paranormal stateI’ve been catching snippets of this new A&E television show Paranormal State. The show chronicles the investigations taken up by a number of paranormal enthusiasts and mediums. I’m not sure if I’ve seen enough of the show to actually know the thrust or structure of the show, but I have seen enough to get the idea that it mostly consists of adults holding flashlights up to their faces, sitting in a circle, and listening for weird noises and claiming to get chills.

“Do you smell that?” one of them will say. “I smell tobacco! There is a spirit here!”

It’s very similar to a fourth grade sleepover except that they have some sort of a thermal sensor, which seems to be a vague way to detect ghosts. I find it mildly interesting, although much less interesting than one of A&E’s other shows, Intervention, which I am ironically addicted to.

In any case, as I was lying in bed not sleeping last night, with the heavy footsteps of our upstairs neighbors above me and the sounds of boring, floral bedspread sex coming from our neighbors across the way, I realized that if a city apartment was actually ever haunted, no one would really notice.

Every time I hear weird sounds late at night, I immediately accredit them to any one of the weird families and couples that reside in our building or any one of the sketchy structural problems our apartment suffers from. If there were a ghost, who perhaps tried to freak me out by speaking in tongues through the wall, I’m just going to assume it’s the vaguely Eastern European family upstairs, talking in their sounds-like-Russian-but-definitely-isn’t-Russian language. If there were a ghost who tried to freak me out by making strange tapping and creaking noises, I wouldn’t be able to differentiate them from our crazy radiator noises. If there were a ghost who blew tobacco smoke into a room in order to alert me of his presence, I would probably just assume that our chain-smoking landlord was within a 50-yard radius of our building.

I love the image, though, of frustrated ignored ghosts trying so hard to haunt loud, rickety apartments to no avail. After a few years of fruitless attempts to scare the crap out of people, they would take up ghost checkers or ghost knitting. A few years after that, the murder they’re trying to avenge or the spooky message they are trying to relay would be forgotten. They would probably sit around and watch Paranormal State, too, and think about how easy those rural farmhouse ghosts have it.