The Non-Expert

Phantom Menace

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we rush to the aid of a distressed reader who believes her house is haunted.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: Hello. Thank you for reading my message… which you will think I am not normal but I think that our house is haunted. Please say to me which people are supposed to make the stop of ghosts… No jokes… Thank you. —Sandrine

Answer: Ah, that age-old question: When there’s somethin’ strange in the neighborhood, who you gonna call?

Sadly, most ghost stories don’t end with a large man made of campfire desserts spewing the remains of his sticky, delicious flesh all over you and your buddies.

I did a Google search on “eliminate ghosts” and discovered a site devoted to a new technique for getting rid of the ones that appear on government property. I realize your house is probably not government-owned, but I thought this new technique might work in the civilian sector too, so I clicked on the link. This led to my anti-virus software engaging in acid-inflected epileptic seizure. So I don’t know the technique for eliminating ghosts that appear on government property, but apparently it’s hardcore.

Luckily, there are others you can call when the ectoplasm hits the fan.

Reality TV Producers

This one’s good if you want to end your ghost infestation and become a P-list celebrity. Call up any big-time TV producer, like Merv Griffin, only not dead. Then pitch your winning docu-adventure-contest. It’s Ghost Hunters meets Fear Factor and your children are the contestants. Challenges include 1) sleeping alone under a rickety chandelier without wetting the bed; 2) identifying which low moans are the ghost and which are coming from Jane Seymour draped in a sheet outside the child’s bedroom; and 3) beating the ghost at an obstacle course even though it can pass through walls and stuff. What I’m saying is, this is America: Your haunted house isn’t a problem, it’s a profit opportunity. Make your ghost work for you!

Toni Morrison

At a party a couple years ago I met a woman who had met Toni Morrison at a party. True story. As you may know, Toni Morrison is the author of Beloved, one of the more well-known contemporary ghost stories. According to my source, it’s based on Toni’s own experience with ghosts, and Toni believes that the best way to handle them, even if you’re more scared than Bill Murray confronting the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, is to simply say, “You’re scaring me. I don’t know why you’re here. Please let me know what you need from me.” And one way or another, they will tell you. Then they will probably go away on their own. Because they’d rather be dead than in between.

Or so says a Nobel laureate, supposedly. Call her up and get more details. Maybe she will say to you, “He wants to do this terrible thing, which is listen to the children.”

Or maybe she will say, “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”

These are things she has said before and I think they’re helpful advice in your situation. Don’t listen to the children when they’re screaming in terror; listening to the children is a terrible thing to do, especially when they’re saying annoying things like, “The ghost is picking up a knife!” Along these lines, just like water is trying to get back to where it was, so is your ghost. It remembers the other realm really well, but it doesn’t know how to get back. That’s why it’s carrying a knife. If you help it get back, that’s win-win.

Cute College Boys

I’m not saying you’re a Florida schoolteacher, but you know, teenagers are drawn to drama, and your “haunted house” story may be a good way to get some to come over. If you’re scared, they might hug you. Hugs are legal with just about anyone.

Take this scenario: You just happen to be strolling through a campus of your choosing on Halloween night in a Batgirl outfit. Young lads are staggering out of a frat party, donning their Tarzan and Superman costumes. Remember, use your accent.

You: I’m so sorry to trouble you, but I’m—ow do you say—scaert, and I need zome ‘elp.

Tarzan: More beer!

He stumbles away. Whatever. Superman is more toned anyway.

Superman: Sorry, dude’s kind of an ape. What help do you need?

You: I’m afraid my ‘ouse is ‘aunted, and I need some protection.

Superman: That is sick, man! I gotta check this out. Do you mind if my girlfriend comes too?

The answer to this question is entirely up to you.

Or, you’re sitting at home on a dark, late October evening. It’s 9:00 and you haven’t had dinner yet. The kids are asleep and you start to hear bumps in the night. There’s only one thing to do: Order takeout. The delivery boy arrives and you ask him in so he doesn’t have to stand in the cold while you rummage through your purse for the tip. A strong gust blows the door shut behind him. Startled, you leap into his swim-team arms. This leads to you guys “sharing a pizza.”

Fashion Editors

Ghosts are the ultimate models. They weigh way less than any of those comparative fatties you see on the runways. And they must have access to trends that we mortals don’t know about. You could have a career as an agent!

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani hates ferrets. Or at least, he hates ferret advocates. His apoplectic rant at the executive president of New York Ferret Rights Advocacy was once an A-list soundbite. “There’s something deranged about you… This excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness.” [mp3] If you’re, say, a Fred Thompson or Dennis Kucinich fan, try cornering Giuliani about the rights of the ghosts among us, spur him on to another spastic meltdown, and watch what it does to the poll numbers.

Good luck. I hope after reading this you recognize the ways in which your haunting is a tool for success in business, love, and politics. Remember: Life, and the undead, are what you make of them.