Over Thanksgiving weekend I visited a gaming store I hadn’t been to in 4-5 years. What I saw surprised me: Ouija boards on the shelves and Amway snacks being sold in the gaming room. 

It’s taken me a few days to process the experience. I’d promptly put the stuff down I was going to buy and left. I feel stupid now because I should have said something to the employees behind the counter, and this is why I’m not mentioning the store by name.

Where to begin?

Gamers have spent decades overcoming Christian objections to the supposed Satanism inherent in the hobby, but then a gaming store decides to sell Ouija boards.

But then to confuse things further, the store is selling Amway goods. Amway is a pyramid scheme funding the religious right and the daughter of one of its founders, Betsy DeVos, will probably be the next Secretary of Education.

Oddly enough, both Amway and Ouija boards have a couple of things in common: Either A) they are real and you’ll get drawn into a strange world where you believe your dreams can come true, or B) they are worthless and a complete waste of money.

Well, I wouldn’t say a complete waste of money. The Ouija board I had which was passed down to me from an older sibling when I was a preteen.

And the $500 or so I “lost” during my 9 month stint in Amway taught me some valuable lessons on human psychology and religion; specifically the dark side of Christianity, group-think, and how desperate people can be.

Dealing with the Ouija board was even stranger (and, just a caveat: it had nothing to do with me playing Dungeons & Dragons, in fact, the Ouija board came and went before I’d really started playing the game.)

For my friends and I, the Ouija board worked.

And I’m certain it wasn’t just an ideomotor effect.

My friends and other kids in the neighborhood became obsessed with it–even after it scared them. I’d get knocks on my door in the summer afternoon. “Hey, can we use your Ouija board.”

Even so, real or fake, no good was coming out of it, as I decided. So I put it away and later had friend’s father destroy it–who would, years later,  discover and burn his son’s D&D collection in accordance to that infamous Jack Chick tract, Dark Dungeons.

Damn. Talk about coming full circle.

Now the question (for me anyway): where to go from here?

At any rate I don’t plan on going back to that store.

These are strange days.