A friend once told me that you can learn a lot about people by
looking at what they read. She explained how our literary
preferences reveal everything from political leanings to parenting
styles. I nodded in agreement, praying all the while that she
wouldn't ask what was on my nightstand at the moment.
It was The Stranger Beside Me, a book about serial
killer Ted Bundy.
I have always been fascinated with true crime stories and how a
seemingly normal person can actually be living the life of a
certifiable wack-a-doodle. While my own "questionable" tendencies
are mostly limited to hoarding vintage Christmas ornaments and
wearing socks to bed, it's not like they go unnoticed. People make
fun of me. My family often gifts me with fuzzy footwear. My husband
asks how many "scary old wooden Santas we need" before they take
over our house. My idiosyncrasies are quite public and they result
in plenty of ribbing.
So how in the world does a person get away with stowing a body
in a barrel in their living room for years without igniting the
suspicion of a single neighbor?
Because I come from a long line of law enforcement personnel, I
like to believe that my interest in crime and assorted sociopaths
is simply genetic. When I visited London years ago and my buddy
asked what I wanted to do first, I was ready:
"The Jack the Ripper Murder Tour! We go to the sites of all the
MURDERS! And then we get BEER at the end! Weeeeee! "
I also love graveyards, ghost stories, and all things
This past weekend, my friend Susan posted on Facebook that she
had an extra ticket for one of the Historic Ghost Tours of
Naperville. You can probably guess who responded with the fastest
"ME! PICK ME!"
We arrived in a minivan full of suburban cops, firemen, and
their wives (are you starting to see a theme about who exactly
enjoys this kind of stuff?). The tour started at Quigley's Irish
Pub where we gulped down ciders to put us in "good spirits."
Christopher, our knowledgeable and slightly peculiar tour guide,
gave each of us a handheld ghost-hunting device that would light up
in the presence of "disturbed energy" (i.e. long-dead brides
bemoaning their missing grooms). We were encouraged to snap
pictures and report back on any eerie "orbs" (more evidence of
spirits). The only thing missing was Vincent Price himself as we
strolled towards our first haunted house in search of Casper.
Surprisingly, I found the tour extremely educational. I had no
idea that one of the worst train disasters in history occurred in
Naperville on April 26, 1946, leaving 47 dead. As we stood on the
tracks at the site of the tragedy, the wind suddenly kicked up and
Christopher commented, "That always happens when we get to this
spot, even on still, calm nights." Cue spooky music.
The evening was one-half silliness and one-half commentary on
the sad, the deranged, and the dead. It provided a rare combination
of conflicting emotions and experiences.
In other words, it was right up my alley.
Some of the bus-stop moms have asked whether the tours would be
appropriate for children. It really depends on the kid. My oldest
son, who is 8, would have loved it. My younger boys would have
required therapy afterwards. Christopher did admit that several
Girl Scouts left the tour in tears recently. Yet if you have a
child with an appreciation for a good ghost story (or a child who
seems destined for a career in police or fire work), this may be a
great way to spend an unworldly autumn evening.
For anyone interested, visit http://www.historic-ghost-tours-naperville.com.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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