Baltimore An enigmatic, black-clad stranger strode into the Westminster Presbyterian Church cemetery on Friday and, as tradition dictates, celebrated Edgar Allan Poe's birthday by laying three red roses and a half-filled bottle of French cognac on the writer's grave.
But some of the otherworldly quality was lost when the "Poe Toaster" dropped two details about himself: He's a New York Giants football fan and in the Jan. 28 Super Bowl he's not backing the Baltimore team named for Poe's horror tale "The Raven."
The sports sentiment shocked Jeff Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. "It just sort of burst a bubble for me," said Jerome, who has overseen the 52-year-old ritual for almost 20 years. "We all know it's not a ghost or a spirit or anything like that but it's a human being who likes football?"
The stranger materialized at 2:25 a.m., flashed two thumbs up and departed leaving flowers and a sodden note tied to the cognac bottle.
Borrowing from Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death," it read: "The New York Giants. Darkness and decay and the big blue hold dominion over all."
Red and blue are the Giants' colors, and "the big blue" is a team nickname. The note continued with a reference from "The Cask of Amontillado": "The Baltimore Ravens. A thousand injuries they will suffer. Edgar Allan Poe evermore."