’d still hear it chuckling and carrying on from within its dark and hidden confined. YIKES.

My other daughter, who sadly lost her best friend from childhood during the month of December, also experienced the undisturbed-but-talking-anyway toy. Her son had received an interactive device that said certain phrases and played little bits of song, and this too would sing and talk when no one else was around. She would hear it from the kitchen as a song started up, or it began to chatter. One afternoon, just on impulse, she called out her friend’s name and asked her to stop. The toy promptly answered, “I love you!” and went silent.

Longer ago, there was a toy called “Speak and Spell.” Anyone remember those? I recall a stand-up comic referring to it as “Spell and Speak With the Devil” because it would begin spelling random words during the night.

Some people say that these things are activated by a truck rumbling by in the distance, or by some kind of radio signal the toys mysteriously pick up, whether from a neighbor’s baby monitor or someone’s garage-door opener. I suppose that’s possible. But I can’t help feeling if that’s what’s going on, the activity should happen with a great deal more frequency, and not so often in the dead of night, “dead” being the operative word here.

And then there’s the dolls. I won’t even start on those except to say that I’ve been in stores that carry not only dolls, but clown dolls. I have to ask: Why???

Toys are meant to entertain and teach the young and the innocent among us, so it’s a bit ironic to me that at the same time, toys can be scary in their own right. On the other hand, when it comes to paranormal and unexplained things, kids can be far scarier than the toys…