It is, by now, a well-known fact that I don’t beleive in the supernatural at all. I don’t believe in ghosts because I don’ t believe in life after death. I am, I suppose, a Jewish atheist, which means I get to feel guilty about being an atheist.
In any event, if I did believe in the supernatural, I would suspect that my Grandpa’s ghost was occasionally checking in on me. Case in point:
A little while ago, I was in the bathroom, and as a matter of course, I took my book with me. (When I say that I read in ever spare moment I get, I wasn’t kidding.) As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m reading George Burns’ The Third Time Around. It’s not quite as funny as Living It Up, but it has its moments. In any event, there I was reading, when I came across a passage that made me just crack up laughing, and I swear I could hear my Grandpa’s hilarious laugh echoing throughout the bathroom. Naturally, this freaked me out a little, not because I don’t believe in ghosts, but because the last place you want the ghost of your dead Grandfather looking over your shoulder is when you’re in the can.
The funny thing is, I know for a fact that this is something that would have caused in my Grandpa one of his famous laughs, and there are probably one one or two other people alive today, who, along with me, know why. In this particular passage, George is talking about a vacation he and Gracie took to Paris in the early 1930s…
We stayed in Paris for five days and we really had a wonderful time. Of course, the girls did some shopping, and then we went to all the places the tourist books tell you to go. We saw the Left Bank, the Right Bank, we went to the top of the Eiffel tower, took a trip down the Seine, we visited the Notre Dame cathedral (naturally, I looked around for Lon Chaney)…
Now that won’t seem funny to most people but it was funny to me and Grandpa would have cracked up if he read it. The reason is that I always used to tease him about Lon Chaney. You see, when he was a small boy, five or six years old, he went to an movie theater to see Phantom of the Opera starring, you guessed it, Lon Chaney. My Grandpa was up in the balcony and was sitting on the top of his seat so that he could see. This was a silent movie, but in one scene, the Phantom swings out on the chandelier, and it looks as though he’s coming right toward the screen. This was the first movie my Grandpa ever saw, and he didn’t know what to expect. He thought the phantom was going to burst right through the screen and so he tumbled backward off his perch in fright.
Once he told me that story, any time that either Lon Chaney, or the Phantom of the Opera was mentioned, I would turn quickly to my Grandpa and say, in mock-serious tones, “Don’t fall off your chair!” It would always break him up.
Well, sitting there, in the bathroom, I read that passage and laughed, imagined my Grandpa laughing… and then darn it if I didn’t imagine him say to me, “Don’t fall off your chair!”
I was laughing so hard at that point I think I blacked out.