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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board

We were not allowed to play with Ouija boards as children.

It was never my idea anyway. I was a wary, superstitious child, worried not only about whatever lived under my bed but how, if necessary, I would get rid of the vampires, werewolves, demons, or various other creature-feature types that may attempt to come through a window while our parents were gone.

The werewolves I thought I could handle – surely there was a gun somewhere in this trailer court? – and a vampire could be avoided entirely with garlic, something we always had plenty of; but I was always particularly concerned about demonic possession. My younger brother and sister – especially my brother! – looked like prime candidates for that sort of thing to me, and I kept a close eye on both of them every time my parents went out.

The odds of finding a priest in some of these trailer parks were pretty slim, after all; and have you met my brother?

He once tied me to a tree and left me there.

Everywhere we lived it seemed someone was staring into a mirror in the dark. “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody –“ Of course you’d have to be crazy to finish that, wouldn’t you? I don’t even recall the point of the whole thing. Why were we saying that?

All I remember is that those two words, repeated three times in a row, were enough to send pre-pubescent girls all over rural Minnesota screaming hysterically toward a light switch.

“But Mom, why can’t we play with a Ouija board?”

“Because a friend of mine had a friend who used it once, and the board told him that he would be killed by Time; and of course he laughed. But sure enough, one day he was out walking and a large clock fell off a building and killed him!”

Had she been smiling when she said that, my mother? Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if she was pulling my leg. All I know is that I’ve never looked at a picture of Big Ben without imagining someone crushed under it, their last thought being “well, I’ll be danged. That lousy board was right…”

I tried to explain this to a nephew once, the delicious-ness of fear, the dark room, a friend lying on a table, everyone gathered around with their fingertips under her body, chanting “light as a feather, stiff as a board” over and over until – oh, for cryin’ out loud! – the body began to rise, not seeming to weigh a thing...

“Why would you want to do that?”

“What? Why? Well because, see, there were only four TV stations and you had to go to the theater to see a movie…”

“So you turned out the lights and tried to scare yourselves?”

Hmm. Well, yes. Something like that.

We were just playing around.




And I’m still not allowed to use a Ouija board.

35 comments:

Willoughby said...

We played with the Ouija board at a sleepover when I was about 14. After we put it away, one of the girls swore she heard knocking coming from inside the box. We had to set it outside of the room we were sleeping in because everyone was so freaked out!

Shieldmaiden96 said...

I'm almost certain that sleepovers aren't as good as they used to be. Think about how much time was spent swapping urban legends and ghost stories. Now any 14 year old just has to hit snopes.com on their iPhone and say, 'Nah, it isn't true.'

Ignorance was more fun.

Pearl said...

Ha! That made me just think about the Man with The Hook!!!

You can tell people of a certain age by their urban legends. With the way the phones have changed, it's simply hard to imagine the horror of "the calls are coming from the upstairs!" or the solitude of NOT having a phone in a pocket or purse...

Jodie Kash said...

I was scared by the grainy documentary films played on the big screen at the small town theater with footage of Big Foot, nee: the Sasquatch. Standing on the sidewalk after waiting for Dad’s car to pick us up, just knew The Foot was coming to get me.

And I bet he smelled real bad.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

I agree with Shieldmaiden! Just telling stories makes it so much scarier coz you're leaving the gory details to the imagination of the listener and my imagination has so far beaten the worst horror movies!!

LucyCooper said...

My Grandma Patsi used a Ouija board to bet on horse races. One of my fondest memories of her. But it did freak me a little. She told me once that the board said I was a pretty little girl and I fled the room.

Jayne Martin said...

Those things creep me out. But then, the living scare the crap out of me, too.

Simply Suthern said...

Being raised in the Bible belt I never had the desire to play with the Ouija board and to be honest it kinda scared me. But then again Sock Monkeys scared me. We had a story that a slave was killed while building the bridge below the house and now his ghost would jump on your running board for a ride to town. Took me a while to realize we didnt have running boards anymore so I never met him. We always had the dude with the hook story. That one still works.

MJenks said...

I wasn't allowed to use a Ouija board, either.

But then, I also had daily lectures on the importance of believing in Jesus and accepting him as my Lord and Savior, just in case the Rapture occurred that evening.

Kelly said...

I have never understood how a mass-produced piece of particle board could "open the portals of hell."

mapstew said...

4 channels? How posh were you? We had one, yes one! And we didn't need movies to scare the bejazus out of us, the priest and nuns looked after that! :¬)

xxx

KaLynn said...

The Ouija board scared me too! And the hook man, the one about the arm hanging from a tree, the glowing grave. There are times when I am driving home and the trees cover the road I think of the one about some guy jumping in front of the car. I dont remember any more than a big guy getting run over on a dark moonless night and his ghost comes back or some such..

Ms Sparrow said...

Gee, I was always disappointed because the Ouija board didn't work. I wonder why so many adults were afraid of it?

Tgoette said...

I was denied access to the Ouija board when I was a child so I was determined that my kids wouldn't suffer the same fate. As it turned out, the only messages it ever spelled out for us was "Clean Your Room" and "Mow The Lawn." Spooky!

Mandy's Kidding said...

I remember all of these. Light as a feather, stiff as a board. Bloody mary. Ouija. The man with the hook. It's good to be GenX.

Madame DeFarge said...

Never allowed to even mentioned them, such was their power to scare. Wouldn't touch one now, even though highly rationale individual. And big scaredy cat.

Rabbit said...

I know it's silly - but this post brought back so many memories that I now have the heebie-jeebies - IN BROAD DAYLIGHT! Someone just walked past the window and I jumped so hard I 'bout done fell out of my chair!

I don't know which is stronger - my imagination - or my belief in all silly things like this. But I am scared of mirrors to this day - and Ouija boards??? Forget it!

Secretia said...

I've seen them and heard about them, my mother of mortally afraid of the, do you think they are an instrument of the devil?

Pearl said...

I think we are a superstitious lot, we humans. :-) And I also think that the brain is one enormous place... What scares one person titilates another. Me, I am more concerned with the "devils" on the planet than I am with what I cannot see.

Not The Rockefellers said...

We had a Ouija board, but we lost that golden pin thingy..so we used a thumb tack.
All we ended up getting were second rate demons.
My sister used to taunt them, "Could you send someone cooler,please?"
We eventually got bored with the netherworld and ended up using it as the floor to our home-made Barbie dreamhouse.
Yeah, our parents would not buy us a real Barbie Dreamhouse
But the gate to Hell?
Here ya go kids!

Peace ~ Rene

@eloh said...

Oh this made me remember being 18 and away from home. I lived with four other girls for awhile, they were all from the same small town and had a Ouija board and a strange very old book.

I had a few experiences that I would rather not remember.

In trying to undo some things we had done, we read that the mere design of the Ouija brings it a spirit "guardian" that is always with it.
So, we put ours in the trash.

Of course, it was the 60's..... we probably "saw" a lot of things that might have had a different explanation.

powdergirl said...

I brought a ouija board into Sunday school in the church basement once.

Of course I got caught :(

Just about got my ass tanned over that one.

Oh, and it worked all right, it said that my little friend Joyce would marry a bad man one day, she's married several bad men by now, and will probably marry a few more before she's done.

I believe. Haha.

CatLadyLarew said...

We were allowed to have an Ouija board. However, our household ban was that my mother wouldn't let us watch The Twilight Zone. She knew it would be keeping us awake at night!

Wynn said...

I firmly believe that you shouldn't mess around with ouija boards and other stuff that -could- lure things into your home. I wouldn't say that I have had many experiences but when younger we got information out of a board that happened three days later, about a specific person.

I will probably hunt my kids down if they get into it.

troutay said...

Laughing here.....the old ouija board scares.

I had a brother like yours but he didn't tie me to a tree, he locked me in the trunk of the car and forgot me. It was horrifying and to this day I can't stand small inclosed spaces. He also spit on us a lot.
To this day, I do not have much contact with him

ellen abbott said...

We played a game as kids. Basically hide and go seek in the dark and the hider tried to jump out and scare the finder (which was easy because it was dark) while the finder tried to sneak up on the hider and scare them. Senses heightened, anticipating the big scare, yes, delicious.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Personally I don't mess with Ouija Boards. That is just some bad Ju Ju and I felt like that ever since I was a kid. Even the possibility of a game of 'spin the bottle' afterwards would not have enticed me.

And I never believed in all that 'monster/spirit world' crap. I always figured if I never saw a real ghost or ghoul on the TV (that didn't reek of bad latex) then they can't be true because if they were then EVERY show would be about them.

I viewed Ouija Boards with the same sceptism that I viewed smoking. My father taught me early that smoking was a vile thing (great story) and any cousin of mine who was promoting both Ouija Boards and smoking was trying to sell me something I knew I didn't want.

Always trust your ability to sense the bad Ju Ju. Like a 'spidey sense' it is never wrong.

Nuke Girl said...

Me neither, don't feel bad. My parents instilled some vague fear in my head that if I used it, Satan would show up and drag me off to hell right then and there. ;)

I left you an award on my blog! Because I think both you and your blog are interesting and hilarious and thought-provoking. :)

lisleman said...

My friends played with the Ouija board. My family didn't own it so maybe my mother never knew. Thing never worked for us.
It was fun telling scary stories on late summer nights camping out in the backyards. Remember how the shadows looked so big on the side of the tent?
Good times

The Retired One said...

I was freaked out by it too, but I played it...with only one eye open.
And then we lived in a large Victorian, over 100-yr.-old house for 14 years...it gave us signs of the here-after wayyyyyy more than the Ouiji Board ever did...
and then my daughter got on the board and asked it who it was and it answered "Ben" who was 13 years old.
That made sense.
It never scared us but it sure was active in the house! ha

white rabbit said...

There was a murder case over here where the jury was kept in a hotel overnight because they hadn't agreed on a verdict (they don't do that nay more). Out came the ouija board.

The jury got in touch with the murder victim.

'Did the defendant do it?' They asked.

'Yup' said the victim (or something to that effect).

the jury went back the next day and convicted the defendant. Somehow the story of the ouija board got out.

Conviction quashed.

Christine Gram said...

The one and only time I ever even saw (and played) with a Ouija board was at a Catholic teen overnight retreat. Go figure. Everyone was asking it who liked them or when they were going to loose their virginity. When it got to my turn I just blurted out "when am I going to die" and my best friend nearly fainted. It went to the numbers 1 6 ... I'll tell you that was the longest damn year of my life.

Kevin Musgrove said...

we use a ouija board to get our team briefings

Yodood said...

Light as a feather, stiff as a board works!

who said...

I was raised in an active Morman Family. No Squiji boards and on Sundays I wasn't allowed to play games that used dice.