Recently I came across a paper I wrote in college at the prestigious University of Florida in 1999 about vengeful ghosts. Because many of my professors at UF were drunk and unable to focus their attention through big chunks of words, my papers wound up on a bunch of notecards. Lucky for those of you who are also drunk and unable to focus on big chunks of words—I have a list. A list with zero context.
I originally read the list via sock puppets to keep the attention of my classmates and the professor, but those socks are now long gone, likely eaten by one of the guinea pigs I had. I had two. One was named Chicken. The other was named Cat. They ran free in my best friend and then-roommate’s bedroom when she moved out because we were always drunk, but she was too drunk to get up all the time every day and somehow I sometimes managed. She put something in the washing machine once and my dad drove up from Zephyrhills to take it apart because it wasn’t spinning, but it was smoking. Dad didn’t say what was in there. Maybe a rug because I remember we were missing a rug.
1. La Bur-air-uh de feliz-us:
Translation: woman in white who is terrible with rodents—this vengeful ghost was pushed into a grave while pregnant, then gave birth in the grave but the grave was full of socially acceptable pests that people—often children—keep as pets, so the baby screamed until the rodents had eaten all but his bones. Later, though, they ate the bones. Now the woman in white haunts mall pet stores, smacking the method of payment out of customer’s hands, and she is said to kidnap small children. She manifests audibly, by making squeaking noises, which is undetectable if she’s around rodents because all the rodent pets make the same noise.
In particular, guinea pigs are loud and squeaky, and you can’t hear anything over them, not even ghosts. Sometimes I would throw a quarter of a head of lettuce in the room and shut the door real quick. They liked oranges, which it being Florida, you know, oranges, oranges, oranges. I guess I gave them water but I don’t remember how I did it. If they were free range, which they were, they didn’t have one of those water bottles because those only affix to cages, I think. Their legs are too short to interact with a human bowl of water.
Well, they ate the carpets, walls, and phone jacks in addition to the fruits and vegetables, as if they couldn’t tell the difference—like every day was their first day as a guinea pig.
2. Duh Aye-tee y tee:
The vengeful spirit of a woman in white who committed suicide after falling in love with a man who climbed leafless, branchless, trees in order to rearrange and test wires so that people could communicate with each other. The woman married the man and they had two babies. One was a tiny pelican, and the other one was a normal baby.
One day while he was up on the pole testing the wires with some sort of yellow handheld device, he was snatched up by a swarm of pelicans carried off into the sky, and burned crispy by the sun. Today, she manifests as Catherine Zeta Jones and gives throat cancer to men that cross her.
All that roughage, by which I mean the building and utility materials AND fibrous produce, caused the guinea pigs to poop hard pellets, which I guess is not unusual, but it seemed like an awful lot.
Little pellet piles collected in corners, like the traditional way you put the fake snow on the corners of your windows, but instead it’s a bedroom and not a window and with poop pellets, not snow from a can.
They also peed in the corners, because I guess I did water them. Did you know that guinea pigs like to poop and pee exclusively along perimeters? No center-of-the-room excretory activity. Did you know that all animals that do not live in jungles or on prairies exclusively poop along perimeters?
Ocean animals are iffy. Because the moment the ocean becomes the beach is impossible for anyone to know.
3. Linda del Mar de Su Casa para mi Biblioteca
Translation: Ancient Suwanee Pirhana
This spirit—also a woman in white—haunts the great Suwanee river, which runs from Miami to central Canada. Hence the Spanish name. This woman in white, like most other vengeful ghosts, was murdered and gave birth through her spine while slumped in a shallow grave. The difference between this ghost and other ghosts, however, is that she was a fisherman.
When she was born, her mother said to her. “You can’t be a fisherman. Fisherman are ugly.” So the woman, in defiance, became the most beautiful woman in the village and also the fishing champion of all time for that village.
Linda had a perfectly symmetrical face, and the scientifically-proven waist-to-hip ratio that makes men love women. Also her knees never got baggy when she was getting old, and her bones never hurt. She wasn’t embarrassed by her armpits or elbows. She kept her eyebrows under control.
So in this village, Linda moved from yurt to yurt engaging in sexual activities of many kinds—ancient blow jobs, which are superior to modern blow jobs because the internet wasn’t telling everyone how to give blow jobs, straight up sex which also the internet has ruined for everyone world-wide, the sacred art of finger banging which can never be ruined, and whatever else there is to do, I do not know. But before she engaged with them, she would lure them into the Suwanee river, where she would teach them to fish. Her policy was that instead of giving a man a fish, which obviously you can’t really live on for long, she would teach him to fish because then that man could use that skill forever. Fishing is like riding a bicycle. But then she would kill them so the skill didn’t matter, and they would float down the river and beavers would make dams of their bones. But it is always nice to learn a new skill.
Eventually Linda got pregnant. This wasn’t a surprise to me when I was reading the original manuscript written on papyrus while eating mini snickers bars in the University of Florida library. She wasn’t using condoms. Back then you had to bang condoms out of sheepskin. Maybe I’m confusing sheep with lambs, but I’m pretty sure those animals are the same thing. Either way, they do not make good birth control.
Maybe my best friend that broke the washing machine was DIYing some bootleg sheep condoms, because she is now pregnant.
This friend and I have done everything pretty much in sync since age four, or at least I have created this mythology. Besides going to school together for 8 years, we went back to get our undergrad degrees at the same time, went to grad school for the same thing at the same time, began major relationships, ended major relationships, fought a landlord that tried to get us to pay for a new rug because I ruined the corners of a bedroom in this one apartment. And now she is pregnant and I am not even interested in being pregnant myself. She called me at work, which is not a thing people do because it is not the 90s, and asked me if I could step outside to talk.
So I did. She told me. I cried. I did not and do not know what that feeling was, and that is ok.
After my grandfather had a stroke, he couldn’t talk or move around or eat. As a last resort, his body used tears to express every emotion. Tears covered them all.
One thing that has surprised me so far about being a person is that your body creates and reacts to an emotion before your spirit can even know what the meaning is. In that way, people must respond however they wind up responding to the moments that push you further along. Like how a mother might react to their baby falling into the path of a moving car.
I’ve heard that the strength of a mother protecting her child is enough to lift a car. I wholeheartedly believe this is true.