CREEPY CORNER: The Old Man in the Chair or Why I Don't Talk to My Mom Before Bed Anymore

"You really used to scare me when you were a kid." -- Louise's Mom.
Publish date:
September 24, 2015
creepy corner, ghost stories, childhood memories, weird stuff, mom, Family Memories

It's been a weird week, Creepy Corneristas, even for me.

First my red light neighbors were back. For those of you who don't know, the first night I was in my Hong Kong apartment, I looked out my ninth floor window to see a man and a woman in the next building, flailing about in an eerie, red light. They sat at a table, staring at each other in the semi-darkness, then slowly their arms began to rise and wave over their heads in a "snapping motion." Whatever ritual I was witnessing left me more than a little unsettled.

And out of the blue (or red), my neighbors were back at it a couple nights ago. Same red light, same seated staring, same arms waving. It was like watching a replay of the first night. The whole thing lasted around five minutes, then they turned off the light and were gone.

Honestly, something about seeing the whole thing again, almost exactly as I remembered it, was even more unnerving than the first time. Is this going to be a regular thing?

I drew the curtains and avoided the windows for the rest of the night. I feared that if I looked out the window I'd see one of them STARING AT ME, beckoning me to JOIN THE DANCE. And then, you know, I'd have to.

Then of course my mom had to get in on the strangeness. Like she does.

For those of you who have been following Creepy Corner for a while, you may remember my mom and her side of the family from such tales as, the one about the "Ghost Seeing Eyes," the one about the ghosts of "La Salle Road," and the one about the "Real Life Zombies."

It all started one night when for some reason I found myself on the phone with my mom, telling her about the time my niece spooked my husband.

We were visiting family last Christmas, when my husband found himself alone in the kitchen with my 3-year-old niece. As the two of them sat at the kitchen table picking over macaroni, my niece suddenly stopped giggling and turned to the living room — her eyes seemed to follow something.

My husband tried to follow her gaze, but didn't see anything. The TV was off, the Christmas tree lights weren't even blinking.

"What are you looking at?"

My niece continued to watch whatever was in the living room a bit longer, then turned back to face my husband. Looking straight at him, she said in a low voice, "It's the ghost."

Goosebumps popped up all over my usually unflappable, very skeptical husband. "Is it a nice ghost?" he asked.

Turning back to the "empty" living room, my niece just said, "Sometimes." Then he watched her watch "the ghost" walk out of the living room and up the stairs.

"Kids are so weird!" my mom exclaimed when I told her this story. "You really used to scare me when you were a kid."

When I asked her how so, she responded with, "Don't you remember the old man in the chair?"

I'm sorry, what?

"You know, the rocking chair by the window? The one Mew [my childhood cat] wouldn't go near?"

My mom then proceeded to tell me a story from my childhood that I'd long since forgotten, but that had apparently kept her up late at night (and with one eye on that rocking chair).

When I was around 6 years old I became fixated on this rocking chair that sat in my parents' bedroom. It was big, sturdy, and had fluffy peach-colored cushions. At first I loved to sit in it, then I took to just sitting near it.

Over breaks from school, I'd spend a lot of time in my parents' bedroom while they were at work. It was the room with the good TV.

My mom would come home from work to find me sitting at the foot of the rocking chair watching TV. Now and then I'd glance up to "someone" sitting in the chair. Occasionally I'd laugh, but not at what was on the TV. I'd laugh at the empty chair.

Eventually my mom asked why I wouldn't sit in the rocking chair. I have no recollection of this at all, but she told me that six year-old Louise told her, "That's where the old man sits."

My poor mom. Back in the 1980s she had no Reddit to take to to share the creepy shit her kid said.

As time wore on, she told me I'd move things out of the way for the old man. If a book was on the chair, I'd move it. If I left my toy raccoon there, I'd make sure it was out of the way when "he" wanted to sit down.

I asked my mom why she didn't just write the old man off as another one of Spooky Louise's Imaginary Friends.

"I did at first," she admitted. "But you were so normal with him, like you were with MarMar [my grandmother]. You didn't play with the old man, you just knew he was there. You talked to him -"

I did?

"Oh yeah! Early one morning, it was still dark out, I came back to the bedroom after dad went to work and you were sitting there talking to the rocking chair. I don't know what you were saying, but it scared the crap out of me."

And if her little girl talking at a rocking chair didn't creep her out enough, she told me that the darn thing actually MOVED ON ITS OWN.

"No it didn't!" I said more out of fear than disbelief.

"Oh yeah, a few times. Usually early in the morning when I'd be reading in bed before the sun came up. I'd look up from my book and the chair would be rocking. Or you'd fall asleep watching TV in our bed while we were out, and I'd come into the room to see you snoring, the TV blaring, and the chair rocking."

By the time my mom got to this part of the story, it was well past midnight in Hong Kong. "I can't believe you kept the chair in your room," I said as I looked around my dark apartment silently begging the old man not to pay me a visit for old times' sake.

"Eh. I don't even know if he was real. Even if something ghostly was going on, he didn't seem to be bothering anybody. You liked him. It was kind of interesting."

Not able to handle any more of my mom's "true ghost stories," I told her I had to try and sleep and hung up the phone. As I puttered around the house getting ready to lie in bed and not sleep for fear the old man and his pal the Mothman might want to hang out at the foot of my bed that night, I got a text from my mom.

"I just remembered. You said the old man used to live in the house. Remember how the old owners "released" the house to us when we moved in? I wonder if that's related. Such memories. Hey! You should write about this in your Corner..."

Ask and you shall receive mom, ask and you shall receive.

But next time, let's save the "memories" for daylight hours.

Do you have a spooky story you'd like to share? A great urban legend from your area? A personal scary story? Tell me! Send your stories to, and you might see it in the next Creepy Corner Reader Roundup! For guidelines see here.