Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Toe Nails, Piercings, and Man Purses

Normal everyday things now and then strike me as downright curious. You know those little things on the end of our feet? They are certainly peculiar, and almost funny. Have you ever been to the beach and walked around looking at people’s toes? They are all so different there are long toes, fat toes, short nailed toes, pretty painted toes, ugly man toes, and toes with giant corns sticking out of them.
Regular things done in excess can also be weird. Have you ever had someone say to you, “What are you looking at?” That happened to me the other day. I said, “Oh, sorry, nothing, nothing.” What I wanted to say was, “I was starring in awe and wonder, trying to figure out why someone would take a perfectly good set of lips and let someone poke holes in them.”
I am pretty sure people do this mostly because they want to be looked at. So, it kind of bugs me when I stare and they react with “What are you starring at?” I have recently concluded they like being starred at, just not by me.
My friend Abe, you all remember him? He first gave me the idea that people who do such things want attention. When Abe and I are in the vicinity of someone that has gone over the edge in their weirdness; he will start talking to them about their weirdness. He might say something like, “Hey, when you are eating rice, do you have any trouble keeping from spitting rice across the room with that barbell in you lip? One time I listened to Abe have a 10 minute conversation about hair dyes, techniques to apply, and the best hair dye brands with a kid who had bright green hair. Abe says to me, these people who do these behaviors have a need to be significant. So, when I talk to them I am giving them a small piece of significance. Well, I figured Abe’s words made pretty good sense.
The above principle does not always apply to people acting and looking weird. One day I was in line at the pizza place and a giant of a man was standing next to me holding a purse. Now I should probably say, when this occurred, I might not have fully understood the principle: “When you don’t understand something you might be miles ahead to just keep quite.” But, of course I thought I understood this poor man’s position exactly. I figured this man was whipped and his girl friend or wife was in the bathroom and had told him to hold her purse.
So, in an effort to show mercy and kindness to him, I casually open a dialogue. “Don’t you hate it when your woman wants you to hold her purse? I refused to do that a long time ago. You might think about taking a similar tact. I am just trying to help, next time you might end up in a more embarrassing situation than a pizza place holding who knows what.”
“Mr. this is not a purse it is a _ _ _ _ _. It is a man’s bag. “
I think the word he used to describe the bag was French. I don’t care what name he gave it. That did not change the fact it looked like a woman’s purse to me.
“Oh, I didn’t know there was such a thing. Sorry!” I meekly turned and walked to the other side of the waiting area hoping he would not follow me. I checked to see if the huge man was self controlled and apparently he was. I didn’t get the stuffing kicked out of me that night. Whew!
Just being friendly has brought trouble my way on more than one occasion. In those times I surprise myself with what comes tumbling across my lips. I will think, ‘Grayquill did you actually say that?”
“Of, course you did, if you would listen to me now and then instead of just willy-nilly saying everything that pops into your head maybe you would be in less trouble.”
“Oh, so you think you can do better? Why don’t you do the talking from now on? “
“Hey, I try to. But, when I know it is better just to be quiet, the silence seems to kill you and you just take over with blah, blah, blah, blah… and then we are both in trouble. I would appreciate it if you would just take a nap when we are in the company of a person. I’ll tell you what - you talk all you want when we are in the car alone or in the shower, or alone fishing, but when we are in the presence of people why don’t you just let me do the talking?”
“You know you are real a pain sometimes. Are you done now? Have you sufficiently shamed me? Or do you need to continue?”
“I am done.”
Is there a lesson here? Yip! Why wouldn’t there be…”If you talk to yourself, try not to answer yourself in public. People will just think you are weird.”
Well that certainly was a big mess…crazy people talking to themselves, feet and toes, man purses, piercings, and blah, blah, blah….. Sorry for wasting your time.
But seriously, people are very odd sometimes. There is an area in our city called Capital Hill, it is known for its weirdness. A full day of entertainment can happen, just sitting at a sidewalk cafĂ© watching the sea of humanity stroll by. That statement drips of judgments and biases – “I am better than them.” - Does that pretty much cover it?
I am as sick about that as you are.
Growing up, two dominate messages followed me into adulthood. One was: Anyone different, had something wrong with them and I needed to be afraid of them. The second was: Anyone different was probably a heathen, not nice, and probably out to get me.
Even though I am still a little afraid of anyone different I have found underneath the tattoos, the piercings is a person who sometimes feels lonely just like I do, is afraid just like I am sometimes, talks to himself just like I do on my blog, and probably is trying to figure out this thing called life much the same as I am.
A quote from Steve Brown might serve well for our lesson - “I am just a beggar telling another beggar where he can find bread” That might be a good starting point.


betty said...

I try to keep my mouth shut when I'm out in public with my children, so they won't find me an embarrassment, and so they will take me with them again, sometime. But, one day we were having lunch and the waitress had her fingernails painted a different color each, and a sparkly little "jewel" right in the middle of each one. I just couldn't stand it. I had to ask her about them. So, when I said, "May I see your nails?" My kids both rolled their eyes and started plotting their escape. The waitress was thrilled to tell me all about how she got those "jewels" cemented on her nails so they wouldn't fall off. So, you're right. They want you to ask.

Sylvia K said...

When my youngest son was in his late teens, he suddenly turned up with a really weird hair do/cut???? whatever, along with jeans held together with several dozen safety pins and I decided rather than to question his quirky apparel, I would just go along with him as though he looked perfectly normal -- which was a long way from the facts. My youngest daughter would sometimes go out at night in clothes that I only hoped wouldn't get her arrested. But you know what? By not over reacting, I took the fun out of being "far out" and within a few months, they were looking and dressing quite normal again. The only thing I asked them not to do was get a tattoo and none of my four ever got one of those. I was a rebel as a teenager and recognized it when mine showed the same signs. By refusing to comment or make a big deal out of it -- I don't know, maybe took the fun out of being "radically different", but whatever they have grown into remarkably normal people -- particularly considering the mother that they had. Great post! Brought back lots of memories! Have a lovely evening!


Anonymous said...

Oooh..Grayquill talks..nay..advises weird looking strangers, who are bigger than the process stuffs his foot in his mouth...Ain't that surprising? :)

My advise to Grayquill:
1) Learn to stare discreetly. Furtive glances. That way if they see you they will assume that thou art shifty and hence weird...I mean..weirder.
2)If caught staring..Break into Abe mode..Yes. I like his strategy. Everyone likes attention.
3)If different scares you, come vacation in our part of the world. Every 2nd person is different: Speaks a different language, prays to a different God, has a different culture, different festivals, habits, tradition...You get the gist!

Finally: Loved the last two paragraphs. Inspiring! :)

Anonymous said...

It is hard not to stare-I know just what you mean, but I do agree that it is attention they are after. I once saw two men, both outwardly normal, smart clothes, clean white shirts, well spoken...but both of the men were tattooed on every bit of flesh that was exposed, head [one was bald] neck, face and hands, so I can only assume that the rest of them was a highly decorated. I could not stop myself from staring in amazement, with a bemused smile on my face. I received two beaming smiles in return.

Dianne said...

if you wear sunglasses you can stare all you want ;)
of course they won't keep you from saying something but if you're not looking directly at anyone they will think you're talking to yourself and they'll stare at you
but if they're wearing sunglasses too you won't know and it could go on forever

personally I adore eccentric, extravagant people
the spice of life

come to NYC, we'll hang out in Times Square and try to find someone who isn't different :)

Blunt Edges said...

u really talk 2 yourself in public? n u talk about u staring at other people? i guess more often than u staring at others, they might be staring at u!
quite a few "staring"s in there...right?

Pink Mango Tree said...

hehhee... staring at people without them noticing u is an art..!! :)
May be you can use sun glasses next time! ;)

Hilary said...

The more I see of piercings and tattoos, the less they stand out.. the less I tend to stare. Take Dianne up on her offer.. you'll probably still talk to yourself though. :)

Grayquill said...

Betty: So you are in real life just like you are on your blog. I like how you said you would try to keep your mouth shut when out in public– seriously? I think maybe you and me are more alike than I originally thought. Go Betty! Say it like it is…

Sylvia: Maybe a reaction is what they were looking for and maybe they looked in the mirror :)
I think you are a wise mother. Any tactic that works makes us parents look like geniuses.

Choco: Dripping sarcasm – advise – and a compliment….Yes! signature Choco :) And yes, I get the gist! Thanks for stopping by!

Moannie: It is so nice to find an understanding friend. Your two friends certainly were a matched pair.

Dianne: That’s what I need sunglasses…I have a pair around here some where...hmmm where are those things? Maybe they are under the seat of my truck. I know two pair are – one is in the Yakima River and the other is at the bottom of Lone Lake.
NYC? I was in Syracuse once does that count?

Blunt Edges: Gee you have given me more thoughts than my pea brain can spin straight. I will be on guard for those lookie lookers.

$$: You come and visit and you laugh at me, hmmm….sun glasses does seem to be the suggestion of choice. I will work on it. Thanks.

Hillary: Of course I will talk to myself - why wouldn't I? You say that like there is something wrong with that/me.

Tall Guy said...

Interesting piece

Must say I often wondered too why would someone get piercings on their lips or tongue. wrong places to show off. I guess I may have too would have been caught with staring :)

Male purse reminds me of Joey's bag in Friends show.

I guess everyone has a weirdness in them, but how they show it off matters :)

Amrita said...

Ace post GQ.

I 'd love to be in the company of Abe.
I have to confess that I' d stare but in a discreet kind of way, but keep my mouth shut. (unless its a close relative or friend who has shocked me)Wearing dark glasses is a good idea.
What Betty said is so funny. I was at a wedding with an aunt and she made an embarassing statement to the bride 's mother who who dressed up for the occasion. I wanted to become an ostritch.
But as Choco says in my country , India there is so much diversity of dress, culture, habits, apearance, language & religion that what is weird sometimes seems normal.But i tell you there are plenty of strange people - specially in the world of religion.

Arkansas Patti said...

Much prefer piercings to tats. At least when the fad fades, you can pull out the rings and the holes will close. Not so much with tats.
Love to watch people with all kinds of diversity. Makes me feel so normal.

Lynda G. said...

You had me at man bags. SHIVER.

Karthik said...

Hahaha.. :D I exactly feel the same way. I never understood (still dont) why people wear rings on lips, eyebrows, etc. and call them studs. Funny people really. Some even wear something round (don't know what they call it) on the tongue and constantly take out their tongues to show off. That's so damn weird! Upon asking why, they call me old school. :P
Fabulous post indeed. :)

Grayquill said...

The Survivor: Hmm…I try to hide my weirdness most of the time – what is your number one weirdness? And how do you show it off? Now you have me curious.

Amrita: Yes! The dark glasses are a must! Being in the company of Abe is a guaranteed belly laugh at least once. Your aunt sounds like she will say what she thinks? That can be a problem in many social settings. Isn’t there a proverb about a fool who seems wise by keeping quite; for when they speak they remove all doubt.

Arkansas Patti: You got a point about removing the rings. I am glad you and I are so normal :) :)

Lynda G: Thank you for the shiver! :)

Karthik: Thanks for the comment. Weird, different for sure…I remember my dad asking me why I wanted long hair and what benefit came from mag wheels on my car. Every generation has something I think it is foolish when it is something permanent.

Debra said...

I've been rather amazed by all the strange piercings and tattoos lately. But "the man purses" are really least here in the south, fer sure! Did you see the "Seinfeld" episode about George (I think) getting a man purse. It was so funny!