Columnist

Mike Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and published author. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

I have a complicated relationship with ghosts. I am skeptical, but I’ve also had a few personal experiences in my life that are hard to explain.

Many of you have read my story about seeing my dead aunt at my cousin’s wedding (see “Below Average Genius”), but that wasn’t my only spectral encounter.

Years ago, I was on my bed in a melancholy mood when I felt someone sit down next to me. Someone invisible. It was oddly comforting as if someone appeared to cheer me up. I was convinced I got a visit from my guardian angel or grandmother. Eerily, a half-moon indentation formed on the side of the bed, as if someone was sitting there.

The Ghost Butt Incident.

It sounds ridiculous, but it felt real at the time.

While I was in New Orleans, I went on the Ghost Tour. Even though I’ve had some spooky encounters, I didn’t take the Ghost Tour seriously. I thought it would be funny, fodder for some future column (like this one right now).

The tour wasn’t really about spirits who roamed the earth. It was more about historically horrible people doing bad stuff. It was like walking around and listening to a bunch of true crime podcasts all at once.

Murderers will always be scarier than ghosts. I’d rather meet a ghost than a murderer any time. Theoretically, you could meet many ghosts, but you’d probably only meet one murderer. Chances are you might not survive meeting a murderer – unless he’s really bad at it.

Side note: A murderer isn’t a murderer until they’ve murdered. Murderers aren’t like novelists. You can call yourself a writer even if you’ve never been published, but if you’re a murderer, there better be a dead body.

But I digress, like I do. New Orleans was founded by killers, thieves and pirates, and hearing about their malevolent deeds started to spook me. When the tour ended, I had to split off from my group to meet a friend. I plugged the directions into my phone and off I went. I followed my iPhone down a dark alley. It wasn’t the smartest thing, but I did it. A derelict shuffled toward me. He moaned and grunted at me. When I walked past him, he turned and started following me.

I started moving faster. He started moving faster. I ran. He ran. I ducked into a bar and hid in a crowd of drunks during a Dolly Parton sing-a-long. It took a few minutes before I could calm down. Singing “Nine to Five” and drinking a mojito soothed my jangled nerves (the other spirits in this story).

I wasn’t frightened because some homeless dude chased me down the street. I was terrified, because – for a brief moment – I thought I was being chased by a zombie.

That Ghost Tour really got into my head. I’m home now, but I’m hoping I didn’t take any ectoplasmic guests back with me. I am afraid of ghost hitchhikers.

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