Mr. McDonald and I are pretty big fans of the horror genre in literature and film and we love watching scary movies together. Some of them actually contain a surprising amount of depth and intellectual value but beyond that, the simple adrenaline rush is a lot of fun. Plus, my burlier half always gets scared and I kind of like it when he snuggles in closer for protection.

It’s rare to find a movie that genuinely frightens me, as most of the plots range from highly unlikely to completely ridiculous, but it’s always fun to laugh at myself when I jump during a startling scene. However, my tendency is to find myself alone at night, after everyone else is asleep, suddenly thinking about a movie I’ve recently watched and getting all creeped out as my mind inevitably drifts into the “what ifs,” however absurd.

“What if the nice cabin we reserved for later this fall is really an intricate trap designed by a government agency to sacrifice us as this year’s appeasement to the powerful ancient gods who live beneath the earth?” “What if a mad German doctor kidnaps me and two friends and surgically attaches us mouth-to-posterior in an attempt to form his own human centipede?” Or even, “What if a sentient rubber car tire named Robert rolled through town and started killing people with his violent telepathic powers?” (Yes, these were all real movie plots).

‘Cause, ya know, WHAT IF???

We’re both pretty fond of “The Exorcist,” and although we’re not religious and are generally very skeptical of anything bordering on supernatural, we think it’s still one of the creepier movies ever made. Most modern movies about demonic possession can’t hold a candle to the classic, but nevertheless, we usually try to give them a chance. We recently enjoyed a weekend without the kids and were excited to find an opportunity to head to the theater to check out the new flick, “The Conjuring.”

I thought it was OK and it did its job in offering up a couple hours of entertainment, but as usual it was mostly forgettable until I was sitting up alone a few nights later and found myself ever-so-slightly worried about the possibility my home was infested by a demon. Because WHAT IF??? As usual, I did a quick bit of research to help appease my over active imagination.

I learned that when investigating the possibility of a malevolent spiritual presence, one should first ascertain whether the home contains objects which allegedly attract and invite evil spirits into your life:

Objects overtly related to demon worship — I’m pretty sure we’re good there as no one in the family has ever really been into worshiping dark spirits who identify themselves as such. However, for the time being I’m regarding the Bieber poster on my daughter’s wall as highly suspect, just to be on the safe side. Something about that goofy kid’s continued power over young girls just ain’t right. I’m not yet prepared to say he’s “not of this world,” but I can’t necessarily prove otherwise.

Incense and items related to “occult” practices — I may not actually engage in occult activities, but I didn’t even need to leave my chair to spot the cute voodoo doll I picked up in NOLA a few years ago, the beautiful dreamcatcher I got from a Native American artisan in North Carolina, or the eerie framed depictions of the Superstition Mountains I got from an artist I met in the Arizona desert. Considering my house perpetually smells like Nag Champa, things were not looking good so far.

Owl and frog images — OK, well, it just so happens that my pool deck is decorated exclusively in the cutest owls and frogs I could find at Big Lots. No wonder we have so much trouble keeping the pool from turning green every summer. We’ve been swimming in demon water!

Rock and roll records and memorabilia — Uh-oh. Good grief! This place is a veritable devil’s playground!

After searching for items that might attract unwanted evil entities, the cautious homeowner should then be wary of any signs of an actual demonic infestation:

Animals acting strangely — Well, I DID just watch the cat jump from the top of a cabinet, take a spin on a ceiling fan blade, leap to the curtains and then slowly slide down before scurrying out of the room. But then again, how does anyone really determine when a cat is acting bizarre?

Intense foul odors — Now that I mention it, I do actually detect a rather unpleasant aroma coming from just across the room. OK, never mind. I think that was just coming from the dog. Otherwise, all I smell is the Nag Champa.

Growling sounds coming from within the house — Yes! I’m quite certain I just detected a growl! Oh wait; it appears that was just my husband stepping on a Lego. This seemingly innocuous incident should not be dismissed without a healthy dose of suspicion, however, as it’s difficult to believe those toys were invented without at least some level of malicious intent.

Objects flying across the room — (ducks) And there goes a shoe hurtling right across the room! Followed by my giggling son, being chased by his big sister, who is holding a lamp in a menacing fashion and threatening to destroy him if she catches him in her room again. Nothing unusual here.

Isolation, withdrawal from society, lack of enthusiasm and zest — Well that all sounds familiar. Signs of impending demonic possession? Perhaps. But it also sounds suspiciously like August in Mobile.

OK, I feel a lot better now and overall, I’d say demons are probably not a valid concern. Please do alert me if you notice anything unusual when reading this column. You know, blood dripping from the page, letters rearranging themselves to form threatening messages. Stuff like that.

By the way, reading columns about demons attracts demons. Good luck with that.