Saturday, September 7, 2013

So Many Weirdos. So Much Time.

Hey! Did you know that Val is a weirdo magnet? It's true. Like every rose has its thorn, every night has its dawn, and every cowboy sings a sad, sad song...Val attracts weirdos with the force of an electromagnet hoisting a compacted clunker onto the scrap heap. No trip to town goes unweirdoed.

Today, for instance. All I wanted was a 44 oz. Diet Coke from the gas station chicken store. A simple wish, really. Nothing extravagant. Nothing extraordinary. My chosen parking spot beckoned to me. The lot was only one-third as full of cars as last evening. And a family of ten or so sat outside at the round picnic tables where that one weirdo laid her lit cigarette on the seat, then found it on the ground and still put it in her mouth. So I figured the inner sanctum of my close-quartered convenience store would be relatively uncrowded.

Just then two men and a woman, all sporting tattoos on their various and assorted exposed appendages, strode past me to the door. Okay. Three people. That they looked like soda-buyers did not deter me from my mission. They appeared harmless enough. Like Fleetwood Mac concertgoers from the late 70s. Before TUSK. I don't believe in foreshadowing, but rather in misdirection. They were not the weirdos.

As I stepped through the door, I quickly realized that I will never be kicked out of a casino for counting cards. While I had imagined that the number of people outside the store divided by the number of cars on the parking lot would yield a favorable ratio of in-store competition for the clerks' attention, I was sadly mistaken. Quite sadly. Like when you split and double down, and the dealer hits 21. The line ran from the counter all the way past the chicken-ordering area, past the Pepsi dispenser, past the Coke dispenser, past the iced tea dispenser, past the hot chocolate/cappuccino dispenser, to the coolers along the back wall. I strolled down the middle aisle, and stood waiting with my elbow on a stack of royal blue cases of Busch.

The chubbier of the two tattooed dudes meandered across the back, carrying two individual bottles of beer. I didn't know they sold singles. Except for those giant tall cans that the workingmen buy in the evening. Chubs started to join his two compatriots, then noticed me. "Oh. I'm sorry. Go ahead."

"That's okay. I'm waiting for the line to get to the soda machine." He stepped in front of me, and kissed his long-braided girlfriend. The line moved slowly. I rounded the bend. Refilled my cup with ice and the magical elixir that is Diet Coke. The Rumours crew had stopped for chicken. I was stuck in line between the backs of the chicken people on my left, and the shelves of bottled liquor on the right. In front of me stood a bony 20-something in dirty jeans and a faded blue t-shirt topped by a mesh glowy orange roadworker vest. Several folks were ahead of him, engaging the two cashiers, the fast friendly girl who only works once in a blue moon now, and the tall black-haired man with one tooth who aspires to be a factory worker. I knew they would clear it out as quickly as possible. The problem seemed to be an older guy trying to pay for gas and buy PowerBall with his own number picks. Something wasn't working. Something like his credit card. So he got out some more. He apologized for the trouble, and the clerk apologized for the inconvenience.

The weirdo entered. And was immediately attracted to me. Like sophomore boys to free food, toddlers to sharp implements, and Hick to a public auction.

She sported bleached blond hair, and a bloated face like a sometimes alcoholic. I would put her age well into the forties. Her clothing, though I could not get a good look, what with the sardining of the patrons, would have been along the lines of bikini-line cut-off frayed jean shorts, and a pastel, tangerine-colored halter top. She broad-shouldered her way through the crowd, swimming upstream until she mistook me for bait.

"Is this the line?" She directed the question to me alone.

"Yes." Just the facts. Nothing more. I had no desire to engage.

"Seriously?" She peered into my face from a distance of about three inches. I had very little room to recoil, what with fifteen flavors of schnapps on the elbow-height shelf beside me. I resisted her attempt to draw me in. She wasn't getting any embellishment from me.

"Are you freakin' serious?" Something told me that she did not regard it as a rhetorical question. But that's how I treated it.

"Seriously." More of a statement. A judgment on the length of the line in the gas station chicken store. The liners behind me must have been boring into her conscience with their eyes. She finally brushed past me and the Rumours crew like a novice St. Bernard twining through the weave poles at a canine agility competition.

Ser-i-ous-ly. What am I, the spokesman for the Waiting Your Turn In Convenience Stores Board? What else could she have been thinking? I wish I'd had the nerve to tell her:

"Nope. I'm not serious. Just pulling your Naired, Coppertone Q-T-ed leg. This is not really the line. Thirty of my close friends and I decided to pull a prank on you. When we saw you turn onto the parking lot, we all hustled in here and packed ourselves around the aisles and counter so you would have to wedge your way in. Ha ha! We're not even buying these things. We already had them when we walked in. I just love a good prank. If only somebody could get the security camera footage, we could put it on YouTube. Go right on up front. Those two clerks are here to serve only you."

Weirdo. Magnet.


  1. Wow - - - I wonder what that answer would have done to her. She seemed like she was exasperated just by the length of line. LOL

  2. If you and Linda teamed up, all the weirdos in Missouri would be drawn to you two like the most powerful magnet in the world. (And since you're one of those science-y persons, you know where the strongest magnet is. At least I'm secure in the knowledge that it was NOT on a Seinfeld episode...)

  3. I've been taking entries at the fair all day. You can't believe the people I saw. Luckily, I was able to leave before it got dark. I'm not sure what I would have seen then.

  4. Never make eye contact. Psychology professor once said, if you make eye contact for more than three seconds it's perceived as interest. Val, look down to the ground when the freaks walk by. Then again, you and I would probably never look up if we did that.

  5. And I thought most of the weirdos were here in Oregon!

  6. You should have her that...seriously!

  7. I always wonder if weirdos know that they are weirdos. And if they don't I wonder if I am a weirdo. The odds are not in my favour of being a non-weirdo.

  8. Is this why I am drawn to you? Why I scroll down my blog list looking for your post? Am I a weirdo? Okay, I can live with that!

  9. Don't you just love those people behind you in line and they start inching up into your space when nothing has moved except them!?! It is like they think if they squish up next to you the line will move more quickly. Stupid, rude people. I elbowed one once. I pretended to need something out of my shoulder bag and Oops! there went my elbow right into the line squisher's squishy belly! I was very apologetic. Ha, ha, ha! She didn't move much after that!

    1. knancy,
      Oopsie! You snuck one in there while I was long-windedly typing responses.

      Can I hire you as a bodyguard? That elbow trick is hardcore. If you get thrown in the slammer, I will start a drive for your bail money. Or bake you a cake with a strong magnet to get the key off the hook. Because I assume you will be in a Mayberry-type jail cell, as long as Otis doesn't need it that night.

      I hate those women who ram my ample buttocks with a cart while I'm in line at Walmart. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Like it's some cowcatcher to shove me out of the way.

  10. Munir,
    We were all exasperated by the length of the line. But we contained our disdain. We did not attack the messenger. The messenger who was kind enough to reveal, when asked, that yes, indeed, this WAS the line.

    If I had given my alternate answer, she might have decked me. I've found that smart-a$$es are not nearly as endearing as one might think.

    Yes, Linda and I should take our show in the road. Weirdo Roadshow. Catchy, huh? We will protect the Show-Me citizenry from blatant weirdicism within our borders.

    Anybody who has been introduced to my BFF Google knows that the location of the world's strongest magnet is under debate. As far as a Seinfeld episode, I will hypothesize that the Close Talker had some kind of human-to-human magnetic field that caused his affliction.

    Yes, Linda and I could pull in those weirdos like two ice cubes pulling the fat off the top of a vat of homemade chicken stock. Do not forget that in addition to being a science-y person, and a Seinfeld aficionado, I am also a short-temper cook.

    Wait! Are you in Missouri? Linda and I are working on that.

    Are you trying to give me a dowager's hump? I shall not look down! But neither did I look into that woman's eyes. I locked my gaze on the orange safety vest in front of me. I just sensed the weirdness when that gal walked in.

    If you can take time out from your busy Chicken Soup schedule, we can begin pitching our Weirdo Roadshow to the networks. Sioux actually suggested it. You don't think she's after your Chicken Soup crown, do you? And is it true that the crown is a red rubbery comb-looking apparatus?

    SO DID I! But I've only been over Oregon, and nobody accosted me in that airspace. So my assumptions were incorrect.

    You are braver than I. No doubt fueled by dirty-water courage.

    So introspective! I will hypothesize that IF you are a weirdo, you are one of the good weirdos, like the guy who walked up to me at the bagging counter at Save A Lot and handed me a wad of money. Of course, I have already had one failed hypothesis today, that Oregon weirdo theory. Back to the old laboratory, as we science-y people like to say.

    Admitting your weirdoness if half the battle. Let your weirdo flag fly! However, I am more inclined to think that you are drawn to me because we live parallel lives with parallel husbands. You seek me out for solutions to your He Who problems. And I, you.

    I think the most definitive answer is that you are NOT a weirdo, because you, too, attract weirdos. If you WERE one, you would repel them. And your Kampground stories would not be nearly so entertaining.