Sunday, March 22, 2009

Iberian Mysteries (II) : The Haunting

watch 001

So, one Spanish mystery was cleared up (literally) during the week. On Friday I noticed that the condensation which had been fogging up the inside of my watch face had completely disappeared. Perhaps the exertion at, and higher elevation of, the Escorial on Thursday did the trick. Or the lugubrious shade of Felipe II was enough to scare away the condensation demons. Anyway, I am happy not to have to squint to tell the time any more.

But one moisture-related mystery has been replaced by another, potentially more perplexing. As generally happens to me when I've been fully immersed in Spanish for a while, occasionally I hit a week where it becomes hard to sleep. I've always taken this to be evidence that my brain is somehow working overtime, engaged in language-related extra processing activity during nocturnal hours. It doesn't bother me particularly, as this kind of sleepless week has, in the past, been accompanied by a noticeable improvement in my command of Spanish.

Anyway, this past week has been one of those weeks. Reading Don Quijote hasn't helped either. Even though it is, frankly, turning out to be a colossal bore, its episodic nature seems to be fueling strange shadowy dreams, not quite scary enough to be considered nightmares, but not particularly pleasant either, and definitely contributing to the overall poor quality of my sleep. Anyway, at around 4:15 am, I woke up to the sound of someone apparently taking a shower upstairs. At first, I thought "How, rude!", turned over and tried to get back to sleep. Then I remembered that there is no "upstairs" - as I live on the top floor. So I listened again, only to realise (cue creepy music) that the noise appeared to be coming from the bathroom in my own apartment. As I staggered out of bed to investigate, the shower noise stopped, but (cue really creepy music), when I turned on the light in the bathroom, the bath surface was completely wet, exactly as if someone had just been showering and had just turned off the shower.

Back to bed, distinctly spooked. I'd noticed strange nocturnal noises before around the apartment, but this was the first clear evidence of a haunting. Ten minutes later, the noise starts up again. Now I leap out of bed, and make for the bathroom. The noise subsides as I turn on the light, but the second shower head is definitely still dripping water, and the bathtub directly under it is completely wet.

march22_2009 001

There is, I tell myself, a (quasi) rational potential explanation for this. The shower heads in question (see picture) have this odd feature. There's a kind of a dustbin-lid shaped pan, through whose holes the water comes through. Depending on the orientation of the pan, relative to the horizontal, it can trap a certain amount of water, even after the flow has been turned off. Then, if its orientation is changed at some later point, this causes a runoff of the accumulated water.

That's what I tell myself at least. And indeed, this seems like a reasonable enough explanation for the first occurrence, though what mysterious force might have caused the pan to tilt enough at 4:15 on a Sunday morning is a question that remains unanswered. The part that really spooks me out, though, is the second, 4:25 am "shower", since I have never, in the month that I have lived here, actually turned on, or used that particular shower head.

It's probably just my overactive imagination that makes me positive that I didn't make up the bed before going out to get coffee this morning. So that I shouldn't make anything of the fact that the duvet was perfectly arranged, as if in a hospital infirmary, when I got back.

At least I know that, if there is a ghost in the apartment, it is a clean, neat phantom.

1 comment:

Bebe Bahnsen said...

As someone who has nightmares, I sympathize, and I'll try not to listen for my shower tonight.