Sunday, January 31, 2010

And so are your prayers.

It is nearly the second month of the new year.

It is late enough at night to consider it early, early morn.

Outside this homely house, all things sleep grumbling beneath a quilt of white crystal talcum, enrobed as Jadis in the full of her reign, shimmering and shivering under the brilliant blue-white of what the first souls to walk these hills called the Wolf Moon -- that first of the year fullness which oversees the leanest, hungriest night at the heart of Winter.

Inside this glad place, those last of you to arrive are now the last to depart, a meager but eager handful of friends allowing one last bend of the elbow, one more tip of the glass, to be the excuse for not going just yet; for staying where it's comfortable, cozy.


The fire's burning to red but still warm, and I know we'll all be lingering long enough that adding one more log would be worthwhile.

You all look as if you need a reason to stay...

I think now's probably as good a night as any to tell you a tale once told to me in this very place, at this very slab of brass and oak upon which I now serve the last round of cheer.

Oh yes I heard it here, then saw it for myself some years later.

It's all true.

Have you ever heard of... the Grither?

Oh now, you may want to believe that this entire story was made up by some guy named Michael Bishop in a book of short tales called A Winter In Eden, and that it was eventually given a teleplay treatment by Michael McDowell to become a classic episode of the horror anthology television series Tales From The Darkside called Seasons Of Belief in 1986. You may want to believe this episode became a popular, underground-ish Christmas Special for we horror loving kids in the '80s, and that as grown-ups we still giggle at the thought of the first time we saw it, and still admonish each other to never take "his" name in vain. 

You may want to believe all of that.

Hey -- I want to believe there's really no such thing as karaoke, root canals or airline pilots' lounge placards written in Braille, but life just keeps insisting otherwise.

Yes pub goers, there is a Grither.

And do me, hell, do all of us a favor.

Don't take his name in vain.


The Grither was born on a sailing ship that got lost in the Arctic sea. Foundering among treacherous floes and encroaching ice, the hapless souls aboard drifted about aimlessly, seeing naught except water, icebergs and glaciers; some went insane, others killed their fellow passengers, most froze or drowned by flinging themselves overboard. It is said the Grither was born of the rage and suffering of those poor souls who perished in that icy nightmare so very long ago.

It is also said that the Grither now dwells in a howling ice cave far in the North, above the Arctic Circle, not very far from Santa Claus's Castle. He lives on the very same giant, frozen passenger ship which first gave him life. Most of the time, he likes nothing better than to eat his 'food' and sleep undisturbed.

The Grither has fists like basketballs, arms like boa constrictors, leafed with red and blue veins like a road map.

The rest of him cannot be truly described and there are no pictures or drawings, for no one who has seen him (and lived!) has ever seen any more than his horrifying hands and arms.

The Grither's ears are extraordinarily sensitive; he can hear his name being uttered anywhere in the world within seconds of it being uttered. The more his name is repeated by the same person or group of people, the larger his ears grow to listen, until they are big enough to start flapping...

... and then the Grither begins to fly, seeking the miscreant who dared speak his name.

The Grither hates his name being used in vain. Did I say that already?

OH no, I am not in danger for telling this story, as you aren't for merely listening, for I am not using his name in vain, you see.

I'm informing you about the Grither, and continuing the Grither's legend. That's not a vain thing. It's not like I'm being careless about it.

What does the Grither do when he finds those who do carelessly toss about his name?

He grithers 'em.

This clip from the aforementioned Tales From The Darkside 'cover-up' series will reveal all to you:

(Warning: NOT for little kids or Godsons named Will!)

Now do you see what'll happen?

The lyrics to that terrifying tune:
"Oh, I am the Grither
You cannot escape me,
For pleading is useless
And so are your prayers

The Grither is greedy,
For only one thing,
To keep you from taking
To keep you from taking
To keep you from taking
His name in vain."

Do I need to repeat it? Do not take the Grither's name in vain.

That's the tale. Believe what you will.

Still... can't imagine being grithered. The horror!

OH stop, we're not going to get grithered. As the tradition goes, I finished telling the story before the Grither arrived, so now he will not grither us. Even if the Grither nearly got here, he has to turn around and head back to the frozen derelict ship in his Arctic ice cave.

Besides, I didn't say the Grither's name that many times. I mean it's not like I just stood here shouting 'Grither, Grither, Grither, Grither, Grither!'... is it?

Yes, the hour is now ridiculously, foolishly late.


If you feel that this blustering, brilliant Winter holds gritherous surprises for your sorry soul, that your return trip home might not get you all the way there....

...then please stay.

Rest warmly, peacefully.

Make sure the fire doesn't go out. I hear the wind getting louder out there... wait, is that the wind? Or did I hear something else?

Oh, it can't be too terrible, whatever it is. Stories are, after all, just stories. Good pub chatter. A light punch in the shoulder.

Boy that wind is beginning to howl so...


  1. I'll never hear that carol again without looking over my shoulder!
    What a great christmas tale that was. I had almost forgot E.G. Marshal and Tales from the Darkside. Still pretty creepy after all these years.
    Thanks for the chills-- Now, I have to go crawl under the bed--gotta make sure the box springs are in place!

    Pleasant dreams & DDSP


  2. I have friends from those days who to this very day will not let me say ... that name! Such fun.