Did Someone Die In Here?

You can never be sure if you are alone in your hotel room.  These days, I always ask when I check in if anyone died in my room.  They always lie, of course.  The truth is, someone probably has died in their hotel.  Lots of people die in hotel rooms every day but it’s not something they advertise.

That hotel in Sydney was the worst.  I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night when all the lights in the bedroom and bathroom came on at the same time.  I called down to the front desk, as anyone would, and the man said I must have done it myself in my sleep.  I told him that wasn’t likely as I don’t sleepwalk and also there was an apparition dressed all in black in my bathroom singing Only the Lonely.

The interesting thing is that people don’t check into a hotel if they are actually dying.  They prefer to be in more familiar surroundings when they surrender to the grim reaper.  However, people do check into hotels to kill themselves because you can hang up the Do Not Disturb notice and be sure of no interruptions as you make your untimely exit, trying not to make a mess of the bed sheets.

Statistically, most people who die in hotel rooms experience an unexpected death.  This will almost certainly send their souls into Purgatory while they await the Final Judgment.  During this time (which could take weeks of anxious prayers if there is any doubt about their ultimate destination), they will wander aimlessly around your bedroom wondering what you are doing sitting on their bed in your underpants eating extra spicy chicken wings with blue cheese dip.

And on that subject, you should be careful what you choose from the room service menu because if you choke on a chicken bone there will be no one there to save you.  Except possibly that guy in the bathroom when he’s finished singing Only the Lonely.

I Think I Erased You

I am now meeting people I know, only to find that I have erased their names and entire personalities from my conscious memory.  It is only a prominent mole, a facial tick or a crooked nose that makes me realize that I do indeed know this person but have no recollection of how.

I am failing to recognize people I know on an increasingly regular basis.  I think this is a defensive mechanism and it is the antithesis of recognizing strangers.

It all comes back to a simple issue.  Our brains were developed in a village and the most people we could ever expect to know was one hundred.  As a consequence, we have a limited capacity for remembering people.  If a stranger came into the village, we would have to quickly get to know him to determine if he was a friend or foe and if he was staying.  But if we want to remember someone new, then someone else has to be erased.  I meet a lot of people so I think I have unconsciously developed a technique for erasing people without me even knowing it.  It’s not personal.

My previous strategy of deliberately ignoring everyone, whether I know them or not, has not worked.  My family and close friends found it too distressing.  I explained my theory and they presented me with an alternative thought: that I am becoming senile and should accept that things will only get worse.

So I should write my will now, while I am of sound mind and body.  And before I erase the people I love from my memory.

John Belushi is Dead

I am determined not to recognize any more strangers.  After that embarrassing incident with Eminem on the plane to New York, I have seen Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp and Justin Bieber (in a toilet).  This is getting ridiculous.

Then the worst thing happened.  I saw John Belushi.  This means I have recognized a stranger to be a famous person I have not met, who was not him, and who is actually dead.  In fact, John Belushi died in 1982, so he’s not even a recently dead person.  He therefore could not have been in McDonalds ordering a quarter-pounder with cheese and a coke.

Our brains do not cope well with the enormous scale of humanity that surrounds us.  Nor were we expected to travel to such horrendously distant places that we have no hope of seeing anyone we know.  Our brains expect us to be in a village of no more than a hundred people and therefore recognize everyone we meet.  I’ve noticed that the longer I go between seeing people I actually know, the more I recognize total strangers.

I am determined now to recognize no one at all.  Please do not be offended, therefore, if I know you and ignore you.  It’s for my own sanity.  It’s me, not you.

Famous Strangers

I was heading to the toilet on my flight from Bermuda to New York when I saw Eminem.  He was way in the back of the plane in-between two women.  He didn’t look very happy.  Of course, I realized soon enough it wasn’t Eminem.  I’m sure he travels in a private jet and would not be mixing with the general hoi-polloi on United Airlines.  And I know he wouldn’t be sitting in a middle seat.  So this means I have recognized a stranger to be someone I know but have not met who is not him.

I am very disturbed by this latest development.  Recognizing someone famous I have never actually met is just a waste of emotion.  All of that sudden rush of adrenaline at finding yourself face-to-face with someone you have admired and seen in movies and YouTube and listened to all his music and trying to think of something intriguing or mysterious to say instead of stuttering, “Aren’t you, er, you know, Marshall Mathers?”

And he would reply, “Just lettin’ you know that you’re not alone.”

Only to find out that he’s just another stranger.  But at least I know his real name.

Living With Ghosts

I lived as a boy in a haunted family, in a haunted house on a haunted street.  My Mum never believed in ghosts. That’s why she turned out all the lights when she put me to bed at night.  Some of those ghosts still live with me, inside my head.  They come to haunt me every day.

Do you believe in ghosts?  I have one who lives right behind me.  I used to think he was my shadow but then he’s much taller than me.  I catch a glimpse of him in the corner of my eye and he stays there just long enough to prove he’s real.  And another one hides inside the walls and cracks his knuckles like giant walnuts in the middle of the night.

That’s why I hate hotel rooms.  You never know if someone died in your room.  Right there in your bed.  And when you check-in, it’s not as if they say, “Oh, that’s the room where that poor man died on the toilet.  You’re not afraid of ghosts are you?”  And then you wake up in the middle of the night and there’s a man dressed all in black in your hotel bathroom and you call the front desk to complain.  They just hoped you weren’t psychic or have a sixth sense when they put you in that room.  Well, they were wrong.

If you want to know from the grand master of ghost stories, Stephen King, then this is what he said:

Monsters are real and ghosts are real too.  They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.

You are not alone.  So don’t let the ghosts win.  Especially the ones inside your head.

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