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Thanks for the (weird) Memories, Part I

It seems everyone has an arsenal of weird memories. The time that Pringle's lid disappeared without a trace, apparently into another dimension, because it was simply gone (my husband's story.) The time my friends and I watched a giraffe giving birth at the zoo from a loft inside the cage, surrounded by hay. Could that have been real? You know what I'm talking about—you probably have your own weird memories. There's nothing necessarily paranormal going on, but it might seem on the borderline.

Unlike paranormal or supernatural events, 'weird' is fairly unarguable, and often, weird events are just as compelling and seemingly impossible as the former two. However, at the heart of the weird event, there is probably a crucial missing link—something that beyond the grasp, comprehension, or knowledge of the experiencer.

For example, there is an old Unsolved Mysteries story called Backyard Bones. I remember watching this when it aired the first time around. Recently, I watched the episode on DVD, which included updates. Originally, the story went something more or less like this: the police receive an anonymous phone call telling them a missing woman is buried in her backyard.

They investigate, and find some animal bones, no human remains. The caller calls again, telling the police they didn't look hard enough, and directs them to a precise area of the yard. The police do find human bones this time--all over the place, even (grotesquely) in the barbeque grill. The problem is, none of the bones belong to the missing woman, and the bones are from many different people.

What a many-layered mystery, it would seem. What are the chances the backyard of a missing woman would contain bones of many people, yet not hers? Why would someone, presumably the killer, or someone with direct knowledge of the murder make a phone call—directing the police not to the remains of the missing woman as claimed, but to the unknown bones? Really, any scenario you can think of kind of cancels itself out as improbable or extremely coincidental. Yet, the weird incident exists.

The extras in the new DVD contained the missing piece of information, and it's pretty simple. When the original episode aired, DNA testing was not as precise, and it turns out that with new forensic work, the bones belonged to one person after all—the missing woman. Mystery solved.

A while ago, on my blog, I recounted a strange incident that my husband, son and I experienced at Lake Mead, near Las Vegas. Here is what I wrote:

In March, 2003, Steve, Tierney and I road-tripped down to Vegas for a couple nights, meeting up with some Salt Lake friends traveling to LA. After they left, we felt like getting away from Vegas for a while, and drove out to nearby Lake Mead to do the touristy Hoover Dam thing with my son.

…driving through the canyon, we spied something seemingly impossible. Tethered to the guardrail alongside the road, was a helicopter in the air. The blades were going, and it looked otherwise "normal" other than the regular, plain rope holding it in a fixed position, and the fact that there was no one in the helicopter.

We slowed down a bit, after the bizarreness really struck us, just to see if we could put it in some kind of context or plausible story. There were no film crew or film trucks in sight…no people around at all, no signage, absolutely nothing. We continued our trip, making small talk about the weird experience, then just letting it go.

I figured an explanation would be found by searching around on the internet, or asking a friend, who is the head photographer/videographer for KSL TV, a local Salt Lake station. He knows a lot about helicopters; part of his job is spending lots of time in the news helicopter. I figured if this had something to do with filming, he'd know about it. But, he thought it was the most bizarre thing he'd ever heard.

I'm convinced there is a missing piece of information to this story, although we may never find out what it is.

I posted several other weird incidents and memories, and invited others to do so as well. The replies contained some great stories. Some seem to be strange coincidences, some are probably remembered not-exactly-right (I have several of those myself, which I'm sure is the key to the weirdness,) some probably just lack that key, explanatory piece of information. Note too, some of the stories contain symbols and archetypes often associated with Mystery and the otherworld (even mine, with the helicopter.) Below are some of the stories.

From anonymous:

Back in the mid 1980s I worked at the University of Kentucky. One morning I was driving in to work, and noticed a young man standing on a street corner, waiting to cross the street. His head was the same size and shape as an old-fashioned manual typewriter; it looked literally as if the skin of his head had been stretched over a typewriter. I know I wasn't imagining this--I drove within 15 feet of him and got a very good look at him, both in frontal and profile view.

From Jamie:

When I was a fifteen, a sophomore in high school…my name was called over the intercom for me (and many others) to pick up things in the office during lunch. So I went in and the lady hands me a plastic bag full of hard boiled eggs, and they were peeled off the shell.

Now, of course I was wondering what the heck was going on so I asked the lady if she was sure they were for me and she said yes (I didn't ask for any information about who dropped it off which still bugs me to this day) and I told my friends and they laughed about it. I never ate them and because there were a few other Jamie's in the school I asked if maybe it was one of theirs. They all told me no.

And finally, Radio Pie writes,

My family once had a cottage in the Muskoka area of Ontario…I remember one time, around 10 pm on a winter evening,…my mom, grandma and maybe a few uncles were sitting on the front porch of the cottage, that overlooked a lake. Across the lake, I could see a light moving across the sky.

It was acting strangely - kind of like the way the [ping] pong ball looks as it is batted between the two paddles…The light was "bouncing" back and forth across the sky at a moderate speed…I pointed it out to everyone, and we watched it for a while. Of course, the word 'UFO' came up, but for some reason, we had decided it was a blimp.

…All of a sudden, as we were all staring at this light, a giant cartoon spider fell from the top balcony down to the porch where we were sitting. I think it landed on my grandma. We all started screaming, and then we noticed that the "cartoon spider" was actually a beach towel. But, I honestly and clearly remember getting a good look at it as it was falling, and it looked just like a black cartoon spider - complete with googly eyes. It's not even like the beach towel was black or anything. It was white.

Also, what were we doing with a beach towel on the balcony in the middle of winter? We'd hang our wet towels up on the upper balcony to dry during the summer, and I know it was winter because I was wearing my snowsuit that day. Out of nowhere, we all seemed to forget about the mysterious light across the lake, and went inside to watch TV.

Next Medusa's Ladder, I will continue with more weird memories. In the meantime, feel free to stop by my blog (or email me) and tell your own weird story.


Photo: Spider crawling on the moon by DanieVDM via flickr

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