A few years ago, I was walking through the woods, searching for morel mushrooms. These are the kind of mushrooms that kinda look like a small, brown tree made out of a sponge. I walked and walked until I came to an abandoned house.
The house itself was in a drastic state of disrepair, but I cautiously entered through the back porch. As I looked around, I realized that the house had not been touched in over 40 years, assuming to the 1968 calendar in one of the bedrooms was current at the time of abandonment. There was really nothing of value in the house, but the artifacts were incredible.
There were boxes of clothes-mending materials, magazines, books, and newspapers laid on the dining room table, and the air smelled of musty carpet as a broken window brought in the elements. Clothes were still in closets and dishes were still in the sink.
As I looked around in the kitchen, my eyes fell to a chalkboard near the back door.
I didn’t want to enter the kitchen, as it was a mess, and I was afraid the floor might give way, so I squinted and leaned through the doorway to read what it said. Sounding out the words, I came up with “Wait Right (here) Be Back.”
Chills ran down my arms, and I felt as though the secret eyes of the house just opened to see its intruder. Slowly, I walked backwards, but quickly made my way out the back. I’ll never forget the way I felt when I read those words. The warm, inviting empty house full of artifacts became cold and I needed to get out of there before I was closed up in a time envelope.
Does this man live in Independence?
Let’s go down the checklist:
• Talking on the phone? Check.
• Shirt off? Check.
• Gold chain? Check.
• Visible underwear? Check.
• LOWER-BACK TATTOO? Check.
• Walking ridiculous dog in 98 degree heat? Check.
• Jersey for a shirt? Check.
• Flip-flops? Check.
• Armband tattoo? Check.
• Hanging around an Elementary School? Check.
Yes, this man lives in Independence.
This morning, as I was watching the local news, the traffic guy said that the highways looked great.
People were getting to work and getting away for the holiday weekend without a problem and in fact, it would have to take something drastic for a backup today. Five minutes passed and they checked back in with the traffic guy. He came on the air with a disappointed tone, and as he was showing a blurry traffic-cam, he reported that there were people on an overpass by my house waving flags and causing people on I-70 to slow down to look at them. The face of Friday morning traffic had its first blemish.
Intrigued, I drove past these people to see what was going on.
They’re teaming up to criticize our president. There was a giant blue sign that told all of the morning commuters to “Impeach Obama.” I’m sure their call-to-action ignited lots of un-caffeinated khaki-clad regular Joes to whip the car around to go home, grab the pitchfork and hop a flight to Washington…
Fine. It’s within their rights, but don’t make people late to work. Speaking of work, don’t these people work?
Then there are these two in front of Jiffy Lube. They’re holding signs too, but just barely. The girl’s sign was upside down as she held a conversation and checked her phone. They’re getting paid.
I really like how someone added a handmade question mark to this sign. It looks great.
I think Lady Gaga said it best when she said, “I’m on the edge of glory…” I truly believe that I live in a part of the world where mediocracy reigns supreme and as mind-boggling as it is to live here, I’m going to find the humor in it to share.
Two nights ago, I played a kickball game in my AAF-KC league. It’s a bunch of ad agencies and such who play kickball together in a league. Anyhoo, I’ve been rather down about my performance this year, but Wednesday night, I made up for it. I kicked a homerun and had 5 RBIs on the night. We won 8-3 and advanced to the semi-finals. I’m still riding my high, and my body is creaking along, reminding me that I’m not 23 anymore. That was 10 years ago. I’m getting old, and it feels great.
Also, I freakin’ booted that sucker.
Every day I drive to work, then drive home for lunch, back to work and then home at the end of the day. That’s four passes down a fairly straight stretch of road per day, every day of my life. I know all of the details of this trip; when people get new cars, mow their lawns or even paint their houses.
There is sometimes a lot of foot traffic down this stretch, including a middle-eastern man who I started waving at 3 years ago, and ever since then, we’ve been “waving pals.” It always brings a mutual smile to our faces to see each other and wave. I don’t know the guy, but this story is not about that man. It’s about a new walker, with a new made-up true story. He wears fairly beat-up clothes: slip-on shoes, a tie dye shirt and some cargo pants. He always carries a grocery bag over his shoulder and walks with a palsy-beat. One of his arms is tucked and looks as if he’s carrying an imaginary football. However, none of these things measure up to the amount of what caught my eye the first time I saw him lugging groceries down the sidewalk. This man has the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen on anyone in my life.
As I drove up on this man the first time, I thought he was a woman. The flaxen ripply flow went down to the middle of his back, believe it or not. It was like Kenny G or Weird Al’s hair, if they would’ve grown theirs out for another year. It was like vintage Michael Bolton’s hair, but way more majestic.
Nearly every day, I saw “Beautiful Hair Guy,” and every time, I’d stare in awe. The questions rushed to my brain: How far does he walk every day? Why doesn’t he stock-up on groceries? What shampoo does he use? His clothes were fairly bland, but his hair shone like God’s horse’s mane. A true gift. I went to work and asked co-workers if they’d taken notice of this man and his beautiful hair, but they just laughed as I drew a quick sketch.
One day, as I was driving home from work, I was approaching an intersection, and a man turned in front of me - we collided. Quietly freaking out, I wrestled out of my airbag to see that my car was smoking. I threw open my door, jumped out, and immediately ran away from my hissing, totaled car. I had my hands on my knees bent over trying to stop my panic attack, when I looked up and saw the BHG hobbling over to me as fast as he could. He said “Are you okay?” I paused, gave a quick giggle and said “I am now.” Seeing that everyone was fine, he carried on out of the road and down the sidewalk. I couldn’t believe it. Was this man my guardian angel in Birkenstocks? Perhaps.
Several days after the incident, I went to the police station to get a copy of my police report. As I read the accounts, I stopped, re-read, opened my mouth and with a fixed gaze, started laughing hysterically. The other driver told the police that he was distracted my a child on the median.
A child?! He obviously wasn’t looking at the person’s face! He was looking at the BHG’s hair! He turned in front of me because he was in awe of the man’s beautiful hair!
Do other people see my guardian angel as a child? I’m not sure. I snapped a picture of him once and this is all I got. A blurry vision of the BHG, but I’m okay with that.
Today, on the way back from lunch, a guy on a moped pulled a U-turn into oncoming traffic. He was swerving and nearly ran off the road as I approached his slow bike.
The man then swerved into the left lane, and as I passed, I glanced at him to find his face and hands covered in blood. He resembled a scraggly John Oates with some grunge band hair.
We reached a stoplight, and I soon got excited as I felt an opportunity to take pics. For a split-second, the man was standing there on the moped, but quickly leaned over and fell in front of my car.
I looked over, and his legs and feet were covered in blood too. I yelled to him “Are you okay?” “Nooooooo-ow! Ow!,” he replied. “Do you want me to call and ambulance?” “No, don’t worry about it. Ow. Oh noooo…” I called 9-1-1. An off-duty police officer pulled up and started assessing the ‘sitch. Then another off-duty officer, and an on-duty officer, a fire truck, and an ambulance until my car was completely surrounded by emergency vehicles.
A cop walked over and said “I could probably pull my car back and let you back out… Independence, man…” I looked over, and he was shaking his head, so I shot him a chummy grin as I knew exactly what he meant. “I have to carry around a camera to take photos of this kind of thing, or no one will believe me,” I said. “Did you get any good ones?” asked the cop as he was kinda giggling at the mess in front of us.
John Motherf**kn Bates