Will wonders never cease? Last week I was thinking about what my next column would be about, and then I walked into the Green Park Inn. It’s a quaint, little hotel tucked away in the mountains of western North Carolina in the town of Blowing Rock. I knew this would be the topic of my next column because it just looked odd. Like a museum run by the cast of Clue. I even called the check-in lady “Miss Peacock” and asked if they had a billiards room and a lead pipe. All I got was a weird look. I get that look quite a bit.
First, about the town itself. It is so called because there is a giant rock that juts from the side of a hill. Legend has it that a long time ago, around 1984, a young native American girl met a young native American boy. They fell in love and “got it on” back in somebody’s wigwam. But when the warrior was called to serve his tribe in battle, he could not make a decision on what to do. He therefore jumped from this jutting rock, supposedly to his death. But while the young Indian lass wept and grieved, he was carried back to the rock by a gust of wind. They fell madly in love and built a casino, only to be shut down by the man. Something like that. But that’s why they call it Blowing Rock, because the wind currents next to the rock blow up. Honestly. I’m even told that in the winter time, snow falls up. Granted, snow weighs a lot less than an Indian warrior, but I didn’t write the legend, folks.
But that is the legend, give or take a couple of lines in it… like the part about the casino and it being in 1984. I think it happened before that- some time after Columbus’ voyage but before parachute pants and Max Headroom. Honestly… around 1650 or so. I was told this legend at the Rock itself. And when I heard it, I had to ask, “But if he tried to kill himself and was blown back to the rock, wouldn’t he still have the decision to make- serve his tribe in battle or be with his baby’s mama?” Nobody had the answer, but I do sympathize with the young Indian’s decision. This was in a time before office supplies, so it’s not like he could just play paper-rock-scissors with his tribal chief to determine his answer. It would be a constant rock-rock tie, and they would both die of exhaustion before the battle ever started. If they only had a game called buffalo-rock-arrowhead, this all could have been avoided. But if that happened, we wouldn’t have such a lovely legend to pass on to the apathetic, indifferent next generation while they mastered Playstation and paralyzed their friends with professional wrestling moves in their backyards.
Anyway, I was there to do a show with my good buddies Jesse Perry (www.mangydog.com) and Matt Sterling, who came down from Nashville separately. We drove separately because of our different schedules and not because of our desire to refuse carpooling in an effort to destroy the giant panda. What does that mean? Anyway, we did the show in front of a whopping 25 people, half of which looked like they were pissed that they missed a Matlock rerun to watch our show. But they left happy, and that’s what matters.
In my show, I made a comment about the hotel looking like it was the subject of a Hardy Boys book, and that it was probably haunted. It had been there since 1882, for crying out loud. Every structure that’s been around that long has to be haunted. It’s a fact in the Library of Congress, or a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum… one of the two, but they’re both synonymous in my book.
Sure enough, after the show the hotel staff told us the place was haunted and filled us in on the ghost stories. The main ghost is a girl who hanged herself after being left at the altar. I immediately said, “There sure is a lot of suicide going on around here. Maybe this town needs a smooth Jazz radio station. Something to calm you people down.” Once again… weird looks.
So this young lady roams the halls of the third floor, where some say she’s looking for her fiancé. Sorry, lady, but if he left you at the altar, chances are he’s long gone somewhere else, maybe picking up Indian chicks on mountain rocks.
But I didn’t say that there. I believe in ghosts, and I didn’t want to rile this one up… which is exactly what the cook did. His story is that when he started in the kitchen, he said out loud, “I won’t believe in the ghost here until it draws blood.” After he said this, a knife fell off a hook and made a small cut in his hand. The ghost, after hearing the offer, drew blood. She drew blood!!! The cook swears to this story. Spooky, yes, but easily avoidable. Even if you are skeptical, why say something like that? Why not start off with something on a lesser scale, like “I won’t believe in the ghost until I… lose my keys… or get a cold?” Drawing blood is just a bet I would feel uncomfortable making, not to mention losing. This story led to another question… “Why are you still working here?” Seriously, is the money that good? This specter obviously has no Casper genes to her. She’s pissed and apparently doesn’t mind showing it. An occasional sound of footsteps would scare the crap out of me. But if cutlery falls anywhere close to me, you’ll see my happy ass applying for a nightshift job at the ghost-free Gas-n-Gulp down the street. “Sure the unleaded is 2 bucks a gallon, people, but we ain’t haunted!” That would be my ad hook. But I digress.
Also, two small children died of the flu there in the 1920s, and they can be heard playing at night sometimes on the third floor. Basically, folks, just stay away from the third floor spirit zone and you’ll be okay. Good thing we were staying on the first floor. Nothing for us but spooky bar stories and threats from Professor Plum. Good times.
We stayed up until about 2:00 AM listening to the tales of lore, and I have to admit… I was scared. I drank more and more so that I would have an easier time falling asleep. But alcohol has a weird way of affecting your system sometimes. The more I drank, the more courageous I got. You see, alcohol increases the size of a man’s balls. This is why kamikaze pilots drank before their missions. And why Ashton Kurtcher slammed tequila shots before asking out his mom’s friends.
So the more we drank, the more we were itching to go up to the third floor. We ascended the stairs into Gozer-country (side note: Ghostbusters… great movie!). I tell you what… Jesse and Matt are good friends and good people. I admire them both and I’m happy to know them. But if I saw a pissed off chick in a bridal gown, I would have mowed them down like bowling pins to get to the stairs. However, we saw and heard nothing. Of course we were only on the third floor for about 12 seconds before yours truly chickened out and pleaded with the guys to go with me back to the lobby bar, where we spent another hour playing buffalo-rock-arrowhead. Good times indeed.