Friday, January 7, 2011

Devil's in the House of the Rising Sun

I am terrified of all things Satanic. This fear has nothing to do with my Christian beliefs, the Bible, my reserved seat in the proverbial hand-basket, or any retro-angst over attending a Jr. High with the "Red Devils" as the mascot. I'm actually not sure where this ingrained fear comes from, but I have several clues.

It could have something to do with reading The Omen when I was 16 because my mom forbid me to see the movie and I figured I'd skirt around that directive by reading the book instead. Brilliant idea, because the scary devil-things in the movie (which, of course, in true teenager mindset I ended up seeing anyway) were nothing compared to the details in the book. I had nightmares for years. Go ahead, Mom, say it - you know you want to.

It could have something to do with that whole "if you play a record backwards you can hear satanic messages" trend. We did this one night in college and it is absolutely true! I'm not sure what the messages were because I was too busy hiding under the pillow after the first sentence. To this day if I ever hear any sort of audio distortion, I know it's the devil speaking to me.

It could have something to do with movies like Damien, The Seventh Sign, and The Exorcist that I should've known better than to ever watch. I even watched The Exorcist years after it came out, on video, in the middle of the afternoon, surrounded by 3 friends who I made swear that they wouldn't leave me alone for at least the rest of the week, and was still terrified. I've never watched the remake and have no plans to. Too little, too late, probably.

However, despite all of these contributing factors, I really think my fear was implanted at a much younger age for a much sillier reason. When I was little - like elementary-school-aged-impressionable little - someone told me this story: If it's raining outside while the sun is shining and you put a nail in the ground with a metal pot over it and then put your ear to it, you can hear the devil beating his wife. And because I have repeated this story every single time there's a sunshower for almost 40 years, I often get the "I've never heard of that before in my life" comment, accompanied by the you-have-3-heads look of confusion. So, upon hearing it for the 786th time the other day, The Husband challenges me to find out if it's really a "thing" or just something I completely dreamed up. In other words, "Google it, honey". "Okay," I thought, "I'll show him." But I didn't, really. I did find out that there are lots of theories, though:
  • Devil is beating his wife. (US - esp. the South, Italy, Holland, Hungary)
  • Devil is kissing his wife. (Tennessee)
  • Devil is beating his wife and marrying his daughter. (France)
  • Devil is beating his grandmother. (Germany)
  • Devil and his wife are fighting over a bone. (Carribean)
  • Devil is getting married. (Hungary)
And while these are all quite, um, interesting, I didn't find anything that mentioned a nail and a metal pot, so I'm not finished with my research quite yet. I mean, I couldn't have mis-heard this very wise elementary-school-aged classmate, right? And perpetuated the myth in true urban legend form? And btw, I double-dog-dare you not to repeat this story the next time there's a sunshower. In fact, while you're at it, get out an old record and play it backwards.

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