By Desmond Homann, Variety Editor Originally published in Issue 4, Volume 33 of The University Register on October 23, 2020
My lucky number, for no particular reason, is 58. Some people like repeated numbers like 44 or popular numbers like 13, but the number 58 simply felt right to me. I don’t think that I’m a particularly superstitious person, and I’m pretty sure everyone’s got a number that Just Seems Right, but I do not know why we have lucky objects and numbers in the first place. Maybe I am more superstitious than I claim to be, though; I am writing this now while wearing my favorite sweater and my lucky ring just because I thought I might need a little extra help today. Who knows why I feel this way or if it works.
Have you ever seen the same thing a few too many times in one day? Like when you’ve got a red car on your mind and then you notice that you see more red cars than usual? Well, yeah, I’m sure there’s a psychological explanation for it. Surely, if you’re thinking about something or hoping to see it, you will notice it more than usual, even if it is occurring the same way as ever. It is not that more red cars are appearing, it is that you were previously ignoring some of those red cars. Or at least we can hope that is the case.
This week I must have been needing all that extra luck, though. My buzzer at the TMC was number 58, the change I got back at the store was 58 cents, fives and eights popped up throughout the days, but I didn’t think too much of it. Even at work, when asked if I could take over calling Bingo, my coworker handed me one of the balls, the one she was just about to call: G 58. This just goes to show that we are more perceptive to the things we are constantly thinking about. There have been many things on my mind lately, though, and one of them is Halloween and spooky season.
Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a kid. I cycled through the same few costumes, dressing up as a pirate, a cowboy, a vampire, and then a pirate again. (I stuck to the same phases except for the year that I went as a tree. I was in my Lord of the Rings phase then and thought that I would look cool as an ent, but the reference was lost on all the other 8 year-olds.) I did love everything about the holiday, though. Even during other points in the year, creepy stuff made me happy. I’m a bit embarrassed to share this, but my very first celebrity crushes as a kid were Chernabog, the big pokey guy at the end of Disney’s “Fantasia,” and Zorak, the evil praying mantis from “Space Ghost.” Good taste, yeah? I still think Zorak’s a fun guy! I blame my family just a bit, though. My parents were the ones who introduced me to Space Ghost, to Tim Burton, to Edgar Allen Poe, and to the fun of Halloween. I remember late nights spent watching early episodes (maybe from the late 1960s or 1970s) of Doctor Who and The Twilight Zone with my dad, totally absorbed in the creepiness and mystery.
There was an episode of The Twilight Zone that always scared me when I was younger: the episode where a young boy talks to his dead grandma through his toy phone. She gives him the phone as a gift before she passes away, but after her death she continues to call him, her calls getting scarier and more possessive each time. She eventually starts putting him in more and more dangerous situations so they can be together again, which I believe is when the family realizes that the caller is in fact the dead grandmother. Pardon any errors, this synopsis is mostly from memory. I am currently debating whether or not I want to rewatch this, but I’m easily scared, so maybe now is not the best time. Or maybe I should rewatch this just to get into the full Halloween spirit.
Revisiting this little rambling recollection a day after writing the beginning, I decided it was probably a good idea to look that episode up to make sure I had the details right. The episode itself is called “Long Distance” and it is from the second season of the original Twilight Zone. I remembered this due to the fact that I have a DVD box set of the first three seasons. What I did not remember, however, is that this was the 58th episode of the show. I had to stop for a moment upon learning this. I was alone in the office with nobody to keep me company besides the hissing of the radiator. In the corner, next to my computer, I’ve collected a horde of strange things found in and around the office. The very first thing I had put in that pile was an old phone, not hooked up to anything, but kept neat and clean. I had put a label across the top: DESMOND’S PHONE—DO NOT TOUCH. I thought it was funny at the time, occasionally pretending I had an imaginary phone call to take. I do not feel the same way anymore, and as I stare down at this phone now, my skin crawls as I wonder who I would hear on the other side if it started to ring.