Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Woo-Woo Indeed

People tell me their ghost stories.

It's not like I ask--I figure the ghost stories I make up should be just that (made up), so I'm not looking for extra "research" in the way of people telling me how their Cousin Bob, gone these 14 years, still pulls the cereal box out of the cupboard in the morning or how the house they bought during the real estate boom (remember THAT?) is inhabited by the spirit of a Revolutionary War draft dodger named Ezekial.

I don't mind hearing the stories; far from it, since most of them are really entertaining. But it's funny that 1. everyone I meet seems to have a supernatural tale or two from their "real" life, while I'm trying to make a living writing ones that I guarantee you never happened and 2. they launch into these stories unprompted, assuming that if I write ghost stories, I must want to hear as many as possible.

A few (not many, but a few) readers have complained--alas, out loud on Amazon and elsewhere--that my ghost stories aren't accurate, that ghosts don't act that way, and that I am, therefore, a fraud. Hardly. I've never made an claim to knowledge of an afterlife, and hope not to have any such knowledge for a very long time. I make stuff up. I hope it will entertain those who choose to read it, and if it does, I've done my job adequately. If not, no amount of "accuracy" is going to make much difference.

What strikes me more than anything else is the certainty with which the people I meet lay out these fantastical tales. I am something of a skeptic--no, I am EVERYTHING of a skeptic--but the sincerity with which the stories are told is striking. I'm not sure which one of us they're trying to convince, but it's taking a lot of effort either way.

When I meet you, if you feel like telling me your ghost story, please do. I love to hear a good tale, supernatural or just natural, and I'm always happy to be enthralled with a person's passion. But if you're expecting me to smite myself in the forehead and shout, "Finally! The proof I've been seeking!", well, I'm afraid you might be a tad disappointed.

And I hate to disappoint. So be prepared.