I stumbled out of a movie theater in downtown Minneapolis on a bitterly cold night. I'd just seen The Exorcist with a friend. That movie terrified me. I was sixteen. Three years earlier at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a priest interrupted our music lessons to deliver an urgent message. Teenagers at a slumber party had recently held a seance, he said, and the devil jumped in and dragged one of the girls across the floor by her hair. He wasn't at liberty to share details, he said visibly shaken, but beware. Then, just as abruptly as he'd entered, he left to warn the next classroom.
Students sat in stunned silence. Every slumber party back then included pop, potato chips, and a seance. Spirit conjuring was so popular, I’d even been to an after-school-snacks-and-seance. A gaggle of girls sat in a darkened basement chanting a dead person’s name over and over until one girl screamed that she saw a ghost and then everyone screamed until the first girl laughed and said she was only kidding and we all agreed that we didn’t believe in ghosts anyway and then we ate Oreo cookies. After the visit from Father Foppe, we quietly gave up seances for games of Truth or Dare.
So suffice to say The Exorcist movie left this Catholic school girl freaked out. Even my friend, a sensible Lutheran, suggested we not talk about the movie until we got to the car. We scurried down the street. Suddenly, a bony hand clutched my shoulder and yanked me around with such force I stumbled and found myself face-to-face with a wrinkled, toothless, old, woman with filthy rags tied around her head, demanding money. I screamed and ran off without giving her a dime.
From memoir Overland with gif by @194angellstreet @ellowrites @ello @bread @ellocollaboration