Informant: Lauren Herring
Background Information: Bloody Mary is a common legend in childhood that involves a sort of game of going into a bathroom, standing in front of a mirror, and saying “Bloody Mary.” As the legend goes, if you do this, some figure will appear in the mirror. I asked Lauren about her take on it, and the following was her response.
Lauren: That game was so scary. I was always way too scared to do it alone. But everyone said the upstairs girls’ bathroom in Elementary school was haunted by [Bloody Mary].
Me: Did you ever see her?
Lauren: No, not really, but I did have one really scary experience with it.
Me: What was that?
Lauren: Ok, so it was around the third grade, and the story was, like, huge. Like, everyone was talking about Bloody Mary in the girls’ restroom. I think it started because there was some story about a girl a year ahead of us who actually conjured Bloody Mary in that bathroom, and then everyone said she haunted it ever since then.
So, I raise my hand and ask to go to the bathroom one day in class, and I go, and as soon as I wash my hands, the power goes out and the paper towel machine starts ejecting the paper towels. Like, not as in they were crazy-possessed, but they were those automatic ones, and they just all started rolling out the whole rolls of paper towels.
And so obviously I’m freaked out, I’m like in third grade. And I run to the door, but it’s locked. And then I start really freaking out, and all I can think about is Bloody Mary.
It turns out that the school was having a lockdown, so that’s why the lights went out and the doors automatically locked. But it was so scary. Like I really thought I was going to die. Also why would the school have it so that the bathroom doors locked? Oh, and it didn’t explain the paper towel thing.
Conclusion: I went to school with Lauren, so I knew about the Bloody Mary in the girls’ restroom story, but I had never actually heard her whole story about her experience with it. It is interesting to note that, if taken in the context of a ghost story, Lauren’s experience didn’t fit exactly right with the Bloody Mary ritual. The way I’ve heard it, in the ritual, one is supposed to stand in front of the mirror and say “Bloody Mary” three times while spinning in a circle three times with your eyes closed. When you open your eyes, you are supposed to see Bloody Mary in the mirror where your body is supposed to be. But in Lauren’s story, she never actually summoned Bloody Mary. Rather, it came to her when she did not expect it.
For more versions of this legend and different beliefs about Bloody Mary herself and how she is summoned, see: (Dundes, Alan. Bloody Mary in the mirror: essays in psychoanalytic folkloristics. Jackson: U Press of Mississippi, 2002. Print.)