The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Ghost of Plumbing Past, or how long can Scrooge hold it?



I’m not sure that this is even possible, much less probable; some things are possible but not probable, other things are probable but not very likely, and other things are neither possible nor probable, as when you tell the credit card company that the check is in the mail; but I am reasonably certain that my house is haunted and the spirit that haunts my house has an incontinence problem.  I know this because the toilet in my back bathroom keeps flushing when no one is in my back bathroom and since toilets don’t flush themselves, unless you go to the mall; the urinals are completely hands off in the men’s room there, which is a very good thing, I think; I must assume that there is some sort of spirit using my back bathroom.  It seems the only logical explanation, but it does pose something of a conundrum: why would a spirit need to use a bathroom in the first place?

Incontinence does seem to challenge the conventional wisdom about ghosts, which, as we all learned as children, are the disembodied spirits[i] of the dead. One would think, given that the dead are, in fact, dead, and therefore have no further need for an excretory system that they would choose to inhabit some other portion of the house, like the living room, the bedrooms, or the kitchen, rooms redolent with time and family memory, unlike the bathroom, which is only redolent of last night’s dinner. In death, just as in life, it seems, there is no accounting for tastes. Of course, I could be very wrong about this; ghosts might choose to haunt bathrooms because bathroom users are usually in a state of partial or total nudity. It is difficult to run away from a ghost or to explain why one is running away from something no one else can see while one’s pants are down around one’s ankles or when one is wrapped in a bath towel, if that. Ghosts may think this sort of thing is funny. They have to do something to pass the time now that they have lots of time to pass.

Be that as it may, the spectral toilet flushing in my house also poses the question of why anyone would want to haunt my house in the first place. I live in the house my father built for the family when we joined the great white flight to the suburbs—in our case, the exurbs—back in the 1960’s.  It is a small house; it began its existence as a much smaller house, but my father kept adding to it as the family expanded.  There is nothing dramatic looking about my house; it is vaguely split-level looking but I am not sure if my father intended that or whether he had some building materials left over and chose to use them up. We have no way of knowing because there are no architectural plans for the house; my father kept all of that stuff in his head, where it is currently unavailable for review.  So, basically, there is nothing about my house that would be especially attractive to a ghost looking for a nice place in the country. There are no previous owners with a taste for Black Masses or who indulged in cannibalism as a means of supplanting their protein intake or conducted wild sex orgies that went horribly awry, requiring the secret nocturnal interment of comely young blondes in the back yard.  My house is utterly unprepossessing, not at all the kind of place that an ambitious young ghost would want to go in order to advance his/her/its/their career in the spectral realm.

Actually, I do not mind sharing the house with a ghost. They seem reasonably polite—they stay out of the way during the day light hours, for example, when I’m trying to get something done—and I don’t have to remind them not to smoke in bed and they do not leave the toilet seat down as a reason to provoke discord.[ii] The ghost or ghosts—I still don’t know if this is a solo act or a group enterprise—do not, however, pay rent, and this is a major bone of contention between us. If you live in my house or you choose to not live while in my house, I expect the rent on the first of the month and I don’t want to hear any excuses about family emergencies or needing the money to pay the bills this month. I have bills too and I don’t like deadbeats, especially when they’re dead to begin with and so don’t have any excuse for not paying on time. I’m providing these people; well, you can’t actually call them people anymore, can you, and calling them ex-people seems a little silly, doesn’t it; I’m providing these presences with a place to stay while they wait for whatever it is that they are waiting for to happen and all I am asking for is some money to cover the expenses of running a haunted house, and, and this is a very big and, that they stop flushing the damn toilet in the middle of the night.  I don’t think it’s funny anymore. At this point, it’s just annoying.

Which brings me back to my original problem: I don’t know how I got stuck with ghosts with incontinence problems. I assumed at first that it was simply my bad karma. I was, no doubt, an evil person in a former life and so the people I harmed then in that life are here in my back bathroom to remind me that they’ve neither forgotten nor forgiven me for the things I did to them then.  There’s a lot of that sort of thing here in our happy little burg. Whenever there’s a wedding reception down at the Knights of Columbus hall you can see the turkey buzzards and black vultures circling over the building and the happy couple; the consensus around here is that those birds are the reincarnated souls of divorce lawyers circling over a fresh kill. Depressing, alas, but very true, I fear. Karma can be a royal pain in the backside.  It does makes me wonder, though, what the hell I did to those people that they’ve come back to annoy me as much as possible.  And it has to be personal. I don’t think any sane ghost would try to manifest itself through a flushing toilet. No one finds flushing toilets in the least bit frightening.  None of the great horror classics of literature or film features a flushing toilet as a means of scaring anyone. There are slasher films; there are no flusher films. Anthony Perkins does not eviscerate Janet Leigh in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho with a toilet plunger. So why do it, other than the ghost has to go and when you got to go, you got to go, even if you’re dead and technically have already gone. You know, now that I think of it, they could be teenage ghosts. This flushing thing has all earmarks of the incredibly stupid juvenile nonsense that teenagers think is incredibly funny, like fart noises and setting alley cats on fire.  If that’s the case, I should invest in some earplugs, I think. The nights are only going to get longer.


[i]  I’m sorry, but aren’t all spirits, almost by definition, disembodied?  If they weren’t disembodied, they’d be alive, or, like zombies and life insurance salesmen, a reasonably good facsimile thereof.
[ii] The toilet seat stays up. My house, my rules. You don’t like it, use the haunted bathroom or go to a hotel.

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2 Comments:

  • At 4:22 PM, Blogger Dick Stanley said…

    The toilet seat satys up? Euuu.

     
  • At 8:56 AM, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said…

    While I agree that a toilet-flushing ghost sounds harmless, I would avoid travel by boat, ship, yacht and similar in the near future. Who knows what that ghost has in mind by flushing.

    As for the general harmlessness - you obviously don't pay for water usage by volume. If it happened in this here Entity, I would be back with an exorcist in a jiffy, cause the water bills bite here.

     

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