September 19, 2012 at 11:47 am | Posted in J. Frederick | Leave a comment

You’ve got a problem: Your house is haunted.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s a perfectly normal condition and it happens to the best of us.  Eleanor Roosevelt grew up in a haunted house, and she went on to become the greatest woman who ever lived.  See?  There’s still hope for you.  In fact, the ghost is the least of your worries.  The real issue is that ghosts, not merely content to cheat death and defy decency by hanging around long after they have given this mortal coil an undeserved shuffling, want more, so much more.  Ghosts want to make a mess; in short, they want to leave their ectoplasm all over the place.  How many times has it happened to you?  How many times have you been awakened in the night by an awful and unearthly din – a ghost in your larder or on your veranda?  You can hear them, making that distinctive hum and spouting their usual appalling barrage of profanity (ghosts are notorious for their ungodly spewing of unthinkable obscenities, even, and often especially, if they were not known to talk in such a way during life).  You approach them, as you should, waving a broom and exclaiming “shoo ghost shoo!” to chase them away, which usually does the trick (if not, you will need to get a hold of a ghost-removal kit – usually consisting of a candle, a sprig of baby’s breath, a book of poems by Shelley, seven yards of fine Chinese silk, and a vial of virgin’s blood – but, of course, general ghost-removal is beyond the scope of this article).  So, the ghost has returned to its unholy dwelling place, but more often than not it has left behind ectoplasm – on the floor, walls, ceiling, curtains, and furniture.  Don’t worry; Eleanor Roosevelt had to clean up ectoplasm every morning before trudging off through the snow to school, and she turned out just fine.  Just remember the following guidelines and you’ll be right as rain.

 1. DO NOT TOUCH IT WITH YOUR BARE HANDS.  Some people can touch ectoplasm with no adverse effects; others will find it to be incredibly and painfully caustic.  You will never know if you are one of these people until it is too late.  Wear gloves, preferably the gloves worn by your paternal grandmother on her wedding day.  (Other gloves will probably work, in a pinch, but you have been warned.)

 2. A drop of vinegar on a paper towel usually does the trick; for more persistent stains, you may have to sacrifice a pig first.  (The proper technique for cleaning up pig blood and offal is too complex to get into here, but like most Americans you probably have experience with it anyway.)

 3. Sing, as loudly as possible, in as high a pitch as you can sustain, while cleaning – old folk songs, Bach cantatas, Victorian music hall tunes, anything to keep the ghost from returning to laugh at you and shout more unspeakable profanities.  Also, while cleaning up ectoplasm and singing (again, in a loud, high-pitched screech; this cannot be overstated), think pure thoughts.  Thoughts of a salacious, overly sexual, unusually violent or suicidal, or monstrously perverse nature may cause an unpleasant and terrifying reaction in the ectoplasm – bubbling, hissing, hypnotic quivering, and the like.  (Not to moralize, but thinking pure thoughts is generally a good idea anyway; it builds character and improves blood flow and digestion.  Eleanor Roosevelt developed her lifelong positive attitude, robust good health, and striking looks from her many hours spent avoiding the wrath of harshly-provoked ectoplasm.)  However, try as you might, there is still only so much you can do, so if the ectoplasm does begin to make any unusual movements or noises, try very hard not to look at it directly, lest you be greeted with sudden, unpleasant visions of your wasted childhood, broken dreams, and continued grotesque failure.  Indeed, it’s best not to look at it directly at all at any time, or at the very least only through a pane of smoked glass.  (Panes of smoked glass are usually available at your neighborhood glass-smoking plant.  Give them a call!  Glass-smokers are always happy to hear from the general public and are only too happy to assist you!)

 4. Disposal.  This is the tricky part.  All collected ectoplasm, as well as any soiled paper towels, pig’s bladders, gloves, pants, and shoes, must be sealed in a wooden crate and buried beneath the town courthouse on Walpurgis Night.  Call your local authorities to determine your community’s pickup times; my town, for example, sends a fleet of trucks around to pick up ectoplasm twice on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and four times on Saturdays, plus there is an eight-hour Ectoplasm Collection Fair and Ghost Education Seminar at the local rec center every Sunday.  Importantly, when the collection agent comes to your door, make sure to ask to see their identification badges and sashes.  We’ve all heard horror stories about scam artists, posing as ectoplasm collection professionals, who are really charlatans who sell the ectoplasm to sinister ghost-wranglers in Eastern Europe.  The last thing you want is to unwittingly aid such unsavory characters in their repugnant work.  Find a reputable professional, check their credentials, and dispose of your ectoplasm with confidence.

 5. After the ectoplasm has been removed from your house, be sure to eat a slice, maybe two slices of wedding cake (as a final precaution to keep the ghost at bay) and drink a snifter of brandy (to chase away any lingering upsetting visions).  Take a long hot bath, read a good book, go to bed early, and try to put whatever you have seen and heard out of your mind.  No one will ask, or think less of you.  The ectoplasm was not your fault, no matter what that ghost says.

 I hope you find these suggestions useful.  I have used these methods with much success in my own home, which, ironically, is haunted by the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt.  Oh, the filth that comes out of that woman’s mouth! – J. Frederick

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