It’s 11:45 PM on a rainy Monday night, and I’m alone at the office with a glow-in-the-dark Ouija board. I have all the lights on and I’m playing loud music to drown out any weird noises that I might hear. I am being a pussy.
Parker Brothers, the board game manufacturer now owned by Hasbro, still makes and sells Ouija boards. Growing up, I thought Ouija boards were only available at weird hippie stores, but you can pick one up at Wal-Mart. I got this one from Toys 'R' Us on 44th and Broadway for $22.99. It was in the board game section of the store, on a low shelf between Parcheesi and Justin Bieber’s Backstage Pass, a board game in which dice rolls enable players to creep ever closer to the stage at a Justin Bieber concert. The winner is the first person to reach backstage where, presumably, Justin Bieber is waiting with a boner like a housewife’s thumb.
Speaking of housewives, my mother has a story about a friend of hers who played with a Ouija board in the 1970s and went mad. Apparently she started contacting the "spirit world" all alone at night and they (the spirits) told her that in a matter of days she was going to die. Naturally, she went bat-shit crazy, and they had to lock her up. I don’t think she’s in the nut house anymore, but still, thanks, Parker Brothers. And ghosts, and probably schizophrenia, but thanks mainly to the creepy dude who invented the Ouija board in the first place. Who was that? Glad you asked.
In 1890, at the height of the Spiritualist movement, Elijah J. Bond created and patented the first modern Ouija board. The following year he sold the rights to entrepreneur William Fuld, who made the board famous by shopping it around like a motherfucker. Fuld said that his “talking board” was, without doubt, “the most fascinating entertainment for modern people and modern life.” He also claimed the board had named itself Ouija during one of his sessions with it. How creepy is that?
In 1966, Parker Brothers purchased the rights to the Ouija board and sold more than 2 million units in the first year of production, effectively beating Monopoly in sales for the first and only time in history. The Ouija board—a game about contacting long-dead relatives and deceased celebrities—actually outsold Monopoly. That’s weird. What’s even weirder is that Ouija boards can be traced back to the 4th century around the time of the Roman Emperor Valens. Valens was all about talking to ghosts with his buddies and getting freaked out. According to Wikipedia, he was also all about being beaten and burned to death by barbarians. That was a long time ago, though—literally ages—but believe it or not, Ouija boards were used even before that. The Greeks had a kind of talking board, way back when Jesus was just a twinkle in whoever it was who got Mary pregnant’s eye. Although it looked different to the Ouija board I bought today (it was all in Greek), it used the same principles for contacting the dead as a modern board: put your hand on the pointy thing and ask some questions. I won’t go on about it, but there’s evidence of alphanumeric "spirit boards" being used in China as far back as 1100 CE (BC), too. My point is: Ouija boards have been around since before Christ, but you can go buy one at Toys 'R' Us today. That’s not right, is it? Don’t tell me it is, because it isn’t. Yeah, chess is pretty old, too, but chess has nothing to do with talking to fucking dead people. Think about it. A centuries-old tool used for speaking with "the other side" is being sold alongside Shrek Operation. I’m just sayin’.
What it all boils down to, I guess, is whether or not you believe in ghosts. If you’re a woman, child, or homosexual, chances are you do believe. And if you’re an overweight woman, child, or homosexual, your chances increase with each blubbery pound. If you are a heterosexual man, however, you more than likely say you don’t believe in ghosts, but then when you’re alone in your office on a rainy night with a Ouija board in your lap, well, Pancho, that’s a different story.
Frankly, I don’t want to fuck with this thing because I’m afraid my subconscious might use it to speak to me through a process scientists call Ideo-Motor Response, or IMR.
IMR is the theory that thoughts bring about reflexive muscular reactions without your awareness. What that means is you might push the planchette (the pointy thing) around the board by yourself and not know you’re doing it. Which is actually creepier than the ghost of John Wayne Gacy doing it for you.
For the purposes of this review I should give it a shot, though, so here goes nothing…
Previously: I Am a Stuffed Animal