The Bryan Hall Wine Incident

It happened at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.  The year was 1998.  I was a lowly sophomore, or “wise fool” if you prefer the Latin translation.  I knew very little of the world and even less about wine.  The first thing I knew about wine was that it was something my father made in our basement.  The second thing I knew was that the romanticism of a bottle was enough to get a co-ed horizontal (even more than with a twelve pack of Old Milwaukee Ice).

At the beginning of each academic quarter, my father was sure to stock me with almost enough of the fruit of the vine to last until I ran out of my monthly supply of undies and had to come home for laundry.  It didn’t matter that I wasn’t of legal drinking age.  He knew that the taste of an uncorked bottle transported me to a dinner table back home.  He also knew that it helped with my studies in gender relations.

Some strange occurrences happened that year in Bryan Hall.

I was fast asleep one night, not under the influence of any substance legal or otherwise, when what sounded like a wind tunnel woke me.  In the desk chair next to my bed the apparition of a man was reaching towards me.

I rubbed up eyes and sat upright.  He was still there.  Not trying to hurt me.  Just touch me.  I went back to sleep and figured that I was just dreaming, yet the vividness of the image lurked in the back of my mind.

Bryan Hall - The Scene of the Crime

Bryan Hall – The Scene of the Haunting

Later that fall semester, I attended a Haunted Athens Tour with a friend and his parents.  Athens just happened to be one of America’s top 10 most haunted cities.  From the pentagram of cemeteries that surround the city to the abandoned lunatic asylum that overlooks campus, there are enough spirits lurking to scare any student sober.

One of the stops was outside of Bryan Hall.  The tour guide told of a student who hung himself years earlier.  The room number was unknown other than it was in the southeast corner of the second floor – the exact corner in which I was living.

Was it his ghost I encountered weeks earlier?

A few weeks later I was awoke again in the middle of the night.  This time, there was a pounding at my door.  Remembering my visitor earlier that semester, I was reluctant to answer it.  Through the cobwebs of some of Dad’s hooch, I recognized the voice of Sam, the Japanese exchange student who lived in one of the other rooms in my corner.

I opened the door, and he stood there shifting weight from one side to the other yelling, “Stop it!  Just stop it!”

The commotion woke his roommate.

Unable to stir Sam from his trance, we wrestled him back to his bed.  His roommate mentioned that earlier in the week Sam complained about hearing voices.

Was it the ghost that was speaking to Sam?

Returning to Bryan Hall 10 Plus Years Later

Returning to Bryan Hall 10 Plus Years Later

Halloween I had a friend visiting from home for the weekend of debauchery Athens is famous for.  We began the party on Thursday night, but I still had to wake the next morning for a Spanish exam.  Not wanting to bother my friend, I gathered my books for some last-minute studying in our floor’s lobby that separated the men’s from the women’s side.  Sam kept walking past staring at me and saying that he wanted to go to the gym.

I was uneasy but had nowhere else to finish studying.  I stopped a friend, and she agreed to sit with me for a while.

Sam stopped his intrusions.

After some time we agreed the situation was over.  My friend left to return a CD to one of the men on our floor.  She walked down the men’s hallway and returned moments later to report that Sam was roaming the hallway.


With an erection.

I thought she was joking and continued my studies.

An hour later it was time to ready myself for the day.  I stood in front of a bathroom sink half-shaven when Sam entered.


And still with an erection.

I gathered my belongings and found the RA on duty who contacted the police.  Sam was arrested an hour later and spent the rest of the year locked up in a mental hospital for schizophrenia.

Had Sam gone crazy or was he possessed by the ghost?  If he was possessed by the ghost, I was beginning to think that at least the ghost had a sense of humor.

A Wise Fool without his Wine

A Wise Fool without his Wine

After that, all was quiet in Bryan Hall.  At least until the Great Wine Incident.

It was February and the old steam pipes in the century building were cranking out ghastly heat.  I slept most nights with the window open to the blistering winter snow and the fan blowing.

One afternoon, as I entered the sauna that was my room, I sat down at the desk and noticed a liquid on the keyboard.  It was also spilled onto other parts of my desk.  A quick sniff test revealed white wine.  The last of my stash sat opened on a dresser across the room.

It was unopened when I left.  A quarter of the bottle remained while the rest covered my desk and bed.  The cork was found a good five feet across the room from the bottle wedged between my mattress and the wall.

To this day, that bottle of wine remains a mystery.  What opened the bottle and spilled it all over my room?  Was it a corked bottle?  Did the heat of the room cause it to explode?  Or did the ghost of Bryan Hall perform yet another haunting?  But most importantly, what was I going to do with the last of my stash now gone?  Surely, my studies in gender relations would suffer.