Kersten Campbell, author of Confessions of a Completely In-Sane Mother, is a woman after my own heart! Her book of quick witted essays on motherhood had me laughing until my sides hurt because I could relate to so many of them!!! The titles alone (Booby-Trapped, Zen and the Art of Zucchini, Alice in Mormonland, Hope and Schemes Oops, I Lost the Baby and Sew What?) are enough to make you want to laugh
But the one that brought back memories and immediately sent me once again tripping through the past was one called Older but Dimmer. It discusses in such glaring reality the gap between those of our children’s generation and our own.
It didn’t take me long to remember a time when I had wanted to reclaim my youth and show the younger generation that I was till hip. (Is that even still a word – oh,…no my son verified it, if you are cool you are now sic…)
On a dark October night I took a large group of teens (my brother, his friends and a few of my younger cousins) up to the Salt Lake City Cemetery and prepped them for a night full of ghostly fun by telling them one whopper of a story about the first caretaker who’d died mysteriously after burying someone who had been a dead ringer and found a wee bit too late..
For those who do not know the tale behind this old saying, it dates back to the turn of the 18th century when sickness, paralysis or a comatose state could make a person appear as dead. The fear was that they’d be buried alive and so to remedy this, if a mistake happened, they’d string a cord from the coffin to a bell planted in the ground above the supposed corpse. If it rang, the person was said to be a “dead ringer” and was exhumed immediately. If they saw someone who looked just like the person buried, they were also to have been called a dead ringer since the person obviously couldn’t be dead and was still walking around.
Back to my story – So I set this gaggle of adrenaline crazed youth up for the scare of a lifetime enjoying every delicious minute of it. I drove them by a house and told them that on the anniversary of the dead ringer’s death, his ghost could be seen on moonless nights in the attic of the old caretaker’s clapboard house stocking him and still looking to find justice from his troubled state beyond. (It’s amazing how the power of suggestion works at times…)
After “seeing” the shadows of the ghost in someone’s clapboard house that was in serious need of repair, my young friends wanted to see the exact grave of the “dead – ringer”. I had remembered a grave that looked like a door way with bars and an old bowl set deep into it with a bell hung right above it. It was perfect!
After spinning my tale a bit more, Chainsaw (a nickname,… but yes, that is what he went by) mentioned in a tone that was casual yet made higher by nerves, that he was starting to itch. He began twitching and itching at a rather dramatic rate which worried me since he is highly allergic to only one thing – animals.
“But there are no animals around! Unless of course you count Chavez over there – his hair is pretty long…”
Then what’s that coming towards us?”
It was about that time that we heard a rather distinctive snarling as the fiercest-looking Doberman Pincher I’d ever seen barreled towards us. And on his heels were two more.
They looked at me like I was the wise one. Were they daft???? As if I could direct them anywhere - I’d planned this whole night on a youthful and uncharacteristic whim!
“What’re you looking at me for? Run, you idiots!”
They did and I was left alone realizing that my aging body could not quite keep up with their youth, vigor and more nimble knees. And since I was on my own, I ran with all I had hoping for life and limb that I could make it to the fence before that dang dog could tear me apart1
As I barely managed to scale the fence with Kujo nipping at my backside, I limped to the car smiling. I had finally answered one of life’s biggest questions (and today’s “Life Saver”;
I now understand how a cemetery can raise its burial charges and blame it on the cost of living - It’s because people like me need to regain their youth by hassling the dead and the new wave of caretakers needs an army of dogs to keep the idiots out.
If you need a good laugh, read Kersten’s book It’s sure to tickle your funny bone!