In my post for the restaurant meme I mentioned that my son may have seen a ghost in the Lincoln Restaurant in Chicago.
The only previous ghost in my life was the fabled Resurrection Mary, a popular Chicago ghost legend. In that one, a man is driving in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago and sees a pretty young woman walking along the road in a dress gown at night. The man offers her a ride, and she accepts. She gives him an address, and as they pass Resurrection Cemetery, she asks to be let out. She gets out and simply disappears.
The legend was that she had been at a dance at the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs, Illinois, and was killed in an automobile accident on the way home from a dance. Willow Springs was in the attendance area for my high school, Lyons Township High School, which probably contributed to the popularity of the story at my school.
My son's ghost story began with a cell phone conversation with his mother when he was about 2 years old. She and I had separated a few months before, but were cooperating in a friendly manner in raising him, at that point. My old friend Garrett was in town, and he was looking forward to seeing my son. Adam's mother and I had a short chat on the phone to figure out the logistics of pick-ups and drop-offs. Then she added one curious thing. She asked if I'd taken my son to the Lincoln Restaurant, one of his favorites, lately. I replied that I hadn't and asked why. She said that something odd had happened when she'd tried to bring him there recently. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't ask her to elaborate.
The Lincoln is a favorite of Garrett's, too-- we used to go there a lot when he still lived in Chicago. We put Adam in my "umbrella" stroller and walked over there.
I took Adam out of the stroller, and folded it up. As we walked into the restaurant, Adam's eyes widened. Then he started frantically shouting, louder with each repetition, "Outside! Outside! OUTSIDE!" and fighting to get out of my arms in order to run out of the restaurant. He had a look of fear I'd never seen before-- or since-- in his eyes.
By the last "Outside," he was so loud that the entire restaurant, which is pretty large, had stopped to see what the commotion was. He started yelling "Outside!" again, and was really struggling with me. I sheepishly told the owner "I guess we're going outside."
Once he was outside, he quickly calmed down, and we went to a different restaurant. I was pretty rattled-- it took me a while to calm down.
I called Adam's mother and told her what had happened. She told me that the exact same thing had happened to her a few days before-- with the same result; she'd had to take him out of there.
About a year later, he and I went back into the Lincoln without incident.
As he got older, I asked him about it, but he doesn't remember it. This is odd, because he remembers details about people and places we lived when he was even younger than that.
I told the story to my friend Andreas, who told me flat-out that Adam had seen a ghost. He explained that children see them more frequently than adults-- that adults have learned to screen them out.
I'm not a big believer in ghosts and other supernatural stuff, but I do know what I saw that day. My son never acted like that anywhere, anytime, ever, except for those two times, once with me and once with my ex. The incident was unnerving enough that I remember it vividly over ten years later.
Ironically, when my future in-laws met Adam for the first time, not long after Kim and I started dating, it was over lunch at the Lincoln. He didn't seem to see any ghosts that day.