A Chihuahua Haunting

Have you ever seen a ghost? Or maybe experienced something that couldn’t be explained with words? I once saw a little girl in a mirror upon waking – it still gives me the willies today. I believe certain people are more in tune with the “other” realm and they are more apt to experience ephemeral encounters. IMG_0561Children are prone to “seeing” ghosts or talking to rooms that are completely empty; maybe because of their innocence or even openness to the unknown. This logic can be extended down the tree of life to my idiotic Chihuahua – Max. There is no creature that is more innocent and open minded than Max – his outlook on life is an eternal Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Tour. I imagine him waking up to the world each morning with a complete erasure of memory; only remembering his “chocolate” surroundings when he hears me dishing out his daily allotment of tortilla chips. Hence, this complete innocence is why Max can interact with all sorts of paranormal activity. It is not uncommon that he barks to an empty room; or stares eerily at the vacuum cleaner; or evenIMG_0543 throws up nasty green stuff as if possessed by a demon. A chihuahua is the boiled down version of all our fears – everything is a potential poltergeist. Like Max, we all to a degree fear the unknown and search for answers to unexplained phenomenon. For these reasons, I read one of NPR’s great reads of 2016, Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey.

America has a myriad of supposedly haunted houses, commercial buildings, ruins, cemeteries, and even entire cities. Dickey lists several examples but there are a few that stand above all others. One is the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California that was built bImage result for winchester mystery housey Sarah Winchester – the heiress to the Winchester Gun fortune. It is over 20,000 square feet and has 160 rooms which are discombobulated to confuse spirits. There is also the Lalaurie Mansion in New Orleans, the previous host to slaves who were punished with crude experiments, starvation, prolonged chaining, and dismemberment. Head over to Pennsylvania to take a tour of the Eastern State Penitentiary with its formidable facade and even more foreboding interior to hear the cries of long dead inmates. Better yet, search around the city of Detroit for an evil-red-dwarf known as the Nain Rouge – said to be responsible for all of the city’s calamities. Go back west to the hotel that inspiredImage result for eastern state penitentiary Stephen King’s The Shining. The Stanley Hotel, located in Estes Park, Colorado is an isolated building that throughout the years has seen its fair share of ghost sightings. Suffice it to say, no matter where you are in America, you are not far from a haunted place.

 

Is there any truth to these haunted places? I believe there is an underlying mystery to these locales because of their histories but many times the stories are twisted for a specific purpose. For example, many haunted places are connected with Indian burial grounds. TheImage result for slaveryse “backstories” are usually completely erroneous and are added to give merit to the “spiritual” activity. We use ghost stories to sanitize history which goes counter to our modern idea of a “Just America.” Whether it is a black slave left to wander the plantation or a young girl who was killed in cold blood – a haunting helps us interact with a past that just doesn’t fit with our worldview. Of course, many times these haunted places are passed off to the public for the sake of money. Ghost tourism is a booming business  -especially in haunted cities like New Orleans.
Image result for nain rougeCapitalism is a strong harbinger of the dead and it does a great job of perpetuating half truths and whole lies. The modern day ghost story is a caricature mirrored after images that the public expects: from big screen movies to the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney. Humans are always in search of answers and we project our current beliefs into the past – today more than ever we are disconnected from the idea of “death.” Just like Max, the ghost stories of today can either be explained as just another mistaken bump in the night or an actual murderer lurking outside. To me these places are haunted – they are haunted by the living who can’t let go of their fear of the unknown. Do ghosts exist? Look in the mirror.

The Wet Belly Mystery

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“The” Wet Belly

It was the best of times and the worst of times. Last week Tuesday, I was having the best of days. The sun was out, the weather was pleasant, the leaves were colorful, my wife was looking sexy, and my pants were feeling loose. It was one of those Tuesdays when you almost think it’s a Friday. Feeling on top of the world, I decided to take Max, my single-minded Chihuahua, for his most favorite activity in the world – a walk in the park. Max was running through an open field full of grass, leaves, trees, sunshine, groundhogs, and the occasional cluster of white-dog poop. Being in a state of complete relaxation I didn’t notice when my pea-brain dog began to rub his neck in some putrid-smelling substance that was either a dead animal or a concentrated pocket of mud that had been overly exposed to Flint-river water. Whatever the source of the stench, I did not discover it until I came home and bent down to take off his leash. His neck smelled like a trashcan that had been sitting out in the hot sun after a pouring rain – wet, thick, and unbearable. I immediately took him to the shower and began to use the best treatment I had – Head and Shoulders Anti Dandruff Shampoo. Max was all about the shampoo and I think he may have done the stinky neck thing on purpose just to get the extra neck massage. He looked like a wet rat after the soak and I wrapped him tightly in a towel and rubbed his whole body until his fur was barley wet. He bolted out the bathroom door and jumped onto the couch like a crackhead during a bad trip –rubbing his body at random all over the cushions. This was approximately at 5:00 pm.

Around 8:00 pm I was watching TV and heard Max enter the bathroom. This did not bring me much thought because being a Chihuahua, Max is always ADHD and running around the house. I had just used the bathroom and I thought it normal that he was smelling around to access the damage. I heard a faint noise in the bathroom but took it as him trying to get into the trash for some yummy Q-Tips – nothing out of the norm.  At about 8:10 I walked into the living room to give my sexy wife a big kiss and to tell her how amazing she was – again nothing out of the norm. But then, Christina looks over and there are water spots on the couch. At first we thought Max must have peed and we commence a frantic, grab-the-dog-and-throw-him-outside maneuver. Upon grabbing the spindly dog I felt his belly and it was completely wet. I lifted the animal to my nose and performed a thorough smelling – my sense of smell, being a sensitive-introvert, is above average. The liquid was not urine but rather water. I then noticed that the top of the couch, where Max usually sits, was completely soaked in water. I used five large paper towels to soak up the liquid and it again was odorless without any color. This was extremely odd, Max had a wet belly, he dripped water on the couch and his normal sitting area was drenched. We thought this was the extent of the wet-belly fiasco but then Christina, beginning to do her homework again, noticed water on the keyboard. As soon as she touched the keyboard the screen went black. This began a two hour ordeal of Christina going full-out Filipina and me trying to use my limited computer skills to perform a miracle. By 10:00 pm the computer was still not turning on, my Friday-like Tuesday was now a post vacation Monday, and I felt like returning Max back to the Humane Society. In the end we had to pay 400 dollars for a new laptop but thankfully Christina’s work was still safe in the hard drive.

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Signs of Guilt

To this day I have no idea how Max got his wet belly. Did he get into the water dish, the toilet, the post-shower tub? Did his bladder somehow expand to the size of a grown man? I have lost my mind trying to figure out the mystery of the wet belly. Max and I are on tenuous terms and I don’t know if I can ever again trust him around my laptop. What do you think is the riddle of the wet belly? What caused my Chihuahua to turn into a wet burrito? Why do I have a Chihuahua in the first place? All questions that need to be answered. Yet another life-lesson learned from Max – when you have a brain the size of pea you are apt to have a wet bellow at any moment.

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Post Makeup