You Do What You Can Do

What have I liked most about being a paranormal investigator for the past seventeen years? Oh, wow, that’s a tough one. Hey, I knew the date was going well, but I didn’t think we were going to get so personal, ha ha ha! That’s a little joke on my part, but seriously, to me, the joy of paranormal investigation has always been about the smudges. Every couple of years you see that special smudge in a time-lapse photo of a dark staircase or a shadowy bedroom, and it makes it all worth it. I and my peers get so excited about what the smudge might be---a restless ghost? A tortured soul who cannot lie still and is reaching out to us from the afterworld? Oh, there’s nothing quite like the excitement of a clear, well-defined smudge! Even when the smudge turns out to be an overexposure error or a thumbprint or an accident of the light, as it always has, the thrill of the “smudge moment,” as we call it in the field, simply cannot be equaled. What else have I liked about the life? Well, let’s see….I would say I’ve enjoyed the thousands of hours of silently videotaping empty rooms in the homes of complete strangers, or standing out in the cold and rain holding a boom microphone for hours over the grave of someone I never knew. Also, I’ve truly enjoyed working with so many different kinds of paranormal professionals, of which there are three kinds altogether: the painfully shy and secretive middle-aged man with dubious academic credentials, the fat Wiccan woman who lives with six cats and reads romance novels when she’s not claiming to hear spirits speaking to her, and the good old-fashioned outright scam artists who didn’t quite have the nerve to go into the pornographic film industry. Also fascinating too are the common folks who hire our team to investigate their domiciles, what with their heartbreakingly naïve belief in the afterlife and disturbing lack of formal education. We don’t see many fully stocked bookshelves in the homes we visit, no ma’am, ha ha ha! That too is a small joke. Oh, and I don’t want to forget the deep sense of satisfaction that’s come to me through never producing a single tangible piece of aural or visual data that can be considered remotely plausible evidence of a world beyond what we can touch and feel. And did I mention the silent disappointment on the faces of family and friends whenever I speak of what I do for a living? How about my inability to secure a normal job at a four-year university because of almost two decades of embarrassing misadventure in an utterly discredited area of research? You can’t put a price on any of it, really. But back to you, my dear. Let’s discuss your life now. Are you quite certain that you should be dating on Craigslist when you’re still married, involved in an already fierce campaign to seize the Democratic nomination for president, and surrounded by Secret Servicemen? Oh, I see….I understand. Then this is just for the one night, then. Well, I suppose that’s okay….um, yes, my apartment is relatively clean at the moment, though my roommate might---sure, we don’t have to talk to him, we can just go straight to the bedroom, that’s all right, I guess….here, if you’re going to pay for the hamburgers, let me at least pay for the milkshakes. Nobody makes them like Johnny Rockets, eh? Eh?