Metatalktail Hour: Mystery Train May 7, 2022 2:58 AM   Subscribe

Hello, dear friends. For this week's Metatalktail Hour, I'd like to ask you about the personal, tiny, enduring, inscrutable, seemingly insoluble mysteries that have haunted you. What small, unexplained episode from your own experience still leaves you scratching your head?

I'm talking more "odd moments" than cataclysmic life-changers or momentous twists of fate, but if you've ever said, "what the hell / how the hell did that happen? Or where did it go?, or where did it come from?, or what did I just see?, and never figured out the answer, tell, tell!

Or maybe you did figure out the answer, many years later. That would be fun to hear about, too. Or maybe you just want to talk about some other shit this week. That, too, would be totally cool (except for you know, The Politics).
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 2:58 AM (49 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Not a tiny thing, as it probably saved my life, but I spent much of '89 '90 and '91 cycle touring and long-distance walking here and there. One day in late May '90 I was pedaling down the (very narrow, two-lane) highway south of Anchorage en-route to Seldovia (which I highly, highly recommend pic taken at Hope).

Very little traffic, and there had been an ashfall (a recent eruption of Redoubt) which (I think) absorbed almost all vehicle sound, and I hadn't seen anyone for hours. "GET OFF THE ROAD NOW" it really was like that, shouted abrupt and brusque, I slowed a bit and a truck roared by, just missing me (there was a narrow shoulder and then a steep bank for much of this part) .. and on I cycled "GET OFF THE ROAD" I got off the road .. and a truck roared by with almost no pre-warning noise - happened maybe six times that day, and never again that trip). This stretch was definitely the most hazardous for vehicles that I rode on that trip.

At the time I was quite involved with church things but hardly godly, and very averse to pentecostal weirdness - I've never been a 'guided by voices' type. It just seemed to be a connection to an other.
posted by unearthed at 3:53 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Funny you should bring this up - we recently got our annual birthday card.

We get a lot of mail directed at the old owners of our home. Every year around April, though, we get a birthday card. The envelope is hand written in a shaky, childlike script. It has our address on it, but a single name that is not either of our names or the names of anyone that's lived here since at least 2003. No return address. The card inside is the same every year - balloons on the front, a simple "happy birthday" platitude on the interior. It is not signed; rather, there are three rough circles drawn in the card in red ink.

It's postmarked in Boston, so someone relatively near to us is sending it, but we don't know who. Or why.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:14 AM on May 7 [21 favorites]


I make oatmeal for myself every morning in the fall and winter. Old Fashioned oats in a bowl, bowl in the microwave for 2:30. Inevitably the bowl would overflow a bit every time. Being lazy and half-awake, I used to just clean up the overflow and move on my with my day. Every now and then I'd think "I should put a plate under the bowl to catch the overflow" but since this was all happening first thing in the morning when I've got the brain capacity of a shoe, it took me a while to put this plan into action.

And when I did - like, the very first time I actually put a plate under the bowl - the oatmeal didn't overflow. And then again, and again, and again. I put the plate there to solve the overflowing oatmeal problem, and I guess it has...but not in the way I expected. On days when I forget the plate, I have to clean up oatmeal. On days when I put the plate there to catch the oatmeal, it doesn't overflow.

I'm sure there's a scientific answer for this, but I prefer the mystery. I like to think it's some kind of warding magic in which the plate somehow soothes or intimidates the oatmeal to stay inside the bowl.
posted by Gray Duck at 5:33 AM on May 7 [18 favorites]


I am here for the spooky.
posted by Glinn at 6:12 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


Before internet times, I kept a Bible on the shelf with other reference books in case I was editing something in need of that kind of fact checking. One day I was looking for it and couldn’t find it anywhere. I mean anywhere. After turning the whole damn house upside down and shaking it over a white sheet, I eventually discovered it under the bathroom sink. To this day, nobody knows how or why.
posted by scratch at 8:17 AM on May 7 [11 favorites]


In the mid-80s, I want to say on a late afternoon in the summer, I saw a faint fireball in the sky, burning along so slowly I was able to go inside and get a cheap refracting telescope to get a better look. I had seen plenty of meteors at night, but nothing like this--so slow, so large, visible in daylight, and relatively low in the sky. I couldn't see much, but some details were visible in the flaming orange smear--darker parts, semicircular elements, etc.--that made me wonder if I was seeing the bottom of a large rocket, but only the flames. It was taking so long to fade that I remember getting bored with it. There was nothing in the news about it later. It's lost now, but I made a little sketch of it with the date, time, direction, etc. to remember it better.
posted by Wobbuffet at 8:23 AM on May 7 [7 favorites]


The Case of the Bathroom Snake. Not the kind that unclogs pipes, a real snake. I had gone out that morning and left the bathroom window open, and when I got home in the afternoon there was a garter snake on the sink, curled around the soap dispenser. Definitely a live snake, since its tongue was flickering in and out.

After a bit of pondering, I decided the best way to deal with the situation was with thick rubber gloves (I don't know my snakes very well and it was probably a harmless garter snake but ...), a broom and dustpan and out the window you go my little friend. But this window is on the second floor and overlooks the neighbor's 1st-floor roof, no overhanging trees that it might have fallen out of, no alluring greenery it might have climbed up, just walls and roofs. Why on earth did it climb into a second-floor bathroom? And then get chummy with my soap? To this day I have no idea.
posted by Quietgal at 8:58 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


When we adopted our second dog, our wireless computer mouse and TV remote both completely disappeared. They did not turn up when we moved. Knowing that dogs like to mouth at things that we touch, we always wondered... Did the dog eat them? Battery and all? And suffer zero effects?
posted by muddgirl at 9:15 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


Muddgirl, check under the bathroom sink.
posted by scratch at 9:18 AM on May 7 [12 favorites]


I generally own one pair of sneakers at a time. I wear them to work out, to run errands, to do yard work. I am a generally neat and methodical person. I take both shoes off at the same time and either leave them in the bedroom or put them in the closet. BOTH SHOES. like ya do, right?

well one morning a few weeks ago I went to get these shoes and only one was in the closet. um weird...where is the other shoe? its not like I would only wear one, or only take one off in a given moment, or take one off and then move to a different location to remove the other.

I searched my whole small house, my car, everywhere. the shoe is just GONE. it has not turned up in all this time, even after I bought new shoes (which I assumed would cause the missing one to show up...) like socks in the dryer...
posted by supermedusa at 9:31 AM on May 7 [11 favorites]


One summer night in the 1950s when I was a little kid living in a small town in Idaho, I was standing in our driveway looking south.

All of a sudden the sky silently flashed to a bright daylight blue and outlined the trees across the street before suddenly fading back to a second twilight and then dark -- all in a matter of seconds. It was so spooky.

When I happened to recall it a few years ago, I realized that daylight sky most likely came from a night time atomic bomb test in Nevada.
posted by y2karl at 9:42 AM on May 7 [22 favorites]


wow y2karl wow!
posted by supermedusa at 9:54 AM on May 7


I must add that the daylight part of the sky was a band extending at most to 20° above the horizon.

I saw some other spooky things in the night in that town. Once I saw a fireball meteor a quarter of the diameter of the moon break up and burn away -- and an aurora extending to the zenith in i958.
posted by y2karl at 10:09 AM on May 7 [6 favorites]


A few months ago I lost my rings. These were two beautiful, precious 1940's rings that belonged to my grandmother. I love these rings, wear them every day. Looked high, looked low, looked in, looked out, and I was baffled because I do not go anywhere. There was no place outside my home where I could have lost them. I didn't even remember taking them off. We moved apartments... surely I'll find them, I thought. No, packed everything up, moved everything, no rings. I grieved their loss.

Well. Last weekend, I go on a cleaning bender, and because I remembered a collection of dirt and dust inside the couch underneath the cushions that I never take time to clean, I slowly puuuuuuuulled the cushions up in order to vacuum underneath them. And the rings. Were. There. IN THE VELCRO. They had been stuck in the Velcro, between the couch and the cushions. Unless you fully removed the entire cushion and looked in the Velcro, you would never have seen them. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THEY GOT THERE. Ring gnomes I guess. I am so grateful that I went on a cleaning bender. I am so grateful that they didn't fall out during the move. I am so grateful that I didn't vacuum them up. I have my rings back now. All is well!
posted by rogerroger at 10:24 AM on May 7 [20 favorites]


I may have posted this here before.

I was a kid, playing on the livingroom floor. My grandmother was sitting on the couch. The phone in the kitchen rings. My mother picks it up, listens for a bit and hangs up hard. She runs into the bathroom crying hysterically. My grandmother asks, "What happened?"

Without thinking I say, "Uncle Vinny died."

I found out much later that I was right. How did I know? I didn't hear anything. Just out of the blue. Still can't understand it.
posted by Splunge at 10:37 AM on May 7 [8 favorites]


I had one similar to that, Splunge -‌- I was at an all-day CPR event, teacher training to get certified. At the beginning they told us about the door prizes, and the Grand Prize was an iPod (this was '08) and I immediately thought, "That's my iPod." And at the end of the day, when the prizes were announced, I discovered that it was! And the renamed RashPod (a 3rd generation Nano) is still working fine, the only Apple product in the house.
posted by Rash at 12:16 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


When my daughter was a baby, one of her board books was Big Red Barn. When she was about 11 months old, we found that every time we got to a certain page in that book she would start to cry. (It took a couple of days to figure out what was going on. At first, it just seemed like random incidents of crying for no reason and then I realized, Hey, wait a minute, the last time she did this weren't we at exactly the same point in the same book?) We put the book away for a while and then I tried it with her again in a couple of months, but she still found that page disturbing. And she still didn't have the language to explain why. We put it away again and by the time she had the verbal skills to explain why she didn't like something she didn't remember crying about that page and wasn't particularly bothered by it anymore.

It was the page that's 5th from the bottom in this PDF of the book.
The hens were sleeping on their nests.
Even the roosters took a rest.
The little black bats flew away
Out of the barn at the end of the day.
I guess I can see why it might be a bit disturbing compared to the rest of the book. It's darker and the animals are mostly in silhouette and you see them from behind as they're walking back to the barn. But I would love to have gotten an explanation of what specifically she hated so much about it. Was it the overall vibe? A specific animal that looked weird and scary? It will always be a little mystery.
posted by Redstart at 2:16 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]


But I would love to have gotten an explanation of what specifically she hated so much about it. Was it the overall vibe? A specific animal that looked weird and scary? It will always be a little mystery.

I've never seen this book before. When I get to that disturbing page, it disturbs me, too. What's that... messy brown stuff in the middle? I find it an odd composition, to have that mud pit in the middle of the page with all the brown animals, because it looks like some of them are mashed and smeared.

On the other hand, it could just be that she doesn't like them all going to bed -- either because that means bedtime for her, or because night can be scary.

My kid used to freak out watching In the Night Garden when one of the characters went to bed. Turned out it was because the character went to bed by himself and no-one tucked him in.
posted by xo at 2:30 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


Back in the late 70’s I was in a pretty scary bicycle accident (I hit my head really hard on a telephone pole, concussed, and passed out). Later that same day, when I told my mother what happened, she said that at (what we think was) that very moment, she was pulling into a parking space, and braked very hard because she suddenly *knew* I’d just been injured.
posted by dbmcd at 2:35 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]


This is actually a mystery that didn't happen. I don't think I've told this here before but it has to do with the time I was almost bamboozled by the Bermuda Triangle.

Back in the early 90's I sailed with a bunch of gen-u-ine NASA rocket scientists from the Chesapeake Bay over to Bermuda and back. They were a very particular bunch who had some good stories, some personality quirks, and were all more than happy to out-brain each other on any and every point that arose (“how big is the water tank? Let me show you a better way to figure that out...” and etc). And all good sailors - knew what they were doing and made no big deal of it. A good crew to sail with.

The trip takes five to seven days each way. For a lot of east coast sailors it's a bit of a rite of passage, a manageable blue-water trip: Five days or so out of sight of land - which is no small thing, and then back again. The only quirk of the trip is the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream rips through the Atlantic at that point like a coffee poured into a glass of milk. It flows at speeds of between four and six knots (five-seven mph ish)swirls and eddies and tints everything with its warmth. The weather around the Gulf Stream is a little different and if the wind is in the right direction, the waves build up big and square or sometimes big and round. It's a change in the character of the ocean that is so big as to be hard to pin-point but none the less omnipresent and perceivable. Determining the borders of the stream is(was) often done with a thermometer as the water is reliably warmer, but otherwise its often just by feel. As the eddies spin out, away from the centre of the stream, the water cools and it can be difficult to know if you are in an eddy or not. This is(was) problematic because sometimes, though cooler, the eddies still moved quickly.

We were three days out from Bermuda, about half-way-ish and due to hit the Gulf Stream but we hadn't yet. It had been a pretty tepid trip, not much wind and when there was no wind, motoring - but the boat was not that big and the motor really only moved us along at 5knots which, the boat-load of NASA scientists had figured out, exhaustively, was the motor's most efficient speed and the speed which should be maintained (preserving supplies is an issue on the ocean and you calculate your fuel and water and use them accordingly. We could have motored back to Bermuda at any given moment - was the plan - if we had to.) The morning was warmish and calm and we were sailing, slowly but sailing, at around 4,5 knots (which was average for this boat, not very fast generally.)

Just before the trip, the captain (such as it were) had bought a new-fangled GPS unit with a plotter function. State of the art at the time. Because of the scarcity of memory, it would only mark the boat's position so many times per minute and only preserve a couple hours of location points. I don't remember precisely, but I remember it as a little trail of dots on the screen and because of our speed and the length of time stored, this trail was not long.

According to the compass and the log (speedometer), we were sailing at 4,5 knots just south of west, so like 250 degrees. At lunch we had sandwiches and a small front and squall hit us, the winds kicked up, suddenly spun around to the north and got cold. It rained a little and we all scrambled for foul-weather gear and by the time we were all sorted out, the squall had passed and the wind slowly puttered out. The sky remained overcast and it was still cooler. The whole atmosphere had changed and, annoyingly, with no wind, really, we had to talk about what to do. Under sail we were good for 4 knots, with the motor 5-ish, but the motor was loud and not that much faster, really, and if the wind picked up again... it didn't and eventually we put the motor on and chugged forward at 5-ish knots until the wind changed again and was strong enough so we could put the sails back up. It was not until some point very early the next morning that we felt we were in the Gulf Stream. It had been a weird afternoon though, with the weather flopping over and then petering out but still malingering and before coming in again from yet another direction.

Ten years earlier, before GPS, we would have made land-fall an extra day or so later (four instead of three) and a hundred or so miles up the coast from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and with no rational, definable reason why. Maybe we would have remembered the small squall, maybe not. I am confident that a few of the crew would have spun out fantastical yarns about the time they got sucked into the Bermuda Triangle - they would have been show-stoppers.

I would be telling that story here.

Instead, we had the poky plotter laying down its dots. And the dots told a crazy story. As the squall hit, we entered an eddy of the Gulf Stream, and this eddy pulled us north and east! at 5+ knots, we thought we were sailing south of west at around 4.5 knots, which means we were going backwards and northwards for about eight hours, at 1.5knots. We put on the motor at some point and stayed still, no matter what course. We didn't have the motor power or wind power to get out. We knew the eddy would putter out before too long, so we waited it out, spending the time trying to outwit ourselves and come up with speed the boat did not have, and watched as the plotter showed us being spun in a big circle (though we always pointed west) by the eddy. By mid-night we were out of it and resumed moving forward, corrected our course (because we had spent 12 hours going north, and then more time not correcting for current, someone calculated it would have off-set us by a hundred miles or so by the time we got back. As to using a sextant – there was no sun, no horizon to shoot, at night the same. It would have been a perfect mystery!) and got back to the Chesapeake after a little longer than expected, but without real event. *Except that we knew, now, the secret of the Bermuda Triangle!*
posted by From Bklyn at 2:45 PM on May 7 [29 favorites]


For the past couple of years, I've been suffering from bouts of hives. They're idiopathic (says the allergist), but recently they've been completely quiet for most of the week but would always break out on a Friday for seemingly no reason. But a couple of days ago I made pasta, and grabbed a couple of basil leaves from the plant, and whoah! Insta-hives on my hand! I even touched a leaf to my lip, and got the tingle of "this is toxic/an allergen". Previously, I'd loved basil, but I guess this is my basil-free life now.

And why hives on a Friday? The last few months I'd been working late on a Thursday. A new Italian restaurant opened along from my office. Their pizza is so good: guess who'd been ordering with extra basil on top? Must've been a systemic reaction causing the Friday hives ...

(I do have one event that has mystified me for more than a decade, but it's exceedingly gross and I imagine even an anonymous AskMe would get bounced because eww. No, it's not about giardia.)
posted by scruss at 3:06 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]


My father, an astrophysicist, once worked doing top secret space stuff in White Sands, New Mexico. Once we were older, we kids were convinced that he worked at Area 51, not the nearby missile launching facility. That belief persisted in part because he quietly admitted that he believed in UFOs and that life could exist on other planets. Given that Dad always always insisted on evidence, preferably collected and documented in accordance with best scientific practices, that was pretty interesting. Moreover, he never denied working at Area 51 (and was always honest to a fault), including long after we were adults.

Anyway, as Dad lay dying from something the doctors couldn't identify, two feds from DOD arrived, flashed badges and kicked everyone (family and medical staff) out of the hospital room. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, they left; Dad stated that he could not discuss their visit. We have no idea who they were or how they knew to show up. And it was Christmas Eve. Later that day, we were given a diagnosis: melanoma with no specific origin. If so, it was incredibly virulent; he went from feeling a little under the weather to dead in a week, and the original screenings had shown no bio-markers. Dad passed away 24 hours after his diagnosis.

There is an explanation that makes sense--he had a large nevus removed as a child which required a skin graft--but all the same, we've always wondered if the "diagnosis" was manufactured to match that history and if his death was really caused by something else... something, um, alien.
posted by carmicha at 3:12 PM on May 7 [19 favorites]


Here's a genetic mystery that took about thirty years to clear up.

Our story begins around 1991, when my dorm roommate showed me the notice for free Tay-Sachs screening on campus that afternoon. Nobody had ever had Tay-Sachs in my family, so it didn't seem hugely relevant, but still, as an Ashkenazi, I'm high-risk. So why not? Annnnd the test came back positive. Cue understandably freaked-out parents (who got married before Tay-Sachs screening became a thing). Where had the gene come from?!

Flash forward to late last year. My mom, who has an MA in History, got very interested in genealogy after she retired. One day, she noticed that someone had claimed her grandfather as a relative on Ancestry. Now, this was intriguing, because this guy has been sort of a genealogical one-off--not even an unaccounted-for distant cousin to be found--but also baffling, because the guy who did the claiming had a name that you more commonly associate with Irish Catholics than Ashkenazi Jews. Moreover, you get false claims in Ancestry all the time, because people wrongly assume that Person A Named X must be the same as Person B Named X, which, no. So, Mom politely messaged him and asked about the connection. Oh, he responded, he was related to one of her gf's sisters.

From one of his what? No, seriously, what? What sisters? Where?

He put her in touch with another relative who was also seriously into genealogy, and together they did a deep dive into all the available documents. And, lo and behold: mom's gf had two sisters never before spoken of by any of the guy's five kids, her own mother included. To be fair, this guy was, um, not the nicest person in my family tree by a longshot, and so it's quite probable that he was not on speaking terms with his sisters. Anyway! Presto, instant great-aunts, and a sudden onslaught of previously-unknown second cousins.

And, as it turns out, a record of at least one child with Tay-Sachs. Mystery solved!
posted by thomas j wise at 5:28 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Supermedusa, some how, someone's dog, sneaked off with your shoe. As for me, I have crossed paths with some unfortunately famous people. There was never anything I needed or wanted enough, to offer myself in trade. Oh, and Gordon Cooper in his book, "Leap Of Faith," talked about sentient spaceships, whose oily/ slimy surface, caused idiopathic liver disease. I worked for a woman whose dad died by this description, after having worked out there, at area 51.

My dad insisted the Air Force blue Book never revealed anything, yet he insisted I read Gordon Cooper's book. I once saw a low fireball, whizzing due south, in the broad afternoon daylight, it was low enough to hear. I never thought that it was possible to die of boredom...
posted by Oyéah at 6:41 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


A story from someone else is a large box left on a park bench with "bagels for you" written on it. I now write that on most things I'm trying to give away, as a weird joke that even I don't understand. The thing being given away is never bagels, but I think it conveys the intent and makes the world a little more weird.

A few weeks back, I got out of bed in the dark while wearing wireless headphones and one dropped out of my ear and absolutely vanished. I spent a long time turning over the bedding, lying on the ground with a flashlight, moving furniture, thoroughly searching the room, looking in potted plants and checking that it didn't roll under a closet door. It turns out that somehow the thing happened to fall into the exactly-headphone-sized gap between the corner of the rectangular bed frame and the not-quite-rectangular mattress that sits in it, with the right-angle in the headphone aligned with the corner in the only orientation where it could have fit.

In other news, I just saw John Waters, who is promoting a novel, live on stage. I recommend seeing him any chance you get. I suspect he may actually be immortal. I hope so.
posted by eotvos at 8:30 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Many years ago I was sleeping over at a friend's place. Neighborhood up against the mountain, a bit wild. Houses spaced out from one another. Very dark at night with few street lights.
We were woken in the middle of the night by a woman's voice begging to be let in. She sounded drunk, or confused.
It took us a while to respond as we were half asleep and also a bit freaked out, (very dark, very windy night) but when we got to the door we heard her knocking on, there was no-one there. To get to that door she'd have had to climbed over a extremely tall, spiked wall, or got through a locked gate. Both to get to the door, and to get away again.
I don't believe in ghosts, so it had to have been a living person.
My friend and I decided the right thing to do was to go looking for her. We were dressed in our pyjamas and my friend was armed with a small frying pan.
We decided to make our way to the nearest neighbours' house, where we still saw lights on.
For some reason we decided it was a good idea to push our way through their hedge and go into the back yard. (Neither of us knew these people).
The back door, a glass sliding door, was standing wide open, and the lights were on inside. So this is South Africa and it's very unusual to let your house be open and unsecured especially at night, as most people are very aware of the possibility of robbers.
We were sure something was wrong.
We went inside. Why? I don't know.
There was a wallet, and a passport, and a ID book set out on on the table.
We called out, but nobody responded. The house felt empty.
We left, and went looking around outside for the woman, up and down the road, but didn't find anything.
At last we gave up.
I had a go back to Durban the next day, and I never found out more about it. As far as I know my friend didn't ask her neighbours anything.
It was partly the mystery of who the woman was, and how on earth she got to that door and then disappeared again, but also why did we behave so oddly, sneaking around in strangers' backyards and going into a stranger's house at night?
We were young (early twenties) and scared, and I guess something about the surroundings made us behave like dumb people in a horror movie.
posted by Zumbador at 10:06 PM on May 7 [10 favorites]


The semi-serious joke in my family is that I killed B. F. Skinner. In summer of 1990, teenage me inexplicably decided to read Walden Two, and I did not like it. My family was sitting around in the living room one night and I asked if B. F. Skinner was dead, hoping to write him a letter complaining about the book if he was still alive. My mother said she didn’t think he was dead, and I snarked, “Well, he should be!”

The next morning my mom was reading the newspaper over breakfast and the color suddenly drained from her face. B. F. Skinner had died the previous night.

Thirty- two years later, everyone who’s known me awhile still uses B. F. Skinner as a verb meaning to casually wish harm on someone and have it work.
posted by centrifugal at 10:22 PM on May 7 [14 favorites]


My father's family is a little enigmatic; they seem to have a weird connection with each other, for example all getting up to make a pot of tea at the same time without having discussed it. That is not the weird thing. The weird thing is that they have a family spirit they call Mrs. McCrystal who hides things, who they talk about as if everyone knows that a spirit lady creeps into your house and temporarily vanishes your stuff every day. Supposedly she came over with them from Ireland.

Mrs. McCrystal borrowed a shotput, a trumpet case, a pipe, several articles of clothing, the list goes on. If you ask her nicely, she will usually bring it back but put it somewhere weird (like under a bathroom sink.) If you suggest that this is simply a series of misplacements they act like you're crazy. Maybe three generations of my dad's family is trolling me. Maybe they are not.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:13 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


We have the guy who breaks into our house. Like I'll take a glass from the cupboard, see it's been used, and tell my husband, "you put this dirty glass in the cupboard," and he swears it isn't him. So I'm like, oh, huh, I guess some guy broke into our house, got a drink of water and put the glass back without washing. And my husband is like, yeah, that guy is an asshole.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:32 AM on May 8 [5 favorites]


In our house, it was Ghostie who was responsible for missing items. The worst time was when Ghostie took off with a library book I had checked out. We couldn't find it anywhere. We never heard from the library, so we eventually decided Ghostie must have returned it.

But the Fisher Price ferris wheel was never seen again.
posted by FencingGal at 7:13 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I've told the story of the mystery of n_o_d's birth dad... actually now that I am looking for that comment I realize maybe I didn't make it here, he did and I can fill in the blanks there: Klaus Fluoride, bassist, Dead Kennedys.

One of the weird things about having parents who were self-obsessed when they were alive and are now dead is that there are things in your life you just may not know the answer to. Like, why is my middle name Charity? Did my grandfather have any children with his first wife (my mother found out her dad had been previously married when she was an adult - her father had been sending alimony payments to his first wife. After his death her mom kept those payments up)? Did my dad really work for the CIA (I have a similar story to carmicha - feds showed up when my dad was in the hospital and he was just a normal businessman but he had an astrophysics degree....)? Why was there nothing to find when we did a background check on him after he died, surely his old car accident and speeding tickets should have been there but instead there was.... nothing.

And there were a lot of weird legends that people would tell about some of the larger than life people in the family and it was unclear if these were true. Was my grandfather really the first person to import Charolais cattle into the country? Was he the first White go master in the US? Did my dad really used to date Joan Baez? Did he teach Buffy Saint Marie how to play guitar? Why was there a ~300 pound motor in my mom's basement? How exactly did that Winslow Homer etching wind up at my dad's house?

I've gotten to the point where the answer to most of these is "I don't know and I'm not GOING to know" but for me and my sister who are both kind of reality-based individuals, it's just so strange.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:13 AM on May 8 [14 favorites]

We have the guy who breaks into our house.
I love it. I don't think I'll try using it at the moment. But, I'm keeping it in my pocket for the future. (Also, I'm having a hard time understanding anybody putting a dirty glass in the cupboard, except in the case where someone put the little tea spoons in backwards and they poked through the spoon holders and caused the spinny part of the dishwasher not to spin and then also put them away without paying attention to the fact that they were not actually clean. . . but, enough about my household. Making jokes within relationships is good. Almost always.)
posted by eotvos at 6:37 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I just wanna know how we all have a memory of some TV show opening where a dude gets his face painted over with a brush or paint roller and we still can't find a clip of it.
posted by The Adventure Begins at 9:38 AM on May 9 [18 favorites]


My ex was forever trying to identify a video game that was LIKE castlevania but was NOT castlevania. He had very detailed memories of the gameplay and the graphics and over the years, we acquired several castlevania-adjacent video games and none of them were correct. I think he'd also posted queries on Reddit or something. So, if you know a game that is like Castlevania but definitely not Castlevania, lmk.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:36 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


We were able to remodel my tiny little house and put an addition on the kitchen back in 2007. Since the entire back half of the kitchen side of the house would be missing, they put a temporary wall and door there, because I was still living and working in the house. My bedroom was steps away from this temp door. The lead carpenter, who was a great guy, used to listen to his boom box--sometimes progressive talk radio, which was kind of surprising to me since all the contractors I'd known previously were right-wing assholes, but also some music. Every night he cleaned up the work area, tucked all his stuff in the corner, and turned out all the work lights.

One night, I woke up about 3 a.m. and heard music, and thought it was coming from a car, since my bedroom is close to the street--but when it didn't go away, I got up and looked out the window and there were no cars. My neighborhood is super quiet usually, but the music wasn't going away; however, no one seemed to have any lights on that I could discern. Eventually, I realized it was coming from the kitchen area. There had been no music when I went to bed, and it takes me hours to fall asleep, and there had never been the hint of the radio still being on.

I was kind of terrified--I lived alone by then, and was on a corner, so it wasn't like there were neighbors on that side who could hear if I was being murdered. My heart hammering, I screwed up every bit of courage I had and got a flashlight and opened the temp door, swinging it around while inching over to turn on one of the hanging work lights, but I couldn't figure out where the switch was. I couldn't get any air in my lungs, scared that whatever had turned the radio on was waiting for me to pounce and kill me to its terrible soundtrack.

Finally, I got the damn light on so I could see more than the flashlight showed, and there was...nothing there. Just the boom box playing Creedence Clearwater Revival, one of their creepier minor-key songs--like, why did it have to be that song? I don't even remember which it was, but it was definitely creepy and I was muttering about why that one--and shadows from the empty space. The player switched to a new Creedence song, and I jumped. It took some time, but I got enough courage back and tiptoed over to the boom box in the corner, trying to find out if it had a timer or something--but I couldn't see one. There was nothing that indicated why it spontaneously turned on. It was such a big empty dark space that I didn't like being in there, so I unplugged it, and stuffed it under the carpenter's gear. I didn't get back to sleep till about 6 a.m., and then they were at the house for work at 7:30.

I told him about it and we laughed, but he said that no, there was no timer or anything for the device. It had definitely been off when he left--and I have super hearing, so I would have heard if anything had been playing before I went to bed. It never happened again. But I still really hate listening to Creedence.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:24 AM on May 9 [8 favorites]


Did my dad really used to date Joan Baez

Jeez, Jessamyn, among other things you are at least two degrees of Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs at the same time -- there is big voodoo in your mumbo jumbo. You should consider either exorcism or getting degaussed. Just to be on the safe side.
posted by y2karl at 12:44 PM on May 9


Well, three degrees perhaps. On the other hand, your dad's metaphysical gravity well may have pulled you into a singularity.
posted by y2karl at 12:54 PM on May 9


Jessamyn, among other things you are at least two degrees of Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs at the same time

I graduated from college with Bob Dylan's son (no not that one) and he was at my graduation. Arrived in a helicopter and kept his hoodie pulled so tightly around his face at all times that everyone was like "Who IS that?" until we figured it out. My dad was there too. They did not mingle. I probably need a degaussing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:43 PM on May 9 [9 favorites]


My library card. I was 10 years old. I put it on the living room coffee table. I KNOW I did. I came home, and I put it on the coffee table. When I went to look for it the next day, it was not there. It was not anywhere in the living room. It wasn't under the couch next to the coffee table. Or under the rug. I looked everywhere for it, and never found it. And it wasn't like the kitchen table that was cleared all the time, where someone might have accidentally swept it up. I was POSITIVE that I put it in a very specific place, and it disappeared.

I have three questions for G-d/Whomever when the roll is called up yonder: 1) why are men and women so bad at communicating; 2) why do cats act the way they do; and 3) WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THAT LIBRARY CARD??
posted by Melismata at 3:04 PM on May 9 [4 favorites]


Many years ago, I was in my 20s and broke. I was walking the 7 miles home from work because I couldn't even buy a bus pass that day. Ramen noodles was on the menu. Again. So, I am trudging home, hot, tired and hungry. I am walking up Clark St in Chicago. I am just past Fullerton St, not much more to go. I was living halfway between the Weiner Circle and the Burwood Tap. Anyway, I look down and there was a $20 bill on the sidewalk. I could step over it I guess. I was a little worried it was a prank and when I bent down to pick it up the fishing line would yank it away. Who cares? I am broke and there is a chance, a greater than zero chance it is going to be mine. Sure enough I picked it up no problem and looked around to see if there was anyone that remotely looked like they dropped it. Nope.

I am not a believer in miracles, but this was some sort of devine intervention. It was literally the bottom for me. From that day on, I started making money at work (Trader on the CBT) and have not eaten Ramen since the day before that. To this day I wonder why that $20 was sitting there for me who needed it way more than I would ever admit.

PS: I am frequently giving $20 to people on the street and people who appear to be without homes. Pay it forward.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:07 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


I just wanna know how we all have a memory of some TV show opening where a dude gets his face painted over with a brush or paint roller and we still can't find a clip of it.

There is an AskMetafilter about this buried somewhere.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:35 PM on May 9




In the late 1990s I popped out of my job for a break with the smokers (as was the custom, 10 mins break morning and afternoon). It was about 10.30am on a weekday. A man ran by, absolutely sprinting for his life, barefoot and completely naked except for a very serious pair of steel handcuffs behind his back. Nobody seemed to be chasing him. I still wonder what happened to that guy.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:40 PM on May 9 [6 favorites]


kitten kaboodle your story reminded me of a time when I accidentally created a creepy mistery for someone else.

When I was growing up, my elder brother had an excellent music collection on tape, and I was not allowed in his room. So of course I used to sneak into his room and steal his tapes, and he would take them back from me, indignantly. Sometimes the tapes he took back were not his in the first place.

I loved singing, and I *loved* playing with a tape recorder. I had one of those shoebox sized ones where you had to push down the record and play buttons at the same time to record. I used to experiment with it, recording all kinds of sounds and playing imaginary games that involved interacting with the recordings. Or making mix tapes of snatches of music and sounds to act as the sound track to a puppet show.
Also I loved recording myself singing, and then playing it back and singing the harmony part.

My brother took one of these tapes and recorded some music over it. A friend borrowed the tape and listened to it alone, late at night.

There was a long silence after the music stopped, long enough for them to forget a tape was playing. So they suddenly became aware that there was a little girl softly singing (of all things) "Away In The Manger" somewhere in their dark, empty house.

Scared the bejeebies out of them.
posted by Zumbador at 10:09 PM on May 9 [14 favorites]


I don't have any good mystery stories, my life is mundane, but Zumbador's story reminded me of this twitter thread from author Cherie Priest about siblings and dictaphone tapes - don't miss the link to the epilogue.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:46 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


About 25 years ago, when I was in my early 20s, I went to a party with my boyfriend at a friend's house who lived near our college. (I was done with college at that point but still living and working in the town). At the party, I was talking to a guy I knew slightly, who was a grad student in my department. During the course of the conversation, I learned that the guy was 28 years old, and was very surprised by this--partially because he looked young and partially because at that point 28 seemed surprisingly old, to the point where I wasn't sure why he was hanging out with us. My boyfriend wasn't in or near the room during the conversation.

After the party, boyfriend and I were lying in bed, with my head on his shoulder and his lips against my forehead. We'd been talking a little bit about the party, but I didn't mention my conversation with the grad student, and we hadn't said anything at all for a few minutes. I was still mulling over party stuff and the thought floated through my head "man, I can't believe that John M is 28." My boyfriend removed his lips from my forehead and said, "28."

"What did you just say?" I said, and he said, "that's what you were thinking, 28."

Neither of us have ever been able to explain this. He couldn't provide any more context than the number, and when I asked, he said he hadn't talked to the guy in question at the party. I'm pretty sure the music would have been too loud for him to have overheard the conversation. So it remains the closest brush with ESP that I've encountered in my life.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:38 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]

1) why are men and women so bad at communicating;
While I agree, I've also been present during enough fights among queer couples (as a kid or a friend at a horribly awkward dinner gone wrong) that I think the statement could be much more broad. Nearly everyone is bad at communicating, especially about important things. A few people don't care and a small fraction of those are lucky enough to have found each. Best wishes.
2) why do cats act the way they do
They're actually demigods and attachés of Eris who've been sent here to make things more interesting for humans. We give rats mazes. Cats give us cats.
3) WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THAT LIBRARY CARD??
What's it worth to you to find out? (This is how extortion works, right? On a public website, with a total stranger, about things I have no knowledge of? I'm new at this.)
posted by eotvos at 4:13 PM on May 10


Okay, so the 1970s tv movie "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" scarred me for life. I cannot stand anything glowing in my room in the night (little glowing men who are coming for me!)

What I've NEVER been able to find out, however, is that i swear I saw this same movie, but in black and white and set in the 1940s. I remember the big old car (1930s/40s); I remember the house was much more Victorian in nature. I remember when the female lead is being pulled down the stairs by the little demons, the camera she uses to temporarily stop them had one of those huge round flashes (like the kind used by classic papparazzi). But I've never been able to find out anything to say this previous version even exists.

It gnaws at me all the time. I couldn't have invented this whole thing, as I saw the black and white version before the color one, and was convinced that the tv one was a remake.
posted by annieb at 2:36 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


In the summer of 2004, I was visiting DC for a weekend on a shoestring budget. I took the train down and was staying in a somewhat-sketchy hostel, without much in the way of plans. As one does in hostels, I ended up making some new friends—a trio of young people from the UK who had finished up work as nannies and were touring around, blowing their hard-earned money before heading home.

Armed only with my vague memories of a 7th grade field trip, a photocopied map provided by the hostel, and a desire to get drunk (despite several folks being underage), we set out for the evening. Alcohol was duly obtained, and shenanigans ensued. My companions, who were leaving the next day, decided they wanted to see the monuments, so we made our way to the Mall and wandered around the Tidal Basin area for a while. Eventually, we ended up sitting on one of the big stone plinths that flank the Lincoln Memorial steps, just hanging out.

At some point, we noticed there was an official-looking black Town Car that had stopped, basically as close to the Monument as you could get a car (so probably on the Circle, which may have still been open to traffic at that time, I'm not sure). The driver walked around and opened one of the rear doors, and someone got out of the car. I think they must have just been standing by the car for some time.

My (drunk) companions speculated that perhaps this was a celebrity, and several decided—after a few confidence-building flask-pulls—to walk over and say hello. I, and at least one other person, decided to remain uninvolved; the better to bail them all out of jail later.

They ambled over to the person/car, had what appeared to be a very animated conversation, took some (film camera—recall this was 2004) selfies, and eventually came running back to the plinth.

Someone: "The man in the car—he's someone in your government!"
Someone: "He said his name was Tommy Thompson, Secretary of something"
Me: "…Health and Human Services?"
Someone: "Ay that's it. Do you know him?"
Me: "Uhhh, no."
Someone: "He was very nice, we got pictures with him and everything."
Me: "Did he say... what he was doing here?"
*crickets*

To this day, I have no idea what Mr Thompson was doing down by the Lincoln Memorial in the middle of an (admittedly very nice) summer night, in what I presume was an official vehicle. Was he just doing what we were: taking in the sights? Did he have his driver stop there after a long day, in hopes of drawing some inspiration from the Memorial? (All I can think of is the Team America: World Police montage.) Maybe the dude just wanted to have a smoke in peace, and ended up getting accosted by a passel of tipsy British au pairs.

It has always been, and probably always will be, a minor DC mystery.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:30 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


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