If You’re Here With Us, Give Us a Sign of Your Perversion by Stev Weidlich

My wife is a ghost hunter. Actually, my wife considers herself more of a Paranormal Anthropologist. But, essentially, she’s a ghost hunter. And if that makes you think of poorly socialized men on basic cable running around decrepit buildings in the dark, adorned with over-moussed fauxhawks, poorly groomed goatees, and overdeveloped vanity muscles, then you’re in the ballpark. My wife does tend to bump around decrepit buildings or other structures in the dark. However, she doesn’t tend to run screaming from strange noises and the word “Bro” is noticeably absent from her vocabulary.

As part of her ongoing research into the paranormal, she attends conferences and presentations by other researchers and authors about The Ghosts of Wherever, New Research Based On Some Weird Story An Old Guy I Don’t Know Told Me, and This Piece of Evidence I Found That Could Be A Bug Or A Piece Of Dust But Maybe Not. So I wasn’t surprised when she suggested that we attend a presentation on “Sex and the Supernatural.” Can people have sex with ghosts? What is Sex Magick? Are ghosts pervy? These questions, and many more, will be answered for the low-low price of $35 a ticket, to be held at a local, vaguely religious-themed community center that neither one of us had heard of.

Plans for the evening would include finding the community center, listening to some guy wearing a tweed jacket talk about ghost sex, and watching a no-doubt hastily constructed PowerPoint showing obscure paintings of incubi and succubae consorting with sleepy Victorians. Maybe we’d giggle at some boobies.

When we arrive, we find that the venue is not a community center, but someone’s house. It’s a large house, mind you. And it did have a vaguely religious-themed sign out front. Welcome to the Temple of the Age, Witnesses of the Light, Believers of the Way, Or Something. It seemed just as likely that the sign was there to support some kind of tax write-off in case the IRS ever paid a personal visit. As we entered we were not greeted by anyone in a tweed jacket. Instead, we were greeted by this guy, Daka. A man with the hair of a Kennedy, the animal magnetism of a used car salesman, and the eyes of a killer clown. He pulled each person to him close for a full body hug. You know the kind of hugs that you give where you bend over deeply at the waist, like you might catch some disease? Usually combined with a few pats on the back? The kind reserved for the spouses of friends, family you don’t like, and people who you’ve spent all day with but still can’t remember their name? This was not that hug. Additionally, if you were female, you were met with a surprisingly passionate kiss on the lips. My wife instantly held out her right hand with the force of a very stiff judo chop to dissuade any hugging or kissing. If a handshake can say, “Don’t you fucking hug or kiss me—shake my hand,” this one said it. Daka was disappointed.

We entered the presentation space. Forget the lecture hall, this was his living room. Around the space were couches, beanbag chairs, and pillows with the kind of vaguely Oriental flair you can only get from Pier 1 Imports. We found some pillows with the fewest number of ornamental plastic gemstones on which to sit. As we wait for the presentation to begin, we start to notice that everyone is really sociable. Did everyone here know each other already? Does it seem like some of these people live here with Daka? And were we the only suckers that actually bought a ticket to this thing?

The presentation starts and we go around the room: “Introduce yourself and tell me what you’d like to learn tonight.” There were some older couples, us, some other younger couples, a group of friends, some woman and her son, some other sketchy dudes. The older members of the room looked like the Senior Center Shuttle dropped them off, although they had the wild hair and slightly spaced out demeanor that older people get when they clearly enjoyed the 1960s too much. The others were a nice mix of people who were either: (a)roadies for Lilith Fair in the 90s, during which their wardrobe solidified into flannel and jean vests; (b) bespectacled, handlebar-mustachioed, fedora-festooned, homebrew-beer-swilling hipsters, none of whom were self-aware; or (c) “sweaty nerds,” a simple but visceral description coined by my 14-year-old cousin to describe any young man who clearly skipped their standing Friday Night Dungeons & Dragons Quest to be here. Oh, and Daka.

My wife talked about her academic interest in the paranormal. The rest of the people talked about how they wanted to harness the power of their sexual energy, perchance to attract ghosts. A diverse crowd.

Daka begins the presentation using what I can only assume was my 4th grade math teacher’s old overhead projector, because that’s the last time I had seen one in use. Through a series of transparencies, we explore: Chakras. Orgasms. Sex energy attracting ghosts. Sex energy being the most powerful energy in the world. Sex energy so powerful that it can break down the scrim between worlds and open up portals for beings from the afterlife to come through. Also, if you want something, wish for it while you’re having an orgasm and it will come true.

And then Daka welcomed us to The Love Tribe.

Wait, what? “Now let’s get in small groups and talk about what you and your partner do sexually to create sex energy that spirits may use to manifest!”

Um, do we have to? And can we get back to The Love Tribe thing? I have some questions about that.

But before those answers can be provided, my wife and I get into a very personal conversation with another husband and wife, who remind me of my parents, about their adventures in cunnilingus, blow jobs, doggie style, and role playing as Roman soldiers and Wild West barmaids. Oh, and don’t forget anal.

When a very uncomfortable five minutes are up, my wife and I look around the room. The number of sensual back-rubs happening in the room had increased exponentially. Some guy asks my wife to sit in front of him while he’s on the couch. Can I interest you in a back-rub, Academic Ghost Hunter Chick? I discover that people can also judo chop with their eyes, because my wife just did.

The presentation continued. Incubi rape, finally! But wait; out of the corner of my eye, three people are starting to make out. And there may be a fourth person in the mix purely for the sensual back-rubbing. There were so many hands, it was difficult to tell. Perhaps I studied too much in college, but this was my first real, long-term witnessing of a 3.5 person make-out session. Sure, I’d seen movies. But this was different, and without the soundtrack, soft lighting, and high cheekbones of movie make-outs, not totally sexy. I actually felt bad for Active Kissing Guy (as opposed to Just Here For The Back-rub Guy), as Active Kissing Girl #1 and Active Kissing Girl #2 were clearly enjoying each other’s company. Active Kissing Guy was just trying to find an open patch of skin to suck onto. Have you ever had a poorly behaved pet that jumps into your lap whenever you have food? It seemed as if the Active Kissing Girls were too busy with their lips to even murmur, “Get off.” Perhaps they were too busy trying to extricate their fingers from each other’s frizzy hair and/or blousy tops to notice, their minds lost in the lyrics of Sarah McLachlan and the price of Doc Martens. Or perhaps Active Kissing Guy’s D&D character was named Choltharg The Unkissable and he was using some downtime to get further into his character. Either way, the three of them had clearly found something more interesting to do than wait for their Proactiv and/or Hydroxycut order.

Now, explains Daka, for the participatory part of the evening: The Ouija Board! Who would like to go first? Two people, a man and a woman who had not been dry humping or exploring each other’s soft palettes prior to this, volunteer. A dyslexic, ambivalent, indecisive, boring ghost comes through. What is your name? Afjem. Who are you here to see? Mnwdje. Do you know you are dead? Wgnma. Ghost fail.

My wife and I go next. I start to hear moaning behind me in the crowd. My wife’s eyes glance up and then fall back down to the Ouija board, as if she’d seen a woman arching her back to make out with a man sitting behind her on a beanbag chair while the man unbuttons her jeans and slips his finger down into her crotch, all while this woman’s teenage son sits next to her and snuggles her side. Because this was exactly what my wife saw.

But I didn’t get too distracted, because it seems that my deceased grandfather, Bill, has just come across on the Ouija board! It’s a funny thing when you talk to a ghost. Every question that was once in your head instantly drips out your ear. Ostensibly, you have an opportunity to talk to someone about the greatest mystery of humanity—what happens to you when you die—and you end up asking for a sign. Or asking them to pound on a wall. Or turn on a light. All indications (if you believe this sort of thing) are that it takes a great amount of energy on the part of the spirit to even make contact, let alone affect the physical realm. So after a few taps on the wall, any ghost is pretty much too exhausted to tell you whether Lost was accurate or not. This happened with Grandpa Bill. I think I may have asked him if he had visited us sans-Ouija board at any point. Plastic pointer to yes. Has he visited my cousins, one of which was born after his death? Plastic pointer to yes. Whatarethesecretsoftheuniverse whatdoesdeathholdforus isgodandjesusreal whathappenswhenwedie?!? Oh, shucks, I’m tuckered out admitting that I watch you jerk off in the shower, gotta go.

After the dissipation of Grandpa Bill, my wife and I look up to see that the 3.5-person make-out session has now turned into a complete 4-person make-out/boob-squeeze session. The Mom Fingering was still continuing, and still being met with a stoic reaction from the teenage son. There was some sort of writhing on a beanbag chair involving two people, and I think I saw a penis. The back-rubbers, at some point, had suavely unhooked some bra clasps using skills undoubtedly honed on their parent’s couch while in high school. And Daka, whose website includes “client testimonials” that talk about how “Daka made me realize what a beautiful sexual being I was and how gorgeous my clitoris chakra is in the moonlight,” and “Daka’s touch made me realize that my boyfriend is a cold halibut of a man and my vulva deserves to be honored,” was reveling in it all.

And then Daka suggested that we all go upstairs.

And then my wife and I left.

Stev Weidlich is a cultural anthropologist in San Diego, California. Also, he’s a bit of a prude. His wife is the bravest, most thoughtful paranormal investigator he knows. He is the proud parent of a lovely cat and two of the ugliest, worst dogs imaginable.

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