Author Archives: Naomi Melville

Ghost Car Alarm


My informant, from Fresno California, recounts a paranormal experience.

“So here’s my ghost story. So. Last January, so January of 2022, my grandfather’s wife, so I guess my step-grandmother, died pretty suddenly. And that summer, we went to go visit him at his house, right? And we were there. And then all these little weird things started happening. Like, my grandfather gave me this pair of sunglasses that had been his wife’s and I put them down in a very obvious location but when I went to go back for them, they weren’t there. So I was like ‘Oh my god, is she hiding them from me?’ and then my mom was looking for them, and she was like ‘You know, if you don’t want her to have the sunglasses, that’s fine, but can you just show me where they are?’ and then she turned around and they were right there!

Another thing, is we were just sitting in the house and my step-grandmother had this car she liked to drive, and it hadn’t been used in a while, and all the sudden, the car alarm just started going off out of nowhere! And apparently that’s like a thing, like my mom said when her grandmother died, (she told me this story way before this happened) randomly the car alarm would go off in the grandmother’s car and people were brought over to look at the situation but could never figure out what was wrong with the car.”


“It’s like a thing I guess, like if you believe in ghosts, that ghosts will tamper with electricity and things like that to communicate because they’re limited. 

“I think it’s possible it was her ghost. I mean, I don’t know if I really believe in ghosts, but enough people have had enough supernatural experiences that I think it’s something to entertain. I guess it just means that she’s still around. She was there, or her spirit was there.”


I found it interesting that both the informant and her mother had experienced the phenomena involving their grandmother’s car alarms going off as a form of haunting, adding a generational element to the paranormal encounter. The informant’s tone indicated that the spirit or force was not dangerous or malevolent. She emphasizes that the experience just means that maybe the spirit of her grandmother is still around. This implies a belief in a soul that can exist outside of the body, and perhaps in an afterlife, although the informant did specify that she did not necessarily believe in ghosts (but is open to entertaining the idea).

The Green Ribbon


My informant, from Fresno California, told me a scary story she heard as a kid.

“This is kind of like a ghost story. There was once a woman, right? And a man. And they entered into a relationship. And things were going really well between them. Things were going great. They were going on these little dates, you know? But the thing is, she always wore this little green ribbon around her neck. Right? And he’d be like, ‘Why do you wear that?’ and she’d be like ‘Don’t worry about it’. So he’s like ‘okay…’

“So they continue on having their relationship. They get married. They have many children. The children grow up. They go to college. They’re very successful. 

“And their relationship continues, and he’s like ‘Hey, you still haven’t taken off that green ribbon, it must be pretty dirty under there. You even shower with it on.’ She’s like ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s, you know, a fashion choice or whatever.’

“And then the years go on, they’re in retirement, they’re playing golf together, everything’s great. But still. He’s like “Hey, we’re like 80. And you still haven’t taken off that green ribbon. And it must be dingy by now, but it’s, like, in good quality’ And she’s like ‘Ah, you know, I just like wearing it, I guess.’

“And then she starts to get really sick. And it’s really sad. She’s bedridden. And he’s tending to her. And the doctor comes out to him from the bedroom, cause it’s like the doctor that visits the house. And he says to the husband, ‘Look, she has like 5 minutes.’ And he’s like ‘Oh, damn, okay.’  So he goes inside. He’s like ‘You know, I gotta ask you, in our final moments… First, I love you, but also, why are you wearing that thing?? Still? You’re dying!’ She’s like ‘all right. I’ll show you, okay?’ So she pulls off her green ribbon, and her head topples off. And that’s the end of the story.”


“I think I first heard that like in elementary school, I think around Halloween, one of the teachers told us that one. I’ve told it maybe a few times, I think I also told it in Highschool, it was around Halloween, and in my English class my teacher was like ‘hey, does anyone have any ghost stories?’ I think I used that one.”


The informant took her time with the story, and was constantly checking in to see if I was still along for the ride. She also injected comedy whenever she could to try and keep it engaging. I think this approach is the result of telling this story in a larger setting, with many distractions (i.e., a classroom to other students.) This story has a ritual element to when it can be told: It’s a scary story, so it is told at Halloween, particularly at school. 

The Fresno Nightcrawler


My informant, from Fresno California, told me a story of a local cryptid.

“Around the parts where I’m from, we have this legend, this thing called the Fresno Nightcrawler, right? Now, no one really knows the origin of the Fresno Nightcrawler, right? Or like what it is, but that’s the mystery of it. Because there’s actual camera footage of like a camera set up outside of a Fresno residence where there’s this one white thing shaped like a U, right? Like walking on its legs? And you’re like, ‘What is that?’ And it’s like kinda grainy footage so you can’t really tell what it is. And then it has like a little child come out? Like a smaller one. And they’re kind of walking around together. And then they go back into the forest, and no one knows what it is, but I think people have said that there’s been sightings? I’m not really sure.”


“What I do know is that what really is more important about it is the joke, like ‘Oh, the Fresno–’ Like as an emblem of the city, if you will. Well, I wouldn’t say it’s an emblem, I don’t know. I was like, ‘Maybe if I wanna get a Fresno tattoo, I should get a Fresno Nightcrawler tattoo.’”


The informant’s assessment of the legend as a sort of symbol of Fresno may suggest that people in this area are seeking out something that will make their city unique. I think it is significant that the informant delivered the story in a humorous tone, and even noted that the important part of the legend is the joke. It does not appear to be a cryptid that the informant takes particularly seriously. Instead, The Fresno Nightcrawler seems to be a humorous symbol that residents of Fresno can perhaps find camaraderie in or share a laugh over. 

Kid-Friendly Beer-Pong

My informant (18), from Maryland, describes what she calls “Kid-Friendly Beer-Pong”. “So this actually a game that my older cousins and I always like create for ourselves. We play a lot of ping-pong but once we get bored of ping-pong, we take off the net and put ping-pong paddles all over the table and basically like stand from like a far distance from the table and throw the ping-pong ball and try to hit the paddles. And this is like a challenge we would do”

“This is like basically an appropriate beer-pong kinda thing, where you’re aiming for the ping pong paddles. And this is them telling me they’re preparing me for college. So we used to play this like when I was in middle and high school, and they’re like ‘you’re gonna be the best when you play beer pong in college’. And I didn’t know what they meant, but now that I’m in college I see that, like, beer-pong’s a game that a lot of people play and they were like preparing me. And i noticed that just in general my cousins are always preparing me for what life throws at me, for college, they’re always giving me advice for like social aspects and these little games also prepare me for what to expect in like a college environment.”

This game could be interpreted as a coming of age ritual, in a way, as it is information that the informant’s cousins passed on to her to prepare her for her next stage of life. We can expect that in this extended family, college is seen as an important step in development, both for the educational purposes, but also as a new social environment that the informant must prepare for.

“Made You Say Pink”

My informant (18), from Maryland, describes a riddle that she and her friends performed in middle school: “It’s not really a joke, but it’s more like a challenge, like a “are you dumb” challenge. So it’s like I bet I can make you say the color pink ‘okay’ okay so then you’re like ‘what’s the color of the sky?’ ‘Blue’ ‘What’s the color of this chair?’ ‘Brown’ ‘What’s the color of my hair?’ ‘Black’ ‘What’s the color of the grass?’ ‘green’ ‘Ha, I told you I could make you say green’ ‘no you didn’t, you told me you would make me say pink’ and that’s how you make them say pink”

“And so it’s like this little thing that my swim friends and I, back in the past, like middle school? We would just always perform this on each other to like try and get the other person and just to make them seem, you know, like it’s more of like one of those ‘stupid tests’”

The informant began by saying this was a joke, and then changed to calling it a challenge, and finally called it a “test”. I think this piece is actually a kind of riddle, because it tests the wits of the person it is performed on, but instead of wordplay, there is a “trick” meant to catch the subject. Because this is used within the informants team, it might imply that performing this trick affords the performer a kind of social capital in the group when they are successful, suggesting that intelligence is valued in the group.