I have a poltergeist. His name is Bas, short for Bastion of Evil. I’ve had him since college. I’m not quite sure why he started homing in on me, but I first noticed him when my random player for my music playlist started playing the same few songs over and over again. Apparently the Bastion of Evil is very fond of Bon Jovi, which I can’t say is surprising. Birds of a feather, you know.
Bas has expanded his repertoire since then. He makes all my important emails get caught in the spam filter, eats my socks (only the right sock, for some reason, and he favors patterned socks that can’t easily be paired with other sort-of-similar socks), and hides that thing I’ve been looking for. He also likes to put my flute in a different place every time I set it down, but I think that’s just because he doesn’t like my flute-playing, which, fair enough. You don’t have to be a spirit being of malicious mischief for that.
Truth be told, I’ve been impressed at the steady way in which Bas has been working to improve his skills. He’s been showing real initiative and discipline. I especially admired the way in which he recently caused two lightbulbs to burn out just after I’d put the ladder away after replacing three other bulbs that had been out for weeks. It’s Bas’s attention to detail that sets him apart from the other poltergeists.
He’ll go missing sometimes. It took a while for me to see the pattern, but once I started to look, I realized that, when I didn’t notice him around the apartment for a while, there would be odd stories on the news: one time after Bas disappeared, the Vice-President shot his friend in the face while duck-hunting. Another time not long ago, Bas vanished for a while and a British Petroleum oil well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and started spewing oil uncontrollably. When Bas reappeared, he seemed particularly smug and put “It’s My Life” on loop for a week (longest week of my life).
Over the years, I’ve tried various techniques to overcome my poltergeist. Of course, I went with the ever-popular exorcism. This seemed to go well–no one’s head started spinning around, nothing caught on fire–until the end, when the priest turned to go and found that Bas had tied his shoelaces together. Subtle. The computer then started playing “You Give Love A Bad Name” without any apparent cause. Also, it turns out that holy water stains duvets. And Bas was still around.
I tried talk therapy, to see if there was some underlying issue we could resolve that would break this cycle of mischief. I would ask questions like “How does it feel when you inflict injury on others?” to a seemingly empty room. Then a crash would come from somewhere nearby, and I would run out to see a friend rolling around on the floor with a fork stuck in her foot, whimpering “It hurts!” And I would yank out the implement, clean up my friend, and stomp back to my room, muttering “You could have just mysteriously typed it on my computer screen, you know.”
In the end, I decided to embrace my poltergeist. Not literally, because I’m guessing that ectoplasm is even worse for fabrics than holy water is, but metaphorically. Bas is a poltergeist, and he’s mine. I check my email spam filter regularly, buy new socks to replace the ones he’s eaten and resign myself to listening to a lot of Bon Jovi. In return, Bas doesn’t blow up my apartment, and he stays out of the way when I’ve got a guy over. A poltergeist will do a lot for a woman who keeps him well-supplied with socks.