Wednesday, April 12, 2006

How To Own And Operate A Haunted House

As a teenager, I was obsessed with throwing Halloween parties, so much so that the planning would start in August. My friend Melissa and I had access to a mess of decorations thanks to the largesse of her parents and copious amounts of strawberry-scented incense purchased at the local Piggly Wiggly. I'd throw on my scariest fortune-telling look (the fact that nobody had explained me the importance of plucking my eyebrows alone was scary enough -- the skirts with bells trailing bells and homemade shawls now seem like overkill) and come up with predictions for the future with a crystal ball and a very real-looking amputated hand that exuded oil to make it seem alive on my table. The setting for these parties was Mineral Wells (a small town on the edge of West Texas) in the 1970s. The town contained a decommissioned army base, all four poisonous snakes found in the U.S., and an old hotel that used to dispense curative waters (the Crazywater Hotel -- no, I could not make that name up) that contained lots of lithium. Movie stars in the 1930s loved that water. Who wouldn't? But as good as our haunted rooms were, we couldn't compete with my favorite Mineral Wells tradition which was the haunted house run by emotionally disturbed teenagers (that was the heading for those both mentally-challenged and/or criminally-inclined) on the old base, known as the Edgmeade Haunted House. Who thought this was a good idea, I do not know. The place itself didn't need that much help in looking haunted and the kids playing the monsters, well, they got into their parts a little too fully. Wherever you turned, there was something scarier than the last corner, which when I think about it, wasn't the worst preparation for life.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

Haunted House

Vodka shots in test tubes garnished with peeled grapes (to masquerade as eyes). Pack in ice as you would a body.

Benedictions and Maledictions

First appeared in Sulphur Springs Literary Review

Time forgets or it doesn't,
the sound of a casket closing.
Not everything that dies is
dead. Once my mother picked
up a hitchhiker, a man on crutches
wearing a black trench coat.
Nothing was wrong with him,
she said. I didn't realize it until
he was in my car, too late. I never
stop my car, but sometimes he rides
with me, his coat in a ball in the back.


Wichita-Lineman said...

Haunted Houses and Spells!! Now I know where Palahniuk got his inspiration for the enchanting Helen Hoover Boyle.
I love your Site/ Blog, and your spells are delightfully delicious.
I've been drinking deep from their well, and it’s a new flavor everyday. As the great Frank Sinatra once said:
"Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.”
Now how about a Hang Over spell....

John said...

Dear Michelle,

Lovely again, as always. Helps making it to Good Friday all the more manageable. Please keep them coming, they are a fine ritual.

Paul said...

You're a one-foxy-lady USO show cheering up the Vets. On behalf of all the guys and gals, rock on. you're the Queen-of-the-Corridor and my Heart.

Cindy said...

Sweet Michelle, your poetry will help us all.

As for these men, I suggest a circle jerk (in the dark) for all their savior complexes, if they can manage that in their senile dotage. You ARE a savior as well as survivor and they are superfluous (and they know it when we deconstruct them).

To the men of 2006: the proper term is WOMEN, not LADIES. That morally bankrupt L term is akin to calling African Americans "Negros." Get a clue. Really. Words matter.

Anonymous said...

M, you're the best!

Cindy: I hate to be pedantic, but it was spelled "Negroes." You're right about "Ladies," though, unless one means "ladies of the night," another archaic phrase.