The Ghost Who Snuggled With Me

Can a ghost story be funny?  Over the years I’ve had my share of the typical scary encounters that many people write and speak about.  My father had a very nice encounter that perplexed him until the day he died.  In 2008, my wife and I moved into a townhouse that would occasionally produce unexplainable occurrences.  So of course, I will now try to explain one of those occurrences during our four years at this location.

To be clear, my wife has had at least one experience with ghosts, but at the townhouse, she claimed that she never had any strange happenings while being there.  Me?  I had a few dozen bizarre tricks being played on me there, and they all happened during DAYLIGHT hours, when I was home alone.  I know–how convenient.

In my forty-one years I’ve lived in six different locations and the townhouse was the only living space that produced paranormal activity.  The place wasn’t that old (it was built in 1971), but the structure acted as if it had a storied history where people had a tendency to “stay” even though they “left”.  Most of the hauntings were enough to spook me but not in a mean-spirited manner of behavior.  Huge swings in temperature, lights flickering on and off (while other parts of the house were fine), a woman talking (usually one word but distinctively within the walls of the house) and the feeling of being watched were occasionally observed or felt.  The most severe of the incidents happened in 2009, about eighteen months in to our time at the house.

My wife has always worked a typical daylight job since we’ve been together, but I have not.  At the end of 2009 I was working a 4 p.m. to midnight shift and I didn’t see my wife that often (Some men would call this paradise.  I’m kidding.  Really.).  I would be home alone each morning, but I would usually sleep throughout the morning and into the early afternoon.  The sunlight coming through the windows didn’t bother me and we didn’t have a cat yet to wake me out of a deep sleep just so they could put their ass in my face.  Sleep was abundant, peaceful and sometimes, unnerving.

Around 10 a.m. one morning, I woke up, but I didn’t get out of bed right away.  Once I saw the time I knew I had a few more hours of sleep to get in before heading off to work.  Eventually I drifted back to sleep, and the next thing I remembered seemed like a dream.  I remember my eyes remained closed, my arm was draped over what seemed to be a woman’s body in the middle of the bed, her hair in my face and the smell of perfume.  Not old lady perfume but a sweet, light, flowery fragrance.  By the contour of the body and the scents I encountered, it felt like there really was a woman in bed with me.  A slender, sophisticated girl was spooning with me into the late morning at the house.  Eventually I became more conscious of the situation, but I was afraid to open my eyes.  At this point I knew I was awake and I felt someone/something was spooning with me in bed.  Eyes still closed, I lifted myself up, knelt upon the mattress, and opened my eyes–I couldn’t believe what I saw.

In bed, next to the location of where I was sleeping, there was an indentation in the mattress.  There was no person there, but the mattress provided a perfect outline of a female’s body snuggled up right next to where I was lying in bed.  The smell of perfume still resonated through the room and it wasn’t anything my wife would wear.  She wears “Chance” by Chanel and that’s a smell I’ve been around since we started dating in 2004.  Even though I was frightened, I was at the same time flattered by the experience.  Instead of screaming out and trying to banish what I couldn’t understand, I thanked it.  I’m convinced it was a woman, and I thanked her for appearing to me in a loving manner.  I believed she liked being around me and I told her she can stay in the house.  But I also told her that spooning with me scared me, and that I now know she was there in the house–there was no reason to manifest into a form anymore.

In the remaining 2 1/2 years we lived there, I never had another ghost snuggle with me and the hauntings went back to the milder fare I became accustomed to.  Often I thanked the ghost for letting us co-exist with her while we occupied that particular space in time.  I’m sure one day I’ll find out who she was when I have the opportunity to walk through the invisible veil amongst us and into another dimension.

Unless she met someone else…probably moved to Maryland or somewhere further south.

 

 

 

Trixie: A moment of romance in an unlikely place

I assure you this tale is a clean one, but the location of where this story unfolded was not.

In the mid-2000’s I was finishing up my undergraduate degree at the age of 28.  I worked full-time while going to school, so many semesters were one or two part-time classes at night.  When I got to my senior year, I took more daylight classes and was easily the oldest student among all of my traditional college-age classmates.  I wasn’t dating anyone at the time, mostly because schoolwork enveloped all of my free time and the 20 to 23 year-old women I attended class with wanted nothing to do with my “old man student” self.  Everybody was friendly and I got along with everybody at school, but it was amazing how five or six years of age difference–even in my twenties still provided a huge cultural gap.

During Saint Patrick’s Day weekend my senior year, a few friends I grew up with asked me to head down to Pittsburgh to drink with them and just be Irish for a day (I’m 100% Polish decent).  I agreed to meet them in the early afternoon on the South Side just after the parade traffic let out (To this day, Pittsburgh has the second-largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the United States, only behind Boston).  We met at one of our favorite taverns and proceeded to hop around to different establishments to check out the wonderful debauchery at each location.  I managed to pick up a green hat and some beads from a few sponsored parties, so after a few hours I fit the description of a typical reveler on March 17 in America: Drunk, Irish and wearing costume jewelry.  If I remember right, my hat had a Labatt’s logo on it.  That’s right, a Canadian brewery putting their name on green hats for Saint Patrick’s Day.  Awesome.

We eventually encountered a large gathering complete with outdoor stage, portable toilets, beer, food and LONG lines at the “porta-potties”.  The atmosphere was awesome, but after drinking a half-dozen beers in under two hours, I had to piss really bad.  Knowing the South Side well, I knew there were a few big restaurants and bars not far from the party in the parking lot.  They had no cover charge to get in, assuming they wanted to attract people to their establishments since the street party was taking away potential business.  I walked alone over to one of the restaurants with the plan of having a beer there in case they wanted rouge pissers like myself to patronize the place (Since people like me were running up their water bill).

I entered the restaurant and immediately stand in line for the men’s restroom.  The men’s line was only a few men outside of the door.  The women’s line was another story.  There must have been twenty women waiting just to get inside the restroom.  When I was the third or fourth guy waiting to get in the men’s room, a group of women jumped into the men’s room line and asked me and another guy if they could go in with us.  We had a good laugh about it and agreed to the proposal.  At that point I looked at the other women behind the one I was talking to.  One of the girls was “Trixie”.

Trixie went to college with me.  She studied under the same major as me, had multiple classes with me and barely spoke ten words to me at school.  It’s not that we didn’t get along, it was that we had nothing in common.  She was five years younger than me, athletic and from another part of the country.  We entered the restroom and I took a piss right in front of her and her friends while we continued to talk.  I washed my hands to just get out of their way so the girls had space to duck into the stalls.  I can’t remember which person first struck up the conversation, but I do remember it was basic.  I asked her how life was after graduating and she mentioned she was in town to party with her friends from college.  We were both laughing at each others’ festive attire when something changed.

I don’t know what spurred our next action, but right before Trixie was to enter the one stall, we faced each other, put our hands around our waists and we passionately kissed.  My emotions were everywhere for a split-second.  I could hear the few random guys in the restroom playfully hollering at us, then I remember her friends reacting in shock with the sound of gasps and laughter at the sight of us.  A few seconds later, I heard nothing.  It was as if my mind blocked out every outside influence and quenched every single second of my uh, romantic moment with Trixie.

Right after our kiss was over, I said, uh, um–I can’t remember what I said to Trixie!  I don’t know if I said something off putting to her or if her friends pulled her away from me (Maybe Trixie had a boyfriend?), but the next thing I remembered was walking back to the outdoor party to find my friends.  I didn’t tell them what happened because I felt they wouldn’t believe that I kissed a girl in a crowded men’s restroom.

I never saw or talked to Trixie again.  If I said something terrible to her that day she didn’t deserve it.  She was a nice girl and I’m sure she’s doing just fine with whatever she is doing these days.  Trixie and I created no memories of us at college to reflect upon, but we shared an unforgettable, spontaneous experience in the most unlikeliest of places…unless she was too drunk to remember.

October 1997: The Party At “Slim’s House”

Nineteen years ago this month I arguably had the strangest house party experience of my life and it had nothing to do with sex, drugs, beer, fire or some form of property damage.

There was this guy my friend Amy occasionally hung out with and my circle of friends knew him because he would occasionally pop in when my group would go out drinking.  I’ll call him “Slim” for this story.  Slim was a fat schmo who was arrogant, condescending, sloppy, cheap and a consistent jerk for no good reason.  I still remember Slim going out for chicken wings with us and always ordering french fries with a water.  I’m a “go big or go home” type of person when going out for food and drinks, so I thought he was an asshole just based on his food order.  I was never the sucker who would buy Slim a beer.

My friend Dave and I worked with Amy and she told us that we were invited to go a party at Slim’s house.  Apparently Slim had a new house and my cynical self was telling me that Slim wanted to show off his bachelor pad to EVERYBODY HE COULD because he wanted everyone to know who was boss even though he looked like total garbage.  How ironic.  Even though Dave and I couldn’t stand Slim, we agreed to make an appearance out of pure curiosity.  At least Slim would serve all the french fries and water we could eat and drink.

The party took place on a Friday night in mid-October.  I drove with Dave in his car and we got to Slim’s about an hour after the party started.  When we got inside we saw Amy, Slim, a few other friends of ours and about fifteen other people that I didn’t know.  The home was built in the 1950’s, a typical small suburban ranch house like many that were carved out in Pittsburgh’s south hills post World War II.  It was a good size for Slim but it was very small to house a family in.  The strange part about Slim’s house was the decor.  I didn’t ask, but most of the furniture was old.  Not retro chic old but 1970’s tacky old.  I assumed the furniture came with the sale of the house, so I grabbed a beer and hung out with Dave, Amy, Jill (from the “Rocker Girl” tale) and Jill’s boyfriend Jerry (whaa whaaaah).

About thirty minutes in, Dave and I overheard a conversation from a few guys that were coming up from the basement.  Apparently the basement was finished with a large television down there, and Slim had a Sony Playstation hooked up to it.  Some of the guys were taking turns playing Madden 98, which was and still is the best American football video game franchise produced.  Becoming bored with the conversations upstairs, we ducked out and descended the stairs to see if we could play a game against each other.

The room was simple but nice, with plenty of seating and good lighting.  There were four college age guys sitting around, two playing the game and two watching the game play.  Since the 1998 version was fairly new, Dave and I wanted to view the game even if we killed the vibe in the room.  Usually when guys get together to play video games everybody is loud and throwing snacks at each other.  These guys were quiet and calm while we sat around with them.

After the game was complete, we were asked by the four guys if we wanted to play since they were all heading back upstairs.  We agreed to take over the game and decided to play the longest amount of minutes per quarter since we were anticipating a few more people wanting a turn.  We wanted to get our thirty to forty minutes in and be done with it for the night.

About forty minutes later Dave and I completed our game, but there was nobody waiting to use the game console.  Having lost faith in the atmosphere upstairs at Slim’s, Dave and I fired up another game.  An hour (and a few beers) later, we apparently started to make a noticeable amount of noise.  In our eyes, Dave and I were just being typical twenty-one year old’s playing video games.  Slim came downstairs to see what the commotion was about.

“GUYS!  I don’t care if you play down here, but you have to be quiet.”

Dave and I looked at each other, confused.  I spoke up.

“Slim, what’s the big deal?  We’re just down here by ourselves playing Madden.  Why does anyone upstairs care about how much noise we are making down here?”

“Because my grandmother is sleeping in the other room.”  Slim points at a door on the other side of the basement.

Dave and I looked at each other again.  Dave had this look of both confusion and amazement  while I could not wipe the smirk off of my face.  I tactfully replied for the both of us.

“Oh, okay Slim.  Sorry, we didn’t know she was there.”

Slim went back upstairs, and we immediately started laughing uncontrollably.  Of course, we were laughing uncontrollably QUIET.  We finished our second game and went back upstairs.  We wanted to share the hilarious news that Slim’s grandma was sleeping in the basement, that it wasn’t Slim’s house and the party was lame, but we didn’t say anything to our friends until the next day.  Me, Dave and some twenty-five other people went to a house party…at Slim’s grandmother’s house.

So the revelation of Slim’s grandmother holed up in the basement confirmed why all of the old furniture looked like something my grandparents would have owned, why those four guys were acting so reserved in the basement and that Slim was indeed a poser.  He made it sound like the house was his, and we discovered the truth when we played drunken video games in his grandma’s basement.  I mean WHO THROWS A HOUSE PARTY IN THEIR GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE!?!?!  Slim does.

Dave and I left the party pretty quick after our conversation with Slim.  We went to a local bar where a lot of jolly older guys hung out and told tall tales and laughed at each other for hours.  On this night we had our tall tale to share with them, and we didn’t disappoint them.  They never heard of anybody doing what Slim pulled that night.

 

 

Sending E-mails To My Late Father

A few years back, my father suddenly passed away.  Compared to other father/son relationships we had a typical bond but we were certainly two completely different minded individuals.  Despite this slight disconnect and as I found out later a lack of transparency, Dad and I always had great conversations about the day-to-day activities in our lives.  In those moments, Dad gave me great advice and peace of mind even though he struggled finding his own peace of mind for most of his life.

In the first year after his death, I often found myself talking out loud to Dad about many different events that occurred in my life since I lost him.  I found it very therapeutic when I sought his advice even though I knew I wasn’t going to receive a straightforward answer from beyond.

Shortly after Dad died, my wife gave birth to our son, which would have been his first grandchild.  I always brought my son up in the conversations with the air around me, hoping somehow that Dad could listen to what I was saying.  Life became busier and tiresome when constantly attending to a newborn baby, so my conversations aimed at Dad waned.

Two years ago this month on the day which would have been his 71st birthday, I decided to send an e-mail to Dad’s old America Online account.  I loved how he hung on to that account years after we all had those ubiquitous AOL addresses in the middle of the 1990’s.  With an e-mail address like that one would think Dad had no idea how to transition into the digital age.  He shall not be judged; Dad was a “Napster Master” at the age of 56 and later in life he loved his fantasy football online.  Dad drove my mom nuts with his hours of roster moves every week during the NFL season.

In the e-mail I talked about how I love my family, that I was proud to be his son and a few personal family details that Dad and I could only have a conversation about.  When I sent the e-mail, I could still hear his voice offering advice on the phone or when I used to visit home more often.  It turned out the e-mail address was still active because I did not get a delivery failure message.  I’d like to think he still checked his e-mail somewhere close to my presence.

Since that first e-mail I’ve sent four more in the last two years.  They’ve all kicked back to me so it seems Dad’s AOL account has been taken off of the grid.  Unless ALL of AOL is off of the grid!  But it doesn’t matter to me if Dad can’t read the messages I intended for him, what’s important to me is the peace I get in composing those e-mails.  Collecting my thoughts and sending them to Dad remind me of the nights we talked in my bedroom about the challenges of growing up while watching the old 12:30 Late Night With David Letterman show on NBC.  They remind me of the phone conversations we had when I first moved out on my own.  They remind me of the time when he found out he was going to be a grandfather.  Tangible words on the screen that I would have said to Dad in person.  Words that were fading from my consciousness due to a lack of sleep, an increase in children’s television viewing and the inability to simply find time to relax.

I miss Dad, but I was blessed to have him in my life all of these years.  Occasionally I will get a hint that Dad is watching me from afar but at the same time close by.  Other times I don’t.  I assume he’s downloading free music somewhere when he’s not around.  Pretty soon I’ll send him another e-mail since his grandson is going to turn 3 in less than a month.  I’ll talk about a variety of topics and ask him a few questions about the problems I’m facing in 2016.

If I don’t get a reply to my questions I understand.  It’s the start of fantasy football season.

Rockin’ The Dad Bod

When I’m in blog land or jumping on Twitter (Facebook free since 2013!), I find it humorous when I hear a parent complaining that they cannot find time to lift weights, run, do yoga, etc.  It’s not because I’m a hater, it’s because it sounds like the parents I speak of are going to transform into a slob overnight if they can’t find time to do what they want.  Those darn kids, they can really take up your free time!

Holy crap people.  Having kids means sacrifice.  Well, it’s supposed to anyway.  My wife and I both work during the day so when we have our son in the evening, we enjoy spending those four to five hours each day with him.  Even if he throws tantrums.  Even if he throws blocks at my head.  We take turns getting daily chores done, but we are always falling behind on a few tasks.  It’s not because we have a ton of things to do, it is because we would rather sit on the couch and read a book with our son.  I sit on the floor so much with my son I find myself sitting on the floor when I’m alone watching television.  We have fun with him and he has fun with us.  We are both there for him as much as life allows.

Before this post turns into an annoying rant, I’ll pump the brakes and have some fun regarding the first two paragraphs.  I’ll recall a moment in time when my wife and I were a couple, then compare that moment to a current situation now that we are a family.  Here I go:

August 2011 – My wife and I played tennis two or three nights a week.

August 2016 – My wife and I are weak from playing with our son two to three hours a night.

All of 2012 – I would lift weights in the basement using my new bench that my wife bought for me.

All of 2016 – My wife bought many things for our son in 2015 and stacked many items on top of my weight bench.  I think I can see it down there again since I moved some boxes from that area of the basement.

Most of 2012 – I would run around our neighborhood three to four nights during the warmer months.  Nothing crazy, about 10-15 miles per week.

Most of 2016 – I run around our yard with my son three to four nights a week during the warmer months.  It’s crazy, he’ll circle the house 10-15 times per night.

As I mentioned in some of my other posts, my wife makes the money and I find work that fits into our schedule.  I don’t make much money, but I rarely work weekends.  I don’t have a prestigious title at my job, but my job allows me to see my family every day.  In my first year of employment at my new job, I’ll have 21 paid days off.  In America, many people can work 20 years or more at a company and not get 21 paid days off.  These days with a young son growing up before my eyes, I’ll take time over money.

When my son gets older, I’ll work myself back into a decent looking shape.  I look forward to turning my man boobs back into fresh elderly pecs.  I know my abs are still in there somewhere, but I have more important responsibilities to attend to right now.  I’ll find my abs in 2021 or 2022.

When I was under age 25 I was chasing my dreams.  Between 25 and 34, I was chasing a career.  From 34 to 39, I was chasing the money.  Now at 40, I’m chasing my son.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Glance: An unexpected source of compassion

In late 1997 I decided one night to drive across town to drop in on my girlfriend at the time, the aforementioned “Peach”.  Peach was working an 11-8 shift at a local restaurant where she was a hostess.  At this time she started her sophomore year of college, and it seemed she was taking less interest in me.  She claimed she was just busy with work and school, and I didn’t question her reasons for ignoring me during the end of the fall semester.

When I arrived at her job, another hostess who I did not know asked why I wanted to talk to Peach.  When I stated I was her boyfriend, the girl had a stunned look on her face and immediately turned around to find Peach.  I overheard her say to another girl that she didn’t know Peach was seeing “other people”.  Hmm.  We’ve been dating for almost four years, so what was the other hostess talking about?

Peach saw me and immediately became agitated.  She was angry that I arrived unannounced and told me to come back when she was done at 10.  I told her I thought she was done at 8, but she claimed she had to stay a few extra hours.  In my head I thought she was full of shit but I could see she wasn’t happy and very uncomfortable, so I agreed to leave without saying another word to her.  You couldn’t tell me that a restaurant with minimal bar traffic needed extra help seating people after 8 p.m.  She was planning on being somewhere after work and she needed to weave her web of lies before seeing me again.

I was too far away from my parents house to go back and return at 10, so I decided to head to the local shopping mall to burn off the two hours I had to wait for Peach to “finish up at work”.  After parking the car I headed to the food court since I didn’t eat for several hours.  I got my food and sat alone at a small table, wondering why my relationship with Peach looked to be in jeopardy.  I barely touched the food and people-watched for the majority of the time.  It hurt that I was being lied to by the girl I loved, somebody who I gave the last four years of my life to without hesitation.

Around 9:15, just before the mall closing at 9:30, a group of three teenage girls sat a few tables away from me.  They were all about 14 or 15 and they were creating the typical laughter and early high school conversations that one would expect from girls of this age.  I continued to people-watch and didn’t look their way.  It was an awkward spot to be in since I was 21 going on 22, but I didn’t have the mental energy to stand up and go somewhere else.

Right around 9:30, I noticed the girls got quiet, and I assumed they were probably getting ready to meet whoever was taking them back home.  I took a glance over at their table and one of the girls was staring right back at me with intent.  Going by the look on her face, it’s like she could feel the pain I had in my heart.  She must have been watching me for a few minutes while her and her friends sat there, taking notice that a soulless older guy was a few seats away.  We exchanged hellos and smiles for a few seconds, and we both looked away from each other.  She continued on talking to her friends and I found some energy to finish off the rest of my food.  I was waiting for her friends to make fun of her for talking to an older guy, but that never happened.

About five minutes later, the girls got up from their table and the same one made eye contact with me again.  This time we exchanged goodbyes and smiles, and they walked out of the food court.  I remained there for some time trying to assess the situation, and I still think to this day the outcome of that moment with that 15 year-old girl went the way it should have.  And I think she knew that to be true as well.

Somehow, my 21 year-old self had a cerebral, esoteric connection with a 15 year-old high school girl, and we both knew in our hearts that we bumped into each other eight or nine years too early.  No matter what she wanted to say to me when I glanced up at her table, she already knew at her young age that it wasn’t going to create the possibility of a relationship with me.  The fond look on her face was telling, but in the end we told ourselves this will be our final meeting, at least for now.

Over the next two years Peach and I were on and off as a couple and I finally had enough of the instability.  Throughout my 20’s I wondered what my life would have been like if those three girls were college age at the mall.  We would have spoken to each other and maybe I would have started dating the girl I exchanged that moment with.  Instead, the outcome was something that Russian author Anton Chekhov would have written in the late 1890’s.

In the present, I’m happy, married and I have a young son.  I’m sure that girl I glanced upon at the mall found happiness somewhere out in the world as well.  When we meet again, we’ll have the same exchange and go our separate ways.  This time we’ll have spouses, kids, smart phones and many more responsibilities in our lives.  Lives that could have been interwoven into one if we met around 2005.  Reflecting on this moment in my life reminds me of what words Kurt Vonnegut wrote many times in Slaughterhouse-Five:

So it goes.

 

The Haunting At Green Man Tunnel

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The man pictured above is “The Green Man” and is not “The Green Man”.  Thousands of people in the Pittsburgh area have combined two “Green Man” legends into one semi-true story.  This tale aims to set the record straight on both stories and I will add my experiences with the Green Man Tunnel (pictured with the road salt stored inside) and Corvette Tunnel (the picture with the one lane road proceeding through the tunnel).

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE REAL “GREEN MAN”

Raymond Robinson (1910-1985) will always be the true “Green Man”.  The photo I am using of him in this tale was obtained from his Wikipedia page!  Robinson’s story is a sad and very fascinating one.  Before the age of 10, Robinson was climbing a post connected to a trolley bridge when a trolley came across at the same time.  These bridges were not grounded in the early 1900’s, so the line with 22,000 volts attached to it shocked him, melting his eyes and nose off of his face and also causing the loss of one arm.  The local newspaper reported on the story, and part of the caption read, “He will die”.  The shock also caused his skin to appear green or yellow on parts of his body, hence the ill-fated nickname given to him by the local residents.

I have met two people that have seen Robinson with their own eyes.  They, like many other people over the years, came across him while he was walking alongside Pennsylvania state route 351 in the dark near the town of Koppel.  Koppel is about 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh near the Ohio border.  Robinson walked at night to avoid attention and since he was blind it didn’t matter if it was light or dark outside.  In each encounter the two people I knew saw Robinson talking to teenage or college age boys who provided a few cigarettes to him during his nightly walk (Robinson was known to accept a few beers as well).  Not all of the people that Robinson met were as nice, but he continued walking that patch of road well into the 1970’s.

GREEN MAN TUNNEL & CORVETTE TUNNEL

On the south end of Piney Fork Road in South Park, Pennsylvania sit two old tunnels that are side-by-side and run underneath a railroad line.  Green Man Tunnel is an old coal car tunnel that sits a few feet above Piney Fork Road.  Corvette Tunnel has one lane for car traffic and the other half allows Piney Fork Creek to flow through the tunnel and into nearby Peters Creek.  These two tunnels are 10 miles south of Pittsburgh.  I have heard stories about ghost trains at this site in relation to both tunnels, but the only line that runs full size trains is the line ABOVE BOTH TUNNELS.  Before South Park Township used Green Man Tunnel for road salt storage, I walked around inside of it and there was no way a locomotive could fit inside that thing.

There have been many different ghost stories concerning this site, but there is no historical information that identifies a real tragedy taking place at the bottom of Piney Fork Road.  One common detail with many Green Man Tunnel ghost stories is the presence of what appears to be a man with a slight glow to the outline of his body.  The glow is usually described as a green color, so when people around the South Hills of Pittsburgh started speaking of the incidents, the name “Green Man” kept coming up in conversations.

The story behind the name for Corvette Tunnel is just poppycock.  The usual story I heard over the years is that two Chevrolet Corvettes were speeding down Piney Fork Road to get to the single lane tunnel first.  One Corvette made it, one crashed into the creek.  Some stories have the wrecked car melting into the walls of the tunnel and the driver never to be seen again.  Yeah, really.

The road has many bumps and bends in it and its width can barely accommodate two cars trying to get by one another.  Nobody would be able to race at a high rate of speed in that area of South Park.  And if there was a true race that happened here years ago, the speed probably never exceeded 30 miles per hour and the cars taking part were actually an AMC Gremlin and a Ford Pinto.

These two tunnels are 50 miles from the area that Raymond Robinson resided.  Green Man Tunnel is linked to Robinson because people around Pittsburgh assume that the ghost stories and Ray’s story are about the same topic.

MY FIRST GREEN MAN TUNNEL EXPERIENCE

In my junior year of high school in May of 1993, I decided to cut school with my friend Eric and Eric’s friend John.  Eric had an old car and he wanted to drive around since this particular Friday was very nice.  Eric and John came up with the idea to visit the inside of Green Man Tunnel.  At the time, I wasn’t aware of the stories behind it.

We arrived around 8:30 a.m., and the temperature was around 55 F.  It was a nice sunny morning and there was no wind.  We entered Green Man Tunnel and it was clear that many people used it as a party spot.  There was graffiti all over the inside and outside of the tunnel, empty beer cans and cigarette butts were strewn all over the ground, old tree branches and stumps were used as seats and a fire pit was closer to the entrance.  About halfway back the tunnel, huge wooden boards sealed off the other end of the tunnel.  The other half was filled in with dirt and rocks.

After we looked around inside for about fifteen minutes, the three of us took the thirty step walk back down to Piney Fork Road to check out Corvette tunnel.  John hopped down closer to the creek side of the tunnel to see if there were any fish in the water.  Eric and I checked out the graffiti in this tunnel as well and we were shouting to hear our voices echo through the tunnel.  John was annoyed because he felt we were scaring the fish out of the tunnel portion of the creek.  The echo was pretty loud!  Only a few cars came through Corvette Tunnel while we were there, and we didn’t experience any paranormal activity.  We left the area right before 10 a.m.

MY SECOND (AND LAST) GREEN MAN TUNNEL EXPERIENCE

My high school girlfriend “Peach” wanted to check out the tunnels one Friday evening in April of 1994.  Peach’s friend Deanna came with us, and we arrived at sunset.  It was warm for April that day, around 72 F, overcast and no wind.

On the way I informed the girls about the current use of Green Man Tunnel, so when we got there we decided just to check out the inside of Corvette Tunnel.  We didn’t know who was in Green Man, so just in case we would encounter trouble we stayed on the main road.

Peach and I were holding hands when we decided to start walking toward Corvette Tunnel.  Deanna was about twenty steps behind us because she decided to throw her small purse back in my car.  Right when Peach and I hit the threshold of the tunnel, four paranormal characteristics occurred at the exact same time.

The temperature dropped at least twenty degrees when we entered.  I remembered the first time I was in Corvette and it wasn’t that cold, and that day it was around 55 F.  We heard a loud guttural moan from a male voice that echoed throughout the tunnel.  That moan was much louder than anything that Eric and I produced while we shouted in there.  A light wind blew in different directions inside of Corvette and there was a pulsating glowing white aura that was all around the inside of the tunnel.  No definite shape, but very visible.

And then within ten seconds, everything went back to normal.  I turned to Peach, and all she said was,”I think we better go.”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

Deanna, who was just about to enter the tunnel, heard our brief conversation and was wondering why we wanted to go.  She didn’t hear or see anything!  Deanna was fifteen steps from the entrance.  When Eric and I were shouting in Corvette the previous year, the neighbors up the road could probably hear us shouting!  She thought we were trying to scare her, and we insisted we were not.  Peach was the first to bring up the details of our incident.

“Did you hear that Larry?”

“Yeah, what did you hear?”

“A moan.  It sounded like a man.”

“Yes!  It was so loud!  Did you get ice cold when we entered?”

“YES!!! I thought that was me being scared!  It happened the moment we walked in!”

“I know!  Did you see the misty white lights swirling around?”

“YES!!! I can’t believe that just happened!”

Deanna thought our little joke was going too far and she wasn’t buying any parts of our story.  She thought we made up the story just so we could scare her and leave before it got really dark.  But it was true.

MY TALE COMPARED TO OTHER STORIES ON GREEN MAN TUNNEL & CORVETTE TUNNEL

Most of the ghost stories that are found on the Internet about these tunnels reference Green Man Tunnel, but after my experience all those years ago I can’t help but wonder if most of those stories involved Corvette Tunnel.  Before the ghostly encounter that Peach and I had there, I never heard someone share details of a similar event, and to this day it seems our haunting was a unique story that doesn’t come close to previous documented accounts.  I interpreted the haunting as the ghost’s way of saying, “Get out of here”, and I will respect that command by never returning to that stretch of Piney Fork Road.

I know Raymond Robinson did not scare Peach and I that night in 1994.  I just wish the rest of the Pittsburgh region was aware of this fact.  So “The Green Man” does exist in South Park, but he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page or a Twitter account.  Not yet anyway.

My High School Homecoming Disaster of 1993

(BLOG NOTE: I’m sorry this tale is so long, but it is what it is.)

In my senior year of high school I had two extra elective courses on my schedule due to completing my requirements for science and math during my junior year.  One class was drafting (technical drawing) where I met my first long-term girlfriend and the other was home economics.  “Home Eck” had about twenty students in it, and I was one of two guys in the class.  The room had seven tables with four chairs at each table.  I sat next to my friend Barb, who worked at the neighborhood McDonald’s with me.  Across from us were her friends Jen and Sara.  In early October, Jen started a conversation prior to class about a friend that couldn’t find a date for the homecoming dance in mid-October.  I’ll call her friend “Millie” for this story.

At the time I wasn’t dating anybody.  To be completely accurate, I never dated at all.  I had bad acne between 7th and 11th grade and socially I was immature and awkward during that same time period.  I also had no style, no money and no direction.  So in hindsight I can see why the girls stayed away from me for so long.  All of the senior girls wouldn’t date me because they assumed I was the same person they were around the last three years.

Millie came to our school in her junior year.  I saw her around school but I never talked to her before.  We had 1,200 students in our high school, so it was easy to attend four years there and not interact with someone (I actually met a girl at my graduation because our last names kept us next to each other in the procession line).  Since Millie didn’t see me before 11th grade, I knew I had a chance to go to the dance with her.

“Hey Jen, I’ll go with Millie if she can’t find anybody.”

“OK, I’ll let her know.”

THE BLIND AUDITION

About ten days went by, and the possibility of me going to homecoming with Millie seemed slim since I did not get a confirmation from Jen that Millie wanted to go with me.  I saw Millie a few days prior but she didn’t go out of her way to talk to me, so I assumed she found a date.  With this moment in mind, I thought Jen was avoiding the topic with me because she felt bad that my offer was rejected by Millie.  The dance was on Saturday night and here it was Tuesday, so I decided to carry on with my normal routine for the remainder of the week.

On Thursday night I stopped by McDonald’s to check my schedule for next week.  When I came in the door, I saw Barb behind the counter.

“Hey Barb!  All ready for Saturday?”

“Yeah, how about you Lar?”

“Oh, I’m not going.  I didn’t find a date.”

“Um, YES YOU DID!!!  You said you would go with Millie!  She already has her dress!  You HAVE to go now!”

Stunned, I explained to Barb that I would have gone if she could not find anybody.  Apparently Jen took my answer as an automatic yes, and Millie was content on going with me.  Millie had spent money on the dress, shoes, etc., and I had no decent clothes to wear to homecoming.  It was a good thing I ran into Barb that night, because Millie might have gone to homecoming alone.  If Millie walked in by herself, the mean girls would have preyed on her and I would have been locked in the “Friend Zone” by all of the girls until the end of high school.

I cut school that Friday to buy shoes and clothes.  I had no flippin’ clue what was trendy in regards to dress clothes, so I tried to keep my look basic in case I made poor fashion choices.  Having said this, the first thing I bought was a $40 pair of black WINGTIP shoes.  In 1993 this look wasn’t completely “old man” yet, due to the mid-nineties fad of swing music bands.  At least I wore them for the remainder of the nineties without TOO MUCH ridicule.  The rest was plain: Black pants, white shirt, black tie.  After three hours and $95 spent, I was ready to hit the flower shop.

I got a nice corsage for $15 considering it was the day prior to the dance.  When I got home, I called Jen to get Millie’s phone number and to find out when I was going to pick up everybody.  My car at the time was one of the cooler rides with its chrome wheels and sunroof, so I didn’t mind showing it off.  I was responsible for my expenses, so I was already out $110 before talking to Millie!  This was to be my most expensive blind date of my life, and it was my first one ($110 in 2016 dollars is about $185)!

Friday night I talked to Millie on the phone.  We talked for over an hour until my dad needed to make a call to my grandmother (remember, no cell phones then young whippersnappers).  Out of all the teenage phone conversations I ever had with girls, this one was the most engaging.  It was like I knew Millie already.  We laughed, shared the usual high school gossip tales and she even let down her guard and told me about an old family tragedy.  I was really touched that Millie would share such personal information with me and it came across that she was interested in me.  I made sure she knew that I was coming by her house with Jen and Jen’s boyfriend Bill around 6 p.m. Saturday to pick her up.

I headed over to Jen’s house at 5 p.m. to meet her and Bill.  I met Jen’s parents and immediately Jen takes me into the bathroom.  Apparently my hair didn’t look very appealing so she remade my hairstyle.  I didn’t mind because she made it look better.  It was an odd start to the night, but I wasn’t used to the correct protocol concerning school dances and fixing my hair to be neat.  After Jen and Bill took photos with their families, we went to pick up Millie.

THE BATTLE ROUND

We got to Millie’s house at 6 p.m. and I met Millie and her family.  Everyone at the house took photos of both couples and I was aware by 6:15 that this wasn’t going to work.  Millie was ignoring me to the best of her ability and the outgoing, interesting girl I spoke to on the phone 24 hours ago was gone.  I assumed she didn’t like the way I looked, but I know she had seen me at school before!  Maybe Jen should have kept my hair the same way?!?

We left Millie’s house at 6:30 because Bill had a friend that was of legal drinking age that was going to buy us beer.  We met him at the store to buy a 24-pack and since I was driving, I would get to keep the leftovers.  Since Jen and Millie hated beer, the plan switched to a new lemon-lime malt beverage that hit the market a few months back: Zima.

Yes, flippin’ ZIMA.  Since Coors quit making Zima in the US years ago (thank God), I would describe the taste of Zima this way:  Take a Smirnoff Ice and pour it into a pint glass.  Next, take a piss in the toilet.  Next, take a double-shot glass and fill it with the piss water from the toilet, adding it to the Smirnoff Ice.  Stir and enjoy.  Lucky me got the leftovers.  They sat in the trunk of my car for weeks until I got rid of them.  At this moment I wasn’t sure which house we were going to party at after the dance.  My main concern was if Millie would actually stay with me at homecoming.

When we arrived at the dance, Millie saw a few guy friends that I didn’t know.  They were better-looking than I was and she was having a good time talking to them.  I figured this was the moment where I would be left to fend for myself among all of the couples.  I was really disappointed how this night was shaping up.  I was kind enough to take Millie, to drive her, Jen and Bill to homecoming and I was staring isolation in the face.  I sat quiet, alone, thinking about leaving the three of them at the dance and taking my shitty box of Zima bottles and using them as bowling pins.

After about ten minutes of loneliness, Millie came back to me and we talked to a few other couples besides Jen and Bill.  Millie danced fast and slow songs with me throughout the night, and all of a sudden things were a little less awkward between us.  Jen and Bill were ready to crack open some more Zima bottles (HOO-frickin-ray), so the four of us left homecoming around 10:15 just before the dance ended at 10:30.

THE KNOCKOUT ROUND

When we got back to my car, I asked Bill where I was going.  Bill told me to head over to a main road west of Pittsburgh so he could ask what the nightly rates were.

“Bill, are we getting a hotel room to booze it up?  I thought we were going to somebody’s house!”

“Well, yeah, those plans fell through, so we are going to see how much money it is for rooms.”

“Rooms?!?”

“Well, you and Millie get your own room.  You can party with us until at least 2 a.m.”

This blind homecoming date was becoming more complicated by the minute.  I’m not even sure if Millie liked me, and now we were going to share a bed on the first night we met?!?  Between our phone conversation Friday night and now there was no even ground with her.  She would either show interest in me or none at all.

Including taxes, each room was $61.  I had to pay for our room because Millie didn’t have any extra money for it.  She was just as surprised as me about our post-dance plans.  The four of us drank in Jen and Bill’s room until 2 a.m. and decided to split up after a noise complaint was called in on us.

When Millie and I entered our room, the tension and the awkwardness between us was tangible.  When we changed into more comfortable clothes for sleeping, she went into the bathroom and I changed near the bed.  We were both tired, so we didn’t turn on the television.  We actually stayed up and talked for an hour on the bed.  Being seventeen at the time, if Millie wanted to have sex I would have said yes, but I’m glad we didn’t do anything.  I didn’t bring sex up at all because at times during the night she seemed pissed to be stuck with me!

Millie and I went to sleep and I woke up around 7:30 when I heard a crash by our door.  It turned out to be our complimentary newspaper so I stayed up to read the sports section.  Millie stayed in bed until about 9:30.  I think she was awake based on her breathing but I didn’t look her way.  If she wanted to avoid me I wasn’t going to make things anymore awkward than they already were.  The four of us left the hotel around 10:45, stopped at Wendy’s for some hamburgers at 11:00 and then headed for home.

Dropping Millie off at her house was uneventful because I told everyone that I was supposed to be at work for a 12 to 4 shift.  After I basically tossed everyone out of the car at their houses, I took off for home, called my work to tell them I was on the way in, and worked a 12:30 to 4:30 shift that Sunday.  When I got home from work that day, I showered and went to sleep early.  I ended up sleeping fourteen consecutive hours since the adrenaline finally wore off from the last few days.

THE STEAL (THE AFTERMATH)

I drove Jen and Millie home from school a few times after the homecoming dance took place, but I could tell Millie really wanted to move on from me.  I quit calling her two weeks after the dance and I never spoke to her again.  Not because I avoided her, but fate kept us apart during our senior year.  I didn’t have a lunch period, study hall, co-ed gym class or lab with her, which was stunning since we were both taking the same caliber of classes.

Other people noticed that Millie was ignoring me after homecoming and I was glad to have friends show support for me after what went down.  One particular girl in my drafting class was really pissed at how Millie treated me.  This girl was “Peach”, my first long-term girlfriend (I mentioned Peach in my leather pants tale from a few months back).  Peach and I started dating in late 1993 and we finally broke it off in late 1999, with the last two years being on and off.  The $200 I spent last-minute on homecoming wasn’t in vain after all.  Peach witnessed my loneliness at the dance when she was with her date and she wanted to leave with me instead of the guy she came with.  If I would have known what Peach was thinking, maybe this tale would have been even better.  It might have included desertion of friends, sex in a tub filled with piss-water Zima (eww, not really) and an early start to a relationship that shaped my life going forward for the better and for the worse.

 

WARNING: Parenthood may result in “fluffiness”

(BLOG NOTE:  Since I’m watching my son more often over the next several days, I’ve decided to post a “fluffy” tale before delving into another mind-bending post of what the kids would call “awesomeness”.  You’re welcome.)

A year before my son was born, I was still pretty active despite venturing further into the dreadful 35-44 age bracket.  This age group is the transitional period between hanging onto your youth and the new challenge of realizing your body’s limitations.  Up until my early 30’s, I could go several days without exercising and not lose results.  I had no problem keeping up with where I left off.  Now at 40, forget it.  Now as a parent, really forget it.

I’m not a total mess.  Yet.  I still have three pairs of mesh shorts that I purchased in 1996.  They are now stretched out to the point that they won’t fit me when I lose the weight, but I have to say we had a good twenty year run (I have shorts older than some of my readers).  I still manage to follow the main guidelines of the Pittsburgh Yinzer diet, which consists of the following food groups:

Milk, Meat, Vegetable, Fruit, Grain, Fried Food, Soda Pop, Coffee, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Doughnut, Birthday Cake, Catholic Fish Fry Friday and Fire Hall Wedding (rigatoni with meatballs, fried chicken, macaroni salad, some type of potato dish and rolls with butter)

When my son was born, many healthy aspects of my life became a low priority, and rightfully so in my eyes.  Obviously sleep became fractured, I consumed WAY more caffeine, I chose snacking over having a real dinner and I also chose catching up on sleep instead of using any leftover spare time to exercise.  These four factors led to my chest becoming boobs, my waist showing a small beer belly, my legs becoming thin and my face looking a little rounder than before.

Even after two bouts of kidney stones (due to too much Mountain Dew soda pop) and all of the illnesses acquired from day care the last few years, I wouldn’t change a thing.  Being a dad is the best thing that happened to me.  My son loves it when I chase him all over the house, when I take him for walks around the neighborhood, when I pick him up if he needs a hug and when I sit with him reading, playing with toys or watching television.  He’s getting heavier and I carry him for at least an hour each day.  At least my arms and shoulders are still somewhat beefy.

I’m a new dad, recently unemployed, out of shape, scared about the future and frustrated.  To remain positive, it could be said that I’m a hipster stay-at-home dad who is weighing his options before embarking on a new career path.  I’m also self-aware of life’s everyday challenges and that the path I have walked until now has not been in vain.

Hey, whatever.  I’ll figure it out.  Somehow, I always do.

Rocker Girl: My moment with a Pittsburgh 9

(BLOG NOTE:  I know the title sounds shallow, but please remember that I am a schmo.  If you are scoring at home, a Pittsburgh 9 is equivalent to a New York/London 8 and a Los Angeles/Paris/Milan 7.  Any city smaller than Pittsburgh would have scored this girl a 10.)

My previous tale about going to bars and clubs sparked a memory that could be categorized as my moment of oblivious joy.  An oxymoron yes, but once I’m done telling this tale, you’ll see why I say this.

Last post I mentioned how my friend Dave and I used to drink on the South Side of Pittsburgh.  One night in the fall of 1997, we went to Dee’s Cafe with a group of people from our work.  Dee’s was always a good place to start the night since drinks were cheaper than most places in the neighborhood.  The problem was that many other groups started their night there as well, so acquiring drinks from the bar was usually a headache since you had to wait so long to get the attention of a bartender.  To alleviate my time waiting for beer, I always grabbed two each time I fought my way to the front.

Dee’s was two floors and shaped like a U downstairs.  It had an entrance on each side of the downstairs, but you had to enter through the door to the right, which brought you into the bar side of the downstairs.  The bar was the longest in the South Side.  It was shaped like a J, with the curved part near the front door.  This little alcove was where many of the regulars sat and where the local celebrities (Usually band members after a gig) sat when they stayed on the bottom floor.  The upstairs was spacious with full-size pool tables and a smaller bar, but it was really stuffy and there was less room for the cigarette smoke to circulate (No restrictions on smoking in bars in 1997!).

On a busy night when we finally received all of our drinks from the bar, my group usually walked to the back of the first floor and made our way to the quieter side of the U.  The left side had three bar-size pool tables, bar tables and four seats at each table along the far wall.  No bar, but if we had our drinks, we didn’t care since we were probably leaving soon anyway.  On the night of my encounter with a “Pittsburgh 9”, we stayed on the right side for drinks 3 and 4, and it was really getting crowded in Dee’s.

On my own, I noticed there was an open chair toward the front end of the bar.  I walked up to the chair and asked the girl to my left if I could sit there to get a few beers.  She told me that nobody was sitting there, and after I sat down I started a conversation with her that I had no expectations of making a lasting one.

“I figured if I’m going to wait fifteen minutes for my next two beers I might as well get a front row seat for the request.”

She laughed.  “Yeah, this place can get crazy on the weekends.  Are you here with anybody?”

“Yeah, they are all toward the back trying to wave their money at anybody behind the counter.  Even the bar backs are getting an earful from them.  Are your friends back there with them?”

She pointed behind us at a cluster of people who all had drinks and talking to one another.  “My friends bumped into a few friends that I don’t know, so I stayed here to save our spot at the bar.”

“Well I’m glad I can keep you company among the madness in here.  I’ll give you back your chair when I get my beers, whenever that will be.”

Her response shocked me, and I suddenly forgot all about ordering beers.  “It’s cool that you’re here sitting with me, they (Meaning her friends) won’t mind.  I’m Nikki by the way.”

Nikki was easily the most beautiful girl I ever saw in Dee’s.  She had shoulder-length wavy black hair, a plain white top with a chic black leather jacket, jeans and black boots.  To paint a picture for you, she looked like Selena Gomez with the personality of Elizabeth Banks.

To explain what I looked like then will take a few references since the first one might not sound familiar to many people.  I actually looked a lot like Jay Mohr back then, since I still had my hair and my chest muscles didn’t become boobs yet.  For a more modern reference, give Charlie Puth 90’s hair and mix in Rupert Grint.  Yeah, I was definitely floating between a 5 and a 6.  So for me to be seen talking to Nikki was a victory already.

Now that I had the information that I was welcome to sit with her there, I remained in that seat after I got those two beers.  For roughly the next ten minutes after I got my drinks, we small talked about a few topics and we were both laughing it up pretty good.  At one point, Nikki actually reached out to touch my arm!  This isn’t supposed to be happening to me!

Right when our conversation started taking off and I was inching in closer to Nikki, my friend Jill from work rushed to the front.  Jill grabbed me around my shoulders and almost knocked me off the bar chair.

“Larry, we have to go NOW.  Come with me to the back.  HURRY UP!”

“Why?  What’s….!?!  It was nice talking to you Nikki!  Have a good night!”

Nikki looked shocked at first but I think she understood what was going on, based on information that I didn’t receive yet.  “You too Larry.  It was nice meeting you!”

Jill had me by the hand.  For her to make a run to the front to get me was confusing.  Why didn’t my guy friends come get me?  Why didn’t her boyfriend come get me?  What was so urgent that I had to flee the main bar area?

When Jill and I made it to the left side of the bar, we stayed in the back for a few minutes.  She told me that everybody in our group noticed that all of the band members from (A famous local band in Pittsburgh) and their friends were looking upon me with hatred.  Apparently one of our friends pointed out that I was talking to the lead singer’s girlfriend, and he wasn’t looking very happy (What a puss I say, he should have told me to go and I would have been alright about it).  The guys were afraid if they went up to get me, it might have caused a fight to start and we would have been kicked out for good.  The local band could have stabbed all of us and we still would have been in the wrong.  That’s why Jill came to get me.

Still stunned at this news, I thanked Jill for uh, saving me.  I knew I was way over my head anyway.  Unless money is a contributing factor, you never see relationships work where the imbalance in the appearance “rating” is at or beyond +/- 2.  I was lucky if I was a 6, so there was no way Nikki as a 9 wanted anything to do with me.  The ironic part about this tale is that the best moment of the night was being alone with Jill for those few minutes.

I worked with Jill for a few years.  I always had a girlfriend when I worked with her and she always had a boyfriend.  I never questioned her when she dragged me out of that chair that night.  I willfully went with her and held on to her hand as we turned around the back of Dee’s to get to the quieter side.  When she explained to me the possible scenario I was taken away from, we were actually standing face-to-face, holding each other’s hands by our sides.  Jill was way more compatible with me, for me.  She was a 6 for sure and she loved being around my 5/6 ass.

Jill already knew that I drove a shitty fourteen year-old car, still lived with my parents, had no credit, no ambition and hardly any money.  And yet, there she was, going out of her way to corral me back to the group, but allowing for us to be alone with each other.  Her boyfriend was no more than ten steps from us, and when I was with her there that didn’t matter to us.  I could just tell by her eyes and how she was holding my hands.  My girlfriend at that time (Who wasn’t there) couldn’t duplicate the charge of absolute love I felt from that moment with Jill.  Maybe Jill didn’t feel the same way, but if my heart was right on that night, she did too.

If I had to choose a girl from my past that defines, “The one that got away”, it would be Jill.  I never asked her out on a date because of our own relationship ties.  I really believe she would have said yes to me.  We’re together in some parallel universe I’m sure and on that night when I fatefully sat down next to a “Pittsburgh 9”, Jill ended up being a 10.  That’s the score I would have given her anyway.