BREA, California – According to a traditional Scottish prayer:
From Ghoulies and Ghosties
And long-leggedy Beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
You hear this a lot when Halloween draws nigh. Did you ever wonder what this means? No? Me neither. But since you’re already reading this, I may as well explain a few things, given my British education about this kind of folderol.
First of all, the “ies” diminutive attached to ghoul, ghost and beast is just a Scottish thing. They’re always spouting things like “she’s a wee bit of a lass” or “the English are a nugatory people.” That is, they like to look at the world through the wrong end of the binoculars. They think it’s cute.
A ghoul is a supernatural creature that feeds on corpses. Another definition is grave robber. It’s actually an Arabic word (ghūl) that wended its way from the Middle East through Europe and wound up in the English language as ghoul. Of course, there is no such thing but movie script writers have made a good living by saying that they do exist.
A ghost is the earthbound spirit of a deceased person with a range of characteristics from Caspar the Friendly Ghost to Freddy Krueger. Here’s a ghost joke that ties in with the preceding paragraph. Who did the ghost take to his prom? His ghoulfriend. Hey, you try writing something funny. Comedy isn’t easy.
So why are the beasties long-leggedy? It’s rather simple. It’s because with long legs they can chase you down much more quickly. Out on the Scottish moors, your ass is grass if you can’t outrun the beasties. Think “Hound of the Baskervilles” by Arthur Conan Doyle. The hound wasn’t a dachshund.
Now we get to things that go bump in the night. If you live in an older house, you know that at night there are noises due to temperature changes. Expansion and contraction of wood make some pretty spooky sounds. Creaks and groans can sound an awful like ghostly manifestations. Water pipes can sound like chains rattling. Air cools off at night, becomes more dense and carries sound better.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen and whatevers. The time you spent reading this could have been better spent swiping your kid’s full-size Snickers bars out of his or her Halloween stash.