The Devil and David Sedaris

When I was twelve years old, I snuck a copy of The Amityville Horror to my room and read the whole thing in a day. Then I couldn’t sleep.

I love ghost stories. And then I hate them. That night I woke up and left my room with the intention of going upstairs to sleep on the couch, where I would… I don’t know … get a heads up earlier if something supernatural was going on.

As I approached the stairs, I could see a beam of light hitting each stair from one floor to the next. In the dark it looked like a deck of cards had escaped and was making its way, one card at a time, up the stairs. I ran back to my room and leapt into bed, hoping to clear the last couple feet before the mattress so that something lying underneath wouldn’t be able to grab me by the ankle.

I’d like to say I’ve grown out of being afraid of ghosts. Now the bad dreams I have are of zombies coming after my children. Or of my children becoming zombies and coming after me. Or of running out of milk for cereal in the morning.

These days Jack likes to record cheesy horror movies on the DVR. They’re not really horror, per se, but slasher movies about psychos who wear hockey masks, or maniacal dolls that carry butcher knives. I cannot believe how much crap from the eighties is available for horror marathons on cable. I never watched slasher horror movies. That stuff about serial killers coming back to life for every sequel is just plain stupid. Not like supernatural stuff like hauntings or possessions that could really happen.

Forget about Jason, or Freddy, or Chucky. If Mike wants to freak me out, he can open his mouth and make that squeaky inhale sound like they made in The Grudge. Because the Japanese know how to scare people. They eat shrimp with the eyeballs still attached. Who DOES that?

Then there’s this:


THAT, my friends, is the face of the devil in my bathroom grout, and exactly the sort of thing that I think is mildly interesting until I wake up at three am thinking about it. Why is it that my kid can watch Chucky and Jason, but I couldn’t read Amityville Horror without imagining a floating deck of cards climbing the stairs to get my family?

Of course, then there’s this:

Thank you, David Sedaris.
Thanks, David Sedaris.

THIS is perspective. See? It’s not the face of the devil, it’s an owl. The devil is an interesting literary device when someone wants to tell a creepy story about a hotel caretaker going crazy at some remote, mountain location or why Linda Blair would spew pea soup at a priest.

An owl is also a literary device. It can be a symbol of good or evil, death, wisdom, magic. Or it could just be an owl.

Then again, it could just be a sign that I need to scrub the grout in my bathroom floor, which is hardly interesting at all.

Until it’s three am again. At three am even David Sedaris spooks me a little.

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