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Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody ... YOU CAN'T MAKE ME FINISH IT.

"Momma, do you know about Bloody Mary?" the still very much so six-year old asked from the back seat.

"Umm ... " I started. How do you answer THAT? I chose my words carefully so as to not lead the witness down an unnecessary path. "Why?" I asked. It's the safest non-answer to every question. I use it often.

Alexis replied, "Because me and my friend saw her today." Alexis couldn't see my silently mouthed response, but if she had, she probably would have learned a new word. Or ten.

She continued to describe the tale that I knew all too well, the tale about the girl that appears in the mirror if you go into a bathroom, turn off the lights, and call her name three times. Alexis' version was only slightly different than the one I have known since I was a few years older than her. In her version, there was spinning involved, which, really? That's genius. Go into a bathroom, turn off the lights, and spin around in circles. I'm sure that will end perfectly fine every time.


As Alexis told her version of the story, I marveled at how the urban legend has stayed so very intact for the nearly 30 years since I first heard it. How is it that a story can last 30 years and travel 1500+ miles and stay mostly the same? I can't tell Alexis to tell the husband a simple phrase and have it accurately repeated, but kids have been telling and retelling Bloody Mary's story for decades and keep getting it right? The hell?

Alexis described the girl with the long blond hair, red eyes, and very long fingernails. I thought to myself that she actually has brown hair, but the rest sounds about right. Amazing. She went on and on with the story, very much so enthralled by the horror of it all.

As she continued, I thought about how many nights of sleep I lost as a kid because of that stupid story. I was always one of those kids who was scared of the things that go bump in the night, often so fearful of potential nightmares that I didn't sleep. I *still* won't sleep with my hands or legs hanging even slightly over the edge of the bed just in case there is something under the bed that might grab me.

Shut up. I know there is at least one or two of you who are the same way. (Please say there are one or two of you who are the same way. PLEASE.)

Alexis finally finished telling me all about her adventures with Bloody Mary just as we were pulling into our driveway. I thought to myself that I was surprised she seemed geniunely interested in the whole thing and not at all scared. She's a bit of a wuss when it comes to creepy things, but then again, SHE'S SIX. She should be afraid of blood and strangers and things that can't easily be explained. Regardless, she certainly was handling it all better than I did when I first learned about Bloody Mary.

Fast forward a few hours to bedtime. I bet you can't guess what happened.

OK, so you can TOTALLY guess what happened.

Twenty minutes after being tucked in for the night, Alexis appeared before me sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. She was scared that Bloody Mary was in her bedroom and NO SHE WILL NOT JUST GO TO OUR ROOM BECAUSE THERE IS A MIRROR IN THERE HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY SUGGEST THAT.


She sobbed and she sobbed and I did everything I could to try to calm her down and focus her mind on fun stuff. I pulled up photos of cute kittens on my computer. I found some photos of dogs wearing sweaters. I searched for potential birthday party supplies and made promises of purchase in the next few days if only the kid would just go back to bed RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Nothing worked. Nothing at all.

So I resorted to that thing that I hate to do. I burst her bubble and ruined her childhood and told her that Bloody Mary is a dumb story that somebody made up. There's nothing real about her. I pulled up some web pages and together we read about the fact that there isn't even a hint of reality at the base of the story. Nada. Zip. Zilch. It is all made up.

Alexis eventually calmed down enough for me to escort her back to bed. Tears continued to fall, but most of them were mine because OMG, CHILD. GO TO BED.

Finally, she did. She crawled up into her loft and curled up in her blankets. I left the lights all on for her and made sure her favorite cat in the whole wide world made it to bed with her. Everybody was happy and cozy and on their way to dreamland as I ventured back downstairs to resume working on editing photos on my computer.

Which looked like this.

Three things:

1. A hard shut down fixed it, I think. I hope.

2. I promise to never ever EVER say Bloody Mary is fake again.

3. Go ahead and place bets on who will lose the most sleep because of Bloody Mary tonight.

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Reader Comments (22)

Uh, yeah, so... I don't like sleeping with legs or arms hanging over the bed. But it's totally because of... ummm... my cat! Yeah, that's it. Definitely don't want my cat attacking me. Ahem.

And by the way, that thing with your computer? Now THAT is some freaky stuff.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

Hands and feet over the edge are fine. But hell to the no will I ever go into a dark bathroom and look in the mirror. Bloody Mary scared the crap out of me as a kid and she might still scare me a decent amount now. That is some freaky shit. You know a friend's friend's cousin's girlfriend actually saw Mary and...

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Smiles

I am the same way! So glad to hear that there is another adult still creeped out by these things!!

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShyla

I REFUSE to have mirrors in my bedroom because of that. I um, actually will go to the bathroom (hand washing and all) with my eyes closed the ENTIRE TIME if there is no light in the room and I can't turn the light on for some reason. Thank God for small children who need night lights in the bathroom, lol.

Oh, and I remember the spinning info, and I'm almost 33.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

When I was about that age I caught a clip from "Fantasy Island" in which a female character looked into a mirror and saw a skeleton version of herself looking back at her. It took me years to get over that.

70's television was terrifying, yo.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott

I am happy that Bloody Mary is obviously an American girl, because we do not have that myth. Lucky for me, because you need to do a step into my bathroom to be able to switch on the lights and I often just don't when I just wash my hands (my bathroom is tiny and light from the hallway is enough).

I sleep with all body parts IN bed, but just because it is more comfy.

There is btw a Ghost Whisperer episode about Bloody Mary - it is one of the better.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

You are absolutely NOT the only one; I had a full length mirror on the back of my door as a child and if I had to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I remember squeezing my eyes shut and stumbling towards the door, fumbling around for the door handle and not opening my eyes until that door was all the way open. Because you know, what if one day she decided she didn't have to wait to hear her name 3 times? What if my subconscious was saying her name on my behalf, and she heard it in my head? Too much risk.

This behavior went on well into my teens. I also no longer have a full length mirror in my room. :)

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmmy

I heard the story as a child also, but a few years later I think. I hate seeing mirrors at night...sometimes I close my eyes when I have to pass one. Also, definitely no hands over the side of the bed!

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

When I was a kid, we called her Mary Worth. And you were supposed to go into a dark room, look in the mirror & say "I believe in Mary Worth" 3 times & she would come out (and make bloody scratch marks on your face, naturally). The older neighbor boys told me about it when I was 5 and 39 years (!!!) later, I STILL will not have a mirror in my bedroom. I have no choice in hotel rooms, but I try not to think about i. and sometimes, if I walk into a dark bathroom/bedroom with a mirror and I DO think about it - I find myself silently chanting, "I don't believe, I don't believe." I'm a little crazy.

I wonder if those neighbor boys have any grandkids? I might have some stories to tell them.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGina


I don't do the hanging over the bed thing, but I've been known to race up the stairs JUST IN CASE SOMETHING GRABS MY FEET.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I remember the exact bathroom where I learned about Bloody Mary. I only went to that school until I was in second grade, so I had to have been younger than eight. If the blinds are open, I close my eyes to go to the bathroom at night now.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Ski

Am I the only one that immediately figured that Bloody Mary was a bunch of baloney, as a kid?

Now, alligators under the bed? Whole different thing. No sense taking a chance by dangling anything over the edge.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbluzdude

All I can say is Jodi the pig from the Amityville Horror. I still wake up at 3:15 when I am really stressed. How is that for being engrained into your psyche.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Just wanted to say that spinning WAS involved in Bloody Mary conjuring when I was a kid.

I never was able to "see" her. Kinda makes me sad that everyone else did... LOL

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKyFireWife

sonofabitch. if because i read this and looked into your monitor...well, if mary is like that broad from the ring where you die because you watched a video...well, if mary can read my thoughts tonight when i stagger into the bathrom...well, all i am saying is you are so going down with me. i know where you live. asshole for writing about this. sheesh.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

oh. p.s.
sometimes i still run and jump into bed. sometimes. but when i am in bed it is ok if my legs hang over a little bit. not my hands, though. just my legs are allowed to be free from the bed's perimeter. don't ask why. only the monsters under the bed understand.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

Um...so glad I'm not the only one still freaked by bloody mary. That episode of ghost whisperer renewed it a couple of years ago. And I still don't sleep with body parts hanging over the edge of the bed...AND I'm still scared of Michael Meyers from Halloween and Jason from Friday the 13th. Clearly traumatized....yikes.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteremilie

Flashes "Still Afriad Of Mirrors" Club card.

I strategically arranged our bedroom furniture so I cannot see the mirror (unfortunately attached to the dresser) from my side of the bed (husband can fend for himself). And I refuse to go to the bathroom at night without turning the lights on.

A former coworker moved into an old house after she was married. On the staircase landing, there was a huge mirror attached to the wall and surrounded by an ornately carved wooden frame. And her Golden Retriever REFUSED to walk past it. Incidentally, so did I....

I'm not sure if it is Bloody Mary or terrible horror movies viewed in college that made me this way, but I'm so glad I have company!

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren C.

I'm 23 years old. I watched The Amityville Horror for the first time a few months ago and then had to make a two-hour drive in the dark. I convinced myself my car was haunted and was terrified a ghost would show up in my backseat. So yeah, I feel for you.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana

While reading the post and the comments, without realizing it I started to skip reading that name every time I came across it.. you know, just in case if I happen to say it in my head more than twice while reading...

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmandeep

Yeah when I was a kid I scared to pee because of Goonies, scared to swim in the evening when our pool water got just murky enough to hide Jaws, I don't use ouija boards or do "light as a feather" in Ireland I'm scared to walk under a dolmen, and I don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever talk about things like you just wrote about.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterelizabeth

ARGH! My blood just ran cold after seeing the computer screen!

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarahM
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