Being Weird

“You’re super weird.”

“Ok, that’s creepy.”

“Nice, stalker! Haha!”

These are a few of the reactions I got after showing some of my lovely, yet apparently super judgmental friends the above photo of a postal worker I took the other day.

I can see where they’re coming from, but for me, getting a little weird is normal and something I’m used to. For example, take this situation with the postal worker. I saw her cross the street as me and a friend were getting into the car after eating some delicious doughnuts (they had bacon on them).

My friend sees the postal worker and has no reaction, probably because she’s seen the postal worker before. Me, on the other hand, see this postal worker and think about a few things.

1. I’ve never seen a postal worker that young
2. I’ve rarely seen female postal workers
3. Her bright red hair was awesome
4. The rest of her outfit with the socks pulled up, sock hat, and headphones looked even more awesome

I mentioned her to my friend and still didn’t get much of a reaction, so off we went and as I drove away I didn’t think much more of that super-cool looking postal worker.

Well, that is until I drove back through town on my way to the coffee shop and there she was again, this time walking out of our small town post office with overflowing bags of mail pulled over both shoulders. I slowly cruised down the street a bit and told myself that if she walked by me, then I’d ask for a quick photo.

It didn’t take long until I saw her turn the corner, so there I was, hopping out of the car and asking a random girl who was delivering the mail if I could take a photo (followed quickly by an explanation why). Yeah, she thought it was weird at first, but after telling her I was from there, what year I graduated, and asking her a few other questions about her job it was all good.

I really like the photo and for some reason I think it screams small town U.S.A. — I even got the flag hanging off of the front porch behind her in the photo. After being gone from my hometown for so long it’s these types of small things I notice and realize are so unique to where I grew up and I think that’s pretty cool. Sure, a little weird, but also pretty cool.

Scared In Our Tighty Whities

On January 15th it’s my homie Marc’s birthday, so I thought I would tell a funny story from when we were just two young and clueless kids hanging out in Ptown. I’m not sure how old we were when this went down, but I’m thinking we were 10 or 11. Enjoy and happy birthday Marc, you old bastard.

Hup heard something and he knew Marc did, too. This was verified by the look in Marc’s eyes after Hup ran over and smacked him on the chest, just to make sure they were both awake and in this together. As they both pulled off their blankets, their tighty whities nearly glowed in the dark.

“Dude, what was that?” Hup attempted to yell while still whispering just only inches from Marc’s face. They were sleeping in Marc’s living room, which was dark except for the alternating strips of light shining onto the carpet through the blinds from the street lights outside. Ptown had lots of street lights — probably too many, but I guess you can never feel too safe walking down the street at night in this town (which no one ever did).

“I think someone’s in the back porch,” Marc whispered back cautiously while motioning his head over to the kitchen. It was pitch black inside it’s opening to the living room as they both sat frozen in time, staring it’s way, waiting to see something they wouldn’t know what to do with.

“Throw this in there,” Marc said quickly while shoving a toy duck towards Hup. After throwing it into the darkness there was a loud noise, which was more than enough evidence for the both of them to know that there was, in fact, someone in the house. They held eye contact with each other for a few moments through stares of disbelief as it started to sink in. Neither of them blinked for what seemed like days.

To them, this realization meant they needed to find a quick way to defend themselves and after a quick scan around the living room their weapons of choice were right next to the fireplace. They inched quietly toward the set of tools that, given their short amount of prep time, seemed to be the best options.

Hup grabbed the poker and pulled it out from the other metal poles as slowly and quietly as possible. The fire poker had a wooden handle on one end and something sharp on the other that, in Hup’s mind, could potentially inflict harm on whoever came at him. Marc ended up getting stuck with the ash rake and while not his first choice, it was still way better than the brush — good luck doing any damage to anyone with a stupid brush.

Sketch by Marc Ryan

Before anything or anyone could show itself from the shadows of the kitchen and after hearing a few more noises coming from there, Marc made a decision.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said to Hup, still trying to be quiet.

“Where are we going to go?” Hup asked back, not letting his eyes leave the opening of the kitchen.

“Just follow me,” Marc responded confidently as he motioned to Hup to move closer to the front door. He started unlocking the deadbolt and whispered aggressively. “Come on!”

Once the door was open the two boys, who didn’t have any time to put on pants, shut the door behind them and ran across the driveway towards a neighbor’s house. Scared and without any other options, Marc thought the bushes in front of it’s wrap-around porch would make a perfect hiding spot until the coast was clear.

Marc went in first, squeezing his skinny, shirtless, and only underwear-covered frame between the concrete wall at the front of the porch and the sharp, pine-needle filled branches that weren’t quite willing to share their space. Hup followed closely while trying to avoid as many scratches as possible by clearing a path with the fireplace poker he was still holding. It didn’t work very well and once he made it to where Marc was standing the branches had definitely gotten the best of him. But, at least they were safe.

“Shhhhh!” Marc held up a finger to his lips towards Hup as he clumsily settled into their makeshift hideaway. “Let’s just wait here for a little bit.”

It wasn’t too cold, but it wasn’t exactly warm either and for the next two hours in the middle of the night that’s where Hup and Marc stayed. Standing completely silent and scared in the bushes, wearing only their tighty whities, while holding their weapons and hoping that whoever was in the house wouldn’t still be there once they decided to go back.

Eventually they did make their way back into Marc’s house and thankfully the person was long gone, along with some Nintendo games and other things that were stolen from his back porch. They never found out who it was, but luckily they were ready and willing to do whatever it took to make sure everyone was safe. Ok, maybe they just hid out in the bushes like two scared-ass kids, but hey — it’s still a great story and something that Hup and Marc still talk about over twenty years later.

A Punch to the Face of Midwestern Teenage Summer Boredom

Nothing humbles you like being punched in the face. There have been two times when it’s happened to me and I only fully remember one. It’s also worth noting that this number doesn’t include getting punched in my head, my friends punching me in the face or anything that has to do with head-butting. If they those were included the number would be double-digits, easy.

The time I actually remember my face getting acquainted with someone else’s knuckles happened when I was still in high school. It was a warm and muggy night in Indiana and me and one of my friends were cruising through Anderson in his white 1989 Chevy Corsica with the windows rolled down. We’re from Pendleton, Indiana, which is your stereotypical small Midwestern town with lots of hospitable white people and cornfields. Anderson, on the other hand, was a nearby city that had a movie theater, diversity and a declining economy due to several General Motors plants that had recently relocated to Mexico.

Another thing that Anderson had was a Taco Bell with a drive-through which Eric and I took full advantage of. While rapping along to some Notorious B.I.G. on our way back home we decided to take a detour through a strip mall parking lot across the street so we cruise through what we called “Applewood”. It was a nice night and we were curious to see who else was out.

While making our way into the parking lot there were a group of three white guys around our age whose wardrobes mostly consisted of baggy clothing,wife beaters and patchy facial hair. They yelled something at us and being the tough guys that we were back then we yelled something right back.

“Should we roll over there and see what’s up with these guys?”, Eric asked me.

With my adrenaline already starting to block out the little common sense I had during my teenage years I quickly answered, “Yeah, let’s do it.”

They quickly see we’re heading over there and stop walking while waiting for us. We turn down the music and Eric rolls up with the three guys on my side of the car. My window’s already down and when I get a good look at them for the first time I’m not intimidated. They’re just three kids from Anderson who happen to be just as bored as we are. Unfortunately this boredom creates a need to create your own action.

“Did you guys say something to us?” I asked out the window with a smirk on my face.

I give my attention to one of them who starts to say something back and as I do his friend decides to end the conversation by balling up his fist and throwing it right into my face. I don’t even see it coming. The only thing I remember is hearing the dull sound of his fist catching the outside of the car window right before feeling his punch that landed between my right cheek and nose.

Stunned, I grabbed my face and screamed out cusswords while asking Eric what had just happened. He was just as surprised as I was. By the time I came back to reality the three guys had ran away with not only my pride but a really good story to tell their friends. They had successfully broken through the boredom of yet another Midwestern Summer night and I paid the price.

The next few weeks I told a lot of lies of about my black eye and so did Eric. Stories that led my family, friends and basketball teammates away from the truth that only Eric and I really knew. He never told and neither did I, until now.

photo credit: Road Stories