THE CASE FOR GHOSTS: Why I Believe and Why I Wish I Didn't
I've seen Ghostbusters about one million times. Maybe a touch under. I wasn't a Slimer kid and I never signed off on Sigourney being the proper choice for the bombshell. With that hair? With those awful, shimmery peach curtains she tries to pass off as a dress? One look in those manic eyes and you can tell she'd much, much rather be lighting a flamethrower in space. Yuck. Give me Annie Potts or give me death!
But I digress. I did it all for The Murray. My hat is off to the new 'Busters, of course. I wish them well, love their style, please don't invite The Sigourney - but you can't replicate that hungry, Second City energy that those originals brought to NYC. You can't replicate the contagious fervor that was the original Ghostbuster's theme song, either. You can not and should not. Please.
Has anyone ever tempted fate so foolishly as Ray Parker, Jr.? Doesn't he know anything about anything? It's one thing to pretend you, "ain't afraid a no ghosts." I've told myself the very same thing when I've wandered into old, iffy houses. It's a bluff and a necessity. The part where Parker, Jr. openly claims that, "bustin [made him] feel good," though? That was downright suicidal. Was he insane? Where were his advisors? Has anyone checked to see if he's still alive?
You don't mess with phantoms and specters and wraiths and what-have-yous, Ray. I don't. Not ever. Because I'm not an audacious musician and I'm not Rick Moranis, his retirement be damned. You spit in the face of a spirit, Ray, you're asking to get iced. Because they're super cold. That's a known thing. Ghosts are also intangible, so you can't mess with them physically. Ghosts are also scatter-brained like you would not believe, so you can't prepare for them, either. Sometimes they just kind of lurk and hang out and mope, sometimes they're getting weird with scream and scare-a-thons, sometimes they just tease your pets and babies. They're incorrigible and invincible, and never has there ever been a worse pairing of traits in the history of the known universe. I'm not even speculating on this stuff - this is stone cold fact. Sure, ghost movies have gotten into my head and my dreams, but it's my friends - trusted, honest and completely sane friends - that have poisoned my waking life. Facts are facts, and ghosts are real. You want proof? I'll put it in the pudding.
First, you take one part Jeremy Meyers. I've known him for about fifteen years. He's a real straight shooter, sings like an angel and his bones are made out of glass. Well, almost. He's very fragile. Like a bird. Anyway, he always makes me laugh and he loves to learn how to do everything ever - but only passably so - and animals pretty much always make him cry. The bottom line is, he's one of my best friends and I trust him implicitly. We've talked about everything under the sun. Including ghosts. The only reason it came up was because I insist upon talking to my friends like we're always on first dates. I ask them hypotheticals, force them to commit to ranked lists of their favorite things and I almost always want to know their stance on ghosts. Unsolved Mysteries, by the way, was the villain that put the paranormal in my head to begin with (and I will slap my mother in the face if it means I never have to hear that theme song again). Anyway - Jeremy has had 'experiences,' and he doesn't like to talk about them. So I will.
Jeremy was a horrible student in high school. I didn't know him at the time, so it was impossible for him to be inspired by my own scholastic dominance. One of Jeremy's punishments for his poor grades was to assist with his dad's janitorial company. At the time, the company had just begun cleaning up a church.
...Tell me you don't feel dread already.
Now this church kept odd hours, so Jeremy and his dad were forced to clean it late at night. Like ten or eleven. On the first night, Jeremy had a strange vibe. He was cleaning a room by himself when he felt a presence. He turned around and, to his relief, it was only his dad. Only his dad didn't look so good. "Were you just in the other room with me?" Jeremy shook his head, and his dad explained that he'd just seen Jeremy standing behind him. When Jeremy didn't say anything, his dad says, "I get a weird feeling about these people," and gets back to work. That's when he feels ghost-Jeremy put his hand on his shoulder, squeezing hard enough to bring Jeremy's father to his knees.
On a different night, Jeremy was working alone at the church - and probably saying, "I ain't afraid a no ghosts" over and over in his head - when things took a turn for the awful. The double doors at the front of the church opened up to a larger main room before shrinking back down to a narrow hallway. The narrow hallway fed into a lot of smaller side rooms before it ran right into the double doors at the back of the church. The layout, if I may lay out a lazy visual, was like an olive pierced with a toothpick. On this particular night, Jeremy was near the back doors, cleaning out the bathrooms. One side of the hallway for women, the other side for men. He was cleaning out the women's restroom when he suddenly hears a toilet flush in the men's restroom. When he goes over there to check it out, he watches the water in one of the bowls fill up to the line and stop - only he still hears running water. Confused, Jeremy goes back to the women's restroom where all three sinks are blasting hot water. He takes a deep breath, tries to relax. When he shuts the water off-
The double doors at the front of the church start rattling. Jeremy steps into the hall, waiting for someone he knows to make an appearance. The doors are not locked - he had draped the unlocked chain through the handles - but whatever's shaking it doesn't shake hard enough to open them. Jeremy doesn't know what to do - personally, I would have screamed a Rogue-like shock of white hair into my head - so he just stands there in the hallway at the back of the church, wishing and praying that the noise at the front of the church would stop. Out of nowhere, it finally does. You know why? Because the back door, the one Jeremy's standing a foot away from, suddenly starts shaking instead. What's worse, Jeremy can see out the window and there's definitely no one there. It stopped - eventually - and the second it did, Jeremy ran out of there. His father cancelled the account the next day. This is one of many stories Jeremy has shared with me.
I've found that to be a common thing - people who have these kinds of experiences (aka 'curses') tend to have them on multiple occasions. I have another friend, Jeff, who I've also known for about fifteen years. Jeff is definitely tuned into "stuff." He's a real hunk, a great singer - the only kinds of friends I allow myself - and he's also the kind of guy that will stick his finger an inch from your face if you piss him off. A few years ago, Jeff's grandmother wasn't doing so hot. Jeff was living in NY at the time, his grandmother was in California. He was sitting in his apartment around two in the morning when he felt this thing coming up the stairs outside. There might have been a noise, too. Whatever it was, he felt it come through his door and up around the back of his couch. He literally shouted out loud, "I'm not ready!" and the thing, whatever it was, disappeared. The next morning he got a call from his mother, letting Jeff know that his grandmother had passed away the night before, right around 11PM. Do the math. That's 2AM New York time.
Really, the only way to make this medicine go down is to give you some of my own ghostly sugar. A few years back, I was filming a movie with some friends from elementary school. It was about a bunch of old friends in the woods that get attacked by a bigfoot. The awards, as you can imagine, are still pouring in. Anyway - we shot it in Northern California and, due to the fact that hunting season snuck up on us and we were running around in a giant bigfoot costume, we had to move our production to Tahoe. As luck would have it, a friend was housesitting at a cabin and offered it up as a place for all of us to stay.
The cabin, as we soon discovered, was of the serial killer variety. Built of dark, splintered and water-stained wood. Thin, rickety doors, minimal lighting. Oh, and a whole lot of warnings. When we were given the tour of the upstairs bedrooms, our friend told us he didn't like to go up there. Just because. He showed us a room with a ceiling that came down at a forty-five degree angle - you had to duck to walk along one side - and said that the owner himself never went in that room. The final room he showed us, the one I stayed in, had an old dresser with a large, rotating mirror. The mirror was spun around so that it faced the wall, rendering it useless. We were told that it was best to keep it that way. Owner's orders. For some strange reason, that room was also prone to wild, woodland animals shitting in it.
Two things happened in this fantasy suite while we stayed there. The first occurred while the room was occupied by the two brothers who wrote and directed the movie. They were going over some notes late at night and had latched the door closed with a little hook. It's important to note that it was latched tightly - the hook barely fit in the little eye - because, while they were working, the latch came free and the door swung open. Maybe that's just baby ghostliness, but it still happened. The second thing occurred when I was by myself. We were all heading out for the day when I suddenly realized I'd left my script in the house. Upstairs. In the poo-poo room. I didn't think twice, just ran inside and went upstairs. When I got to the room, however, I felt this terrible... This is so clichéd... Presence? There was a tangible pressure in the air, the feeling of being watched. As I grabbed my script, I felt a cold sweat rush over me and I ran for the stairs. On the way down, it felt as though something was right behind me. To the point that if I stopped, I felt like I would be swallowed up entirely. I still get the chills when I think about it. So there's that.
What do you say, Beliebers? Come on in, the water's warm. I trust my friends and I buy into their stories - and I certainly buy into mine. I don't want to, but I do. The complications these things add to conversations about spirituality and faith are a mountain unto themselves. If there's a ghost reading this, do not mention it to me. Also, please understand that bustin' does not make me feel good. You go your way, I go mine. Do it up and boo it up, just don't do it here. Seriously. This is a warning. I did it all for The Murray, but I won't hesitate to call The Wiig.