Thursday, September 10, 2009

Are oddballs the instruments of Deus ex machina?

Some weirdos have been crossing my path lately. Mom always attracted the strange ones. A mentally disabled guy was in love with her for years. He'd stand on our porch and call to her through the screen door: Beautiful Mary!

Last week I took the dog out for a 6am run. Toward the end of it, we approached a thin figure in a black hoodie striding along the sidewalk. We went around him; then I looked over and the guy was running alongside us, muttering to himself. Oh honestly, I said, and sped up. And he kept pace with us, talking louder. It was barely light out, so even though I was tired and only 3 blocks from home, I did the smart thing and turned back, and took the long way back to the house. No sooner did I walk up to it but another guy materialized. A big guy in a polo shirt, waving his arms and lurching around on the sidewalk. Harmless fellows both, I guess, but you never know.

Over the weekend, I was in Vancouver and again took the dog out for an early morning spin around the block. We passed a guy carrying a large duffel bag. He ignored us, instead flipped open a Dumpster lid and hollered up at the apartment above: it's 7.20 a.m., wake up! Pooch and I came back around the block and Mr. Dumpster Diver was just exiting the alley. This time he made eye contact. This is the forty-thousand-millionth time I've seen you today, he said, not angry, but exasperated.

So, what's the key, or is there one? I talk to myself sometimes too. I'll kill myself running so as not to be passed by another jogger at Greenlake and I've certainly been known to pick up free stuff off the sidewalk. One person's Dumpster diver is another's freecyler. One person's loon is another's--well--me.

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