Fox Mulder would be pissed.
I sure was. My girlfriend and I had paid $29 each to hunt aliens, ghosts and other creatures that go bump in the night. Instead, I was chewing the right testicle of a chocolate-covered "Cock-'n'-Balls," the creamy insides dripping all over my hands. OK, so it was only a penis-shaped pastry courtesy of Voodoo Doughnut downtown, and yes, it was weird, but what the hell did this have to do with phantasms or poltergeists?
We had signed up for the 10 pm version of Portland Walking Tours' "Beyond Bizarre" excursion, only available on Friday and Saturday nights and only open to customers 21 and over. This would not be family-friendly, I was warned. I didn't exactly know what that meant, but I was envisioning bloody autopsies of rigid cadavers in the city morgue, traipsing through haunted abandoned warehouses, or stumbling over skeleton bones on one of those tiny creepy islands in the middle of the Willamette River. In short, I was expecting a lot of fucked-up, crazy shit—the kind of experience that sends a couple of infidels like my girlfriend and me shrieking all the way to Jesus Herbert Christ himself.
But, like I said, I was chewing doughnut cock instead. And listening to some drunken, redheaded kid rattle off sophomoric dick puns as he voraciously consumed half the pastry shaft and fed the cream filling to his girlfriend from his dirty, chocolate-covered fingertips. Apparently the doughnut's shape and our nebbish tour guide's uncomfortable use of the word "fuck" were the sole reasons the tour was deemed "mature." Not only were we denied a glimpse of a ghost, a UFO or even a corpse, but our tour ran through some of the liveliest and best-lit parts of town.
"If ghosts exist," my girlfriend reasoned, "they aren't going to hang out in the middle of the Portland club scene." I agreed. I had expected to skulk through remote quarters with a flashlight as my only illumination, not dodge barhopping frat boys as our procession passed Old Town nightclubs and their fashionable patrons. To make matters worse, our guide (we'll call him Danny) was wearing a huge loudspeaker around his waist like a dorky fanny pack, and his half-assed ghost stories were broadcasting loud enough to be heard for blocks.
Tall and gangly, wearing thick eyeglasses and one of those stupid cabby hats from the 1920s, Danny was about as cool as my high-school biology teacher, and just as desperate to win our respect—and compliments. As soon as I'd set eyes on this supposed "paranormal expert" at Old Town Pizza, where the tour started, I experienced the only otherworldly phenomenon of the night—a premonition that the next two-and-a-half hours would elicit only one bump in the night: the sound of my palm hitting my forehead.
We were so busy feeling embarrassed for Danny (and for ourselves as passersby mistook us for gullible tourists), we couldn't find time to be frightened. Of course, it didn't help that Danny wasn't exactly the expert he claimed (he was ignorant of Portland's myriad UFO sightings, for instance, including the 1947 mass sighting of saucers hovering over downtown). But it was his cowardice in the face of the paranormal that was most inexcusable. Our intrepid ghostbuster admitted declining an offer to spend a free night at the haunted White Eagle Hotel and Saloon, a McMenamins joint over on North Russell Street, insisting he "would rather not bring Sam into [his] life." Sam, of course, is the hotel's resident ghost, rumored to turn faucets on and off in the middle of the night and make a racket deafening enough to be heard over the clamor of the rowdy bar below.
We were standing in the White Eagle as Danny's confession floated toward us like a spineless phantom. Actually, we were standing in the path of guests trying to reach the bathroom down the hall. We had our electromagnetic field meters in hand, which resembled toy Star Trek phasers. The device's lights were supposed to start fluctuating wildly across the color spectrum if a ghost was present. Mine had remained a steady green for the tour's entirety.
"Sam," I pleaded while in a closet, with my meter pointed toward the deepest corners. "Please appear and justify this evening for me. Could you just rattle something around, for Christ's sake?"
Suddenly, my meter flickered. I was on the verge of excitement when I realized I was just pressing the button too hard.
"OK, guys! Tour's over!" Danny said as he snatched the device from my hand. "Hope you all had fun!"
Silent disappointment was our only response until my bloated stomach spoke up, howling like a forlorn banshee.
For once, there was no need for paranormal hypotheses. That damned doughnut cock was raping my colon.
FRIGHT OR FLIGHT
Five things in portland that actually scare us.
According to the
, Portland's Shanghai Tunnels are one of "America's top 10 most haunted places"! With a ranking that high, you'd expect the freakazoids to spill out onto the streets above all year long. Just imagine wrestling wolfmen for that last Count Chocula cereal box, or discovering your dentist is a vampire! No such luck. Fortunately, other ghastly experiences can still be found on Portland streets every day. MICHAEL O'CONNOR
1. Paris Theater What's so scary about a porn theater? Nothing—if the patrons were all twentysomething hardbodies with perfect tans and a penchant for gettin' it on . Unfortunately, the Paris Theater (the new location of the notorious Jefferson Theater) hosts a bunch of winos, users and sleazy old guys the same age as your dad (or granddad), with their pants around their ankles and greasy cum rags in hand. A deformed zombie may be slightly more grotesque, but at least he won't flash you. 6 SW 3rd Ave, 295-7808. Open 24 hours. $8. 18+
2. Bar Fight Even Frankenstein's monster was afraid of enraged mobs. And for good reason, as anyone who's been caught in a brawl at the City Sports Bar can attest. There have been a string of 22 "major incidents" (translation: a bunch of trashed Ultimate Fighting Championship fans beating the hell out of each other and brandishing bottles, glasses and knives as weapons). It's gotten so bad the Oregon Liquor Control Commission is threatening to pull the bar's alcohol license. Those monsters! City Sports Bar&Restaurant, 424 SW 4th Ave., 221-2489. Open seven days a week. Optimal fight hours 11 pm-2 am Friday and Saturday nights. 21+. Visit citysportsbar.com for more info.
3. Sinferno Cabaret "Paranormal" is business as usual for local nightclub Dante's and its plethora of weirdos. I don't know what's scariest—the contortionist stripper who can lick her own clit while keeping her feet clamped behind her head, the fire-belching dancers twirling flaming staffs and nunchucks, or the clumsy jugglers tossing around machetes and occasionally losing control of them. Sit close enough to smell the sweat, feel the heat of the flames and maybe even catch a flying machete through the chest. Dante's, 1 SW 3rd Ave., 226-6630. 9 pm Sundays. $7. 21+. Visit danteslive.com for details.
4. Haunted Maize You know what's not frightening? Crowds. Special effects. Fake blood. The scariest experience is often the simplest: alone, lost, and it's so quiet and sooo dark. And then some asshole in a rubber mask jumps out and screams. Even though it's just an old-fashioned four-acre cornfield "maize," it can still be pretty terrifying, especially late on a rainy night when it's just you and the assholes. The Pumpkin Patch, Sauvie Island, 621-7110. 6-10 pm Wednesday, Oct. 31. $8-$10. All ages. Visit portlandmaize.com for details.
5. Portland Streets Look no further than our local roads for the devil's signature. As if the contradictory signs, roads that vanish for five blocks at a time, and grid system with stray angles and semicircles weren't sinister enough, there are arbitrary one-way streets surrounded by two-lane roads, prohibited left turns on major streets, and intersections more dangerous than the Bermuda Triangle. And if you want a parking spot, sell your soul now.
Portland Walking Tours' "non-family-friendly" Beyond Bizarre tour departs from Old Town Pizza at 226 NW Davis St. at 10 pm Friday-Saturday nights. $29. 21+. Photo ID required. The all-ages Beyond Bizarre tour departs Old Town Pizza daily at 7 pm. $19 adults, $15 seniors over 65 and youths ages 11-17, $5 kids ages 5-10 (under age 5 are free). Advance ticket purchase required. Call 774-4522 or visit portlandwalkingtours.com for tickets.