I've received several great "weird memory" stories since my column was published two weeks ago. Not necessarily paranormal, yet not easily explained, and certainly not mundane, stories like these seem to be quite common to our human experience. My personal idea is that there is a missing key piece of information in most of these stories: something that would probably explain the weirdness entirely.
Extending that further, I would propose that missing information is the key to all inexplicable phenomena, including UFOs, ghosts, and the paranormal in general. Likewise, I would even say that missing information is the key to explain coincidences and synchronicities. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that an ultimate explanation would be mundane—perhaps quite the opposite of mundane, in fact.
Below are some of the weird memories for your perusal.
E.L. Ford writes:
I was probably ten years old and staying at my grandma's, which I did while my mom was at work. My grandma opened her front closet door (which opened opposite the front door of the house in her living room) and shook out a jacket she was going to put on to go outside. The front door was open a bit, and the screen did not meet the bottom of the door exactly, so there was a space.
As she shook out the jacket, out of the pocket fell this gold lizard. I am not talking yellow--it was gold--shiny, like it was made of brass or actual gold. The lizard took off underneath the screen door as fast as it could go, and my grandma and I looked at each other like, did we just see that? Nothing was ever said*, I haven't ever told anyone that, because I am still not sure what I saw!!
Charlotte Corday writes:
When I was six (1956-57), we lived in Medellin, Colombia, where my daddy worked as a helicopter pilot for the United Fruit Company, spraying vast banana plantation crops…To entertain me (as daddies do,) he held up his hand, bent his wrist, and used his other hand to turn his hand around. ALL the way around! Repeatedly! Like turning a screw! I SAW him do this.
I kept saying, "How do you do that? How can you do it?", and trying to do it myself with my hand, then with his hand. I couldn't duplicate it. Every time I failed and gave up, Daddy showed me again: he bent his wrist and used his right hand to turn his left hand all the way around, and around and around, just like the girl in The Exorcist spinning her head around, only better. I swear he did it.
Years later, I asked him about it, and he didn't know what I was talking about. He only remembers turning his hand back and forth. But if that's all it was, why did he show me that? That's not special. That's not something to entertain a kid with. Why was I so sure of what I was seeing? I knew he was doing something impossible. It's not as if being only six, I believed it was possible to do that.
When they were about ten years old two cousins of mine (who were also cousins to each other, not sisters) were in the basement of the first cousin's house. The rest of the family was over at the second cousin's house for a family reunion. They lived on farms abutted to one another--with the houses about a 1/4 mile away. They were playing with Barbies when suddenly from the top of the basement stairs they heard a loud voice calling their names. "Go find your mother!" the voice shouted.
Frightened, they ran up the stairs and straight to the second cousin's house. There was no one at the top of the stairs, nor anyone around the house. To this day they have no explanation of this event.
In the 70s, I was watching the show Project UFO on the floor of the basement at my parents' house while my dad sat on a chair behind me reading something. The show ended and I stood up and turned around to speak with my dad.
Behind the chair my father was seated in, was a set of floor-to-ceiling windows and a sliding glass door. As I approached him, I looked out the windows and saw a bright blue-white light fall from the height of my vision to below the horizon line. The light seemed to fall in a straight line and was about the size of a star viewed in the night sky.
Of course I had just seen a "ufo" and I went off about it. My father, being a rational person, assumed immediately that I was seeing things induced by watching a show about ufo's. He didn't believe me, (I was crushed) and told me that it was time for me to get ready for bed and to forget about watching the show next week since I was now "obviously" seeing things.
The missing piece of the puzzle came in the morning when I got up for breakfast. My dad was in the kitchen holding that morning's newspaper and smiling at me. He said: "You're off the hook; you may watch your show again next week." The article he had just read in the paper told him that at about the time my show ended a meteorite had indeed fallen from the sky North of Topeka near a town called Silver Lake. Timing, is as they say everything.
The above story is obviously falls under the category of coincidence. I'll close with my one of my own that fits into this category as well.
A couple years after high school, I was looking for a part time job. One of my mother's friends told me her daughter was leaving her position as a studio photographer's assistant, and she would set up an interview for me. I arrived at the studio, and filled out an application.
The secretary was outrageous—a stereotypical "airhead" type of character, almost to the point of seeming unreal—as if she were acting. Even her clothes were crazy and exaggerated—almost like she was just trying to look like a nutty secretary. She spoke very loudly and laughed constantly, while talking with the other patrons, or whoever was there. It was as if she was trying to make a scene, or get a reaction. Before anything strange even took place, I had that "are we on Candid Camera" type of feelings. Or the feeling there was "more" going on that it would seem.
After a while, she begins rustling around with some papers, and calls out "Melanie Hawks!" I wasn't sure what to do; Melanie Hawks is my sister's name. I didn't want to feel like a jerk because I was at a job interview. So—I kind of just waited to see if anyone would respond, and when it was obvious she was calling me, I approached her. "I think you might be calling me—my name is Richelle Hawks. Melanie Hawks is my sister." She looked back at the application, like she couldn't understand why I would be mentioning my sister, shook her head, and said, "Yes, Richelle Hawks," as if that is what she had called out. I was stunned.
Mel was going to college 1000 miles away, and had no affiliation with the studio, nor did my mother's friend know her. My sister's name was not on the application anywhere—not as a reference or contact, or anything.
I can't imagine what the missing information in this story might be. Could I have simply misheard the secretary? Could she have at some point, read my sister's name, associated it with our last name, and unknowingly, or unconsciously have stated it instead of mine? Perhaps she had a daughter or friend with that name—but why, when I told her M____ was my sister's name, did she not explain her strange mistake? Or, what is most likely—is this just a very bizarre, highly unlikely coincidence with meaning (or not) that will probably forever be elusive? It haunts me.
* A note: In reading a lot of these type of stories, I am struck by how often such odd things include a comment such as in this one, "Nothing was ever said…" I even had a similar experience with our Lake Mead helicopter incident. It seemed to be our first inclination to dismiss it—and perhaps because Steve and I are so familiar with the paranormal, it seemed like we had to almost force ourselves to discuss it. I honestly can't believe we didn't pull the car over to investigate a bit.
Could it be that at the root of any inexplicable, nonsensical experience, that it is our nature, out of self preservation, to just let go of anything that is ultimately elusive? Our rational mind taking over and burying what doesn't fit, or cannot (or does not need to be) known? Our irrational, emotional minds likewise dwelling on such things privately, creating explanations, meditating on paradoxes, conundrums, not caring if it "matters" or not….