On April 5th, 1991 ABC’s 20/20 aired a supposed ‘real live’ exorcism. While the young girl named Gina was being exorcised of her demons (‘My name is not Minga!,’ she yelled at the priest) a different ritual was happening in the apartment I shared with my wife of almost two years.
The phone rang. It was our friend, Juan (insert cheesy joke here – not this Juan, that Juan; the other Juan; not Juan, but the other, etc.). I answered, ‘Hello,’ not knowing whom it was as this was in the days before caller i.d.
‘Bon-Bon is on TV, she’s possessed by the devil.’ Bon-Bon was Juan’s (not me, the other Juan one) nickname for my wife. And he had just said what I had noticed (but could not bring myself to say out loud in the presence of my wife) when the footage of the exorcism was first presented by Barbara Walters. There, on our television screen, was a young girl who could have passed for a younger version of my wife. It was the same hair color, same shape of the face and mouth; in short, at another time in her life, it might have been her.
As the Catholic Priest proceeded with the six-hour ritual (of which merely minutes were aired), the phone kept ringing in our apartment. ‘She’s on TV!’ ‘It’s her! It’s her!’ All of our close friends (who, like us, obviously had nothing better to do than to stay home on a Friday night) were calling to warn tell me that I was living with a demon named Minga. Needless to say, my wife did not enjoy the airing of the program, not because of the taunts and comparisons to Minga from our friends, but rather because she didn’t (and still doesn’t) like anything that has to do with demons.
Likewise, she is terribly afraid of the film The Exorcist. Now, ask me what I consider to be one of the finest horror films ever made? My answer always is, The Exorcist. In the twenty plus years that we have been married we’ve watched the movie together a number of times, each time listening to her begrudge me and ask me to turn the TV off, change the channel – ‘I don’t understand your obsession with this film!’ reaching a decibel in her voice that we don’t speak to each other in normally (at least not when watching a movie). Rarely do we get to the end of the film and if we do, I have a lot of ‘splaining’ to do before I will be forgiven. Trust me when I say that it truly unnerves her.
I’m not obsessed with the film, but I think that by 1973 standards, it is clearly one of the best pieces of celluloid showing how
Good God will always triumph over evil, even the kind that is preceded by a ‘D’. The film is timeless and still manages to keep me from sleep at night anytime I see it – but I still watch. I believe, despite the green puke and the horrifying, offensive, sacrilegious images, that it delivers a pure message in its story of the young girl Regan, who goes, literally, to hell and back, only to find peace again. The script is simple: good is introduced, evil is introduced, evil takes over, good fights back, good wins, the end.
Today, my spouse’s fear of The Exorcist and resemblance to Gina is a source of humor for our group of friends who know about her issues with the film and who know about the 20/20 footage from that April airing many years ago. Usually you will hear one of our darkest dearest friends refer to her by the name of Minga, in fact he chooses to call her nothing else.
The true silent horror living in my head is the ever perplexing question that jogs my brain: what if all of this is not coincidence, what if there is some modicum of truth in her resemblance to Gina or in her fear of the movie? And while she has never demonstrated any of the criteria required for the church to approve an exorcism (telekinesis, speaking in tongues, intimate knowledge of places/people she has never seen/met), I can present the following as evidence demonstrating my concerns may not be unfounded.
Speak to my wife anytime she is walking in the Florida heat, talk to her while sitting in front of the TV when her favorite program is about to start and a rainstorm has blocked our satellite signal; address her (as I’ve written about before) when I have spilled something on the floor after our house has just been cleaned or call her at work on the Monday morning after returning from vacation. I will swear on a stack of Bibles that the being who responds to you is not my wife.
It may not be the demon known as Minga and it may not be the being who possessed Regan (as portrayed by a young Linda Blair), but clearly the person whose eerily, guttural, out of character response will reach your ears is someone in immediate and desperate need of your collective prayers to cleanse her of the ugliness that lives within her.
Couple your prayers with air conditioning, cable TV, a bottle of Mistolin (floor cleaner) and a fall cruise through New England and you too will be known, at least in my household, as an exorcist.