Today on Facebook on one of my favorite pages, I Fucking Love Science, I got to read theories about why people, especially women it seems, are afraid of spiders. One theory points to their erratic movement and their “legginess.” That can’t be right. If that were true, we’d be afraid of supermodels. Of course, I might be just as startled by a supermodel as a spider if I saw one crawling up my wall. Another theory posits that arachnophobia is genetic. “You need not necessarily experience spiders to be fearful of them.” That’s what I call the “Duh” theory. I’ve never experienced a pit viper and I am fearful of them. Kids get it. They are more afraid of spiders than getting kidnapped or the dark. The article left it a mystery as to why some people fear spiders.
Where I grew up, we had to watch out for black widows. Even the little baby black widows that you would sometimes find clustered in the corner of a room near the carpet in a sticky web. And there were a few brown recluses around too. A kid at my high school got bitten by one. Nasty business. Even non-venomous spiders are a literal pain. Those suckers bite too. So the only mystery here is why some people are NOT afraid of spiders. Am I right?
I have a bit of the treasure hunter in me. I know this because after my boss at a jewelry store told me that another employee had dropped and lost a large diamond behind the front counter years before, I spent every spare moment I could looking for that nugget. I wasn’t going to steal it but I figured that my boss would give me a nice reward. I never found that diamond but I did discover a sensitivity to dust.
I spent one afternoon geocaching with my husband and daughter. That’s a kind of treasure hunt although the rewards that time were simply clues for a later search. I was delighted each time I located the hidden clue before my fellow seekers. Who doesn’t like to win? And who doesn’t love the idea of discovering something amazing?
The best hunting in South Florida occurs when Dave Barry stages the Herald Hunt in Miami. It’s a free family event with a newspaper handout full of problems you must solve in order to arrive at the final solution. The Hunt is set in a pre-determined, walkable geographic area and it’s a riot to watch thousands of people run frantically from location to location to figure out clues. We’ve done the Hunt a few times and it’s always the best time you can have on a beautiful weekend afternoon. We’ve never won but once we came very, very close. I think.
My newest manuscript-in-progress has a bit of a hidden treasure story angle. It’s not the most important aspect of the story but it’s the part I’m having the most fun writing. Because I’m making it up, I can make the treasure whatever suits my fancy. Of course, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction. Just check out this article on the Huffington Post about some of the world’s lost treasures that may yet be found. I’m coveting those Faberge eggs.
Whatever your treasure, I hope you find it.
More than 80 years ago this December, a real-life mystery developed around a real-life mystery author, Agatha Christie. According to Unsolved.com, Ms. Christie’s car was found abandoned an hour from her home on the morning of December 4th, 1926 and she was nowhere to be found. Her disappearance became a huge media sensation. Her husband, Colonel Archibald Christie, who had been having an affair, came under suspicion for murder. Witnesses who saw her before the disappearance described Ms. Christie as upset. Eleven days later, she was found in an upscale spa registered under the last name of her husband’s mistress. Her husband came to fetch her and the two never spoke of the incident again.
Here are some theories suggested at the time: a) she had amnesia, b) she had a sort of psychotic break, or c) she did it as a publicity stunt and enjoyed reading in the newspapers about her cheating husband being trailed everywhere he went. What do you think? I choose (c) because I think Agatha Christie was exceedingly clever. And come on, she registered with the last name of her husband’s mistress. Doesn’t seem like amnesia or a psychotic break to me. Reads like “up yours, Archibald.”
If you love all things British like I do, you might want to check this out. Amazon.com has a collection of books under “British Christmas Mysteries.”
Did you know that the Ouija Board that we know today was first made in 1890? Did you also know that Ouija boards didn’t have an evil reputation until 1973, the year The Exorcist came out? I have to tell you, that explains a lot. You see, my older brother had a board and when I was very young, I played with that thing all the time. Therefore it was already too late in 1973, when the board’s evil nature became apparent, to prevent me from being inhabited by a demon. In my case, it’s a demon that makes me eat entire boxes of Thin Mints. Really, if you knew me, you’d know I’m telling the truth. And I was a Girl Scout back then so I was my own supplier. Evil demon.
A movie just came out about Ouija boards that apparently takes the portal-to-hell point of view. I’m going to give it a pass, at least until I can watch it during broad daylight on my tiny iPad screen thanks to Netflix. (You know that scary movies are less scary in daytime on iPads, right?) My little sleepover friends and I certainly thought that the Ouija board was creepy but we were addicted to that kind of thrill. We held seances, tried to levitate each other using just two fingers on each hand, etc. Later, we just read Stephen King novels and talked about creepy boys.
I always thought that I would eventually write horror novels but I don’t, at least not so far. I find human nature to be creepy enough to satisfy my interests. So I write mysteries and crime. I don’t own a Ouija board and have never introduced my daughter to it’s mysteries. But I may have to get one and ask it when I will land an agent for my novel. That, at the moment, is the biggest mystery of all. Stay tuned.
(Note: this has nothing to do with the recent re-election of Governor Scott.)
I’ve been researching some interesting stuff for my next novel and it looks like the story will be taking me to Key West. I’ve been there many times and one of the best things to do is take a night-time ghost walk tour. It works like this: 1) go to Captain Tony’s or whichever bar you prefer and have several margaritas; 2) walk down Duvall Street to the meeting place of whatever ghost walk tour you are signing up for; 3) bring your camera because you’ll be encouraged to take lots of pictures; 4) freak yourself out by seeing all kinds of “orbs” in your photos; 5) return to Captain Tony’s or whichever bar you prefer and order several more margaritas. (Note that Captain Tony’s is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of the 75 people who died on the hanging tree there.)
The creepiest thing you’ll do on your walk is visit the site of an old church that burned up with a bunch of children inside, so the story goes. Our guide had us put our ears up to the papered-up glass doors and listen for music, or the scratching of little kiddie ghosts trying to escape their doom. I promise you I heard scratching. I also promise that there is no way to tell if it’s someone’s job to scratch at the doors while tour groups pass by. Who knows? There were a heck of a lot of orbs in my photos near the church. Of course, there are non-ghostly explanations for orbs as well.
The creepiest thing you’ll hear about on your walk is Robert the Doll. He lives in Key West but in a museum that’s not close to the downtown area. Robert is real but you’ll have to decide for yourself if the stories you hear about Robert are true. I, for one, have never been able to work up the courage to go see him in person. Apparently the walls of the room where Robert is kept under glass are papered with apology letters from people who saw Robert and made fun of him. The story suggests that Robert curses your life if you don’t pay him proper respect. I’ll err on the side of caution and avoid a face-to-face for now. Maybe. Perhaps if I visit Captain Tony’s first….
My clock radio, the one that was possessed, looked a lot like this one only it was tan and I’d written my name on it in Sharpie, as you do. I hadn’t used the clock radio in 18 years (since law school) but I found it when we unpacked at our last house and placed it on my nightstand. Here’s the kicker — I never plugged it in. Never. So when I woke up from a nap because my clock radio was blaring static noise, I was naturally a little disturbed. How does one turn off a radio that isn’t attached to an electrical source? Figuring that it was possessed, I beat the crap out of it and threw it in the garbage can out in the garage. Maybe it had some old batteries but when have you ever had batteries that lasted 18 years?
So then, one night I woke up and in the same house in the same part of the room, a couple of round specialty light bulbs that my husband was going to install in our utility room were glowing and blinking. They were also unattached to any power source — just sitting on top of my dog’s crate. (Insert freaky music soundtrack.)
Speaking of my dog, one night he was on my bed in that same part of the room and he was staring into that corner growling at nothing. So that’s it. We didn’t have blood dripping down the wall or cloven hoof prints in our carpet but shoot, it was most definitely mysterious and I, for one, am glad we had reason to move last summer.
If you happen to read this and wish to share your own spooky story – fill me in. Just make sure it’s real. You know I did because if I were making it up, the dog’s head would have spun around and the bed would have levitated. Just sayin’.
“I see dead people.”