Friday, February 13, 2009
This building is located at the intersection of Route 3 and the short-cut to Deltaville, whatever that road is called. I posted a picture of the door to this place earlier in the week, and much to my surprise Anonymous Hallieford Reader correctly identified it. She travels that way so often she probably has the image permanently etched on her brain. I'd like it noted for the record that I had a very narrow patch of ground on which to park my car, and as a result, I was practically in the road trying to take this. Several people driving by gawked and wondered what on Earth I was doing. I'm starting to get used to it, sort of like getting used to people's quirks and eccentricities, which has something--but not much--to do with today's post.
This entry in my little story contest is about quite the character, although he's not from Mathews. That's OK, though, because I specifically stated in my rules that anyone, anywhere could participate, and it is comforting to know that Mathews doesn't have a monopoly on weird and/or memorable people, although I do believe we give other communities a run for the money.
Here's #9. #9. #9. (I'm having flashbacks to college for some reason.)
by Contestant #9
Well. Now that I have recovered sufficiently from MMM's most excellent and moving tribute to his Poppa, which is to say I teared up, choked up, considered taking a smoke break even though I've never smoked, and instead went in the editing room to jabber at my co-worker . . . now that all of that is behind me, I believe I have a story for you.
There's one guy in town who doesn't really need a last name. Every town has a couple of those, right? Colorful singular, memorable. And they're probably octogenarians or at least AARP members. But this one is a little different. His name is Larry, and he's the same age as me, and as CBW, by the way. Let's just call it late twenties, and don't start counting on your fingers.
Larry is different, though I can't give it an exact name. He's not retarded -- he took mainstream classes, including my biology class in our freshman year. He just looks through a different camera lens, shall we say. You can see it immediately in his expression, which often looks tense, almost pained. But he's quite happy, Larry is.
In high school Larry attended every single sporting event, and I am not exaggerating by much. He went to band concerts, plays, and, yes, even dances, although I don't think he went to proms. He loved to dance, but never asked anyone to join him, preferring instead to pogo joyfully around the edges of the teeming hoards of way-cool teenagers. At about six feet tall and comfortably under 150 pounds, Larry dancing the pogo dance was an impressive sight.
As you might expect, Larry's voice is quite recognizable, too. He has at least two pronounced speech impediments -- maybe like a thin little high-pitched nasal version of Barbara Walters doing a Rain Man impersonation. I'm not trying to be mean here, but it's important you know what Larry's voice sounds like, because he is not shy, and speaks right up in any situation. "Oh, I hear Larry," you might say, and the person you're with never asks "Larry who?" and then you'll see him, talking to someone while waiting in line at a book signing, or standing behind the coaches on the sidelines. Oh yes, Larry still goes to every single sporting event, graduation and concert he can attend.
In the aforementioned biology class Larry had the distinction of being the only person I ever saw to make Mr. Teacher lose his cool. Larry sat in my line of sight so I saw the whole thing. On this day, as Mr. Teacher lectured, Larry would get up, walk silently to Mr. Teacher's desk, take one Kleenex, and return to his seat, and he did this many times (Larry always had a runny nose). He then twisted the Kleenex into a long thin sword shape, jammed it up his nose, and began the process of pipe-cleaning his nostril, all the while listening to the lecture and taking some sort of notes. When Larry needed a fresh tissue, back he went to the desk. Mr. Teacher, a man who each spring willingly took a busload of teenagers on a three- to five-day field trip, a man completely impervious to the antics of 16-year-olds, had had enough. "Larry, take what you need -- take the whole box if you have to, but SIT. DOWN. and don't get up again." He fairly spit the words at Larry, who seemed surprised, but not upset. Larry solved the nose problem by putting a pipe-cleaning tissue sword up each nostril and leaving them there, the fluffy ends blooming luxuriously below his nose as he made notes. I imagine my own notes that day were pretty useless.
I saw Larry in July at my mumble-mumble-something-something class reunion. He pogo danced a little bit; his vertical leap isn't quite what it used to be, but it's still impressive. He had a couple of cocktails, but not to excess -- not like the last reunion, five years before. (Larry had a GOOOOOD time that night.)
Larry is a good conversationalist, in a way: he makes a point of remembering everything he can about everyone he knows, or even knows just a little. At the reunion he remembered that I was married with two little girls, and also that I used to have a gift store, but not anymore. This doesn't sound impressive until you remember that Larry does this with everyone, and his memory is long. And if Larry is really taken with someone, his level of fascination approaches the stalker level, if it were done by anyone else. He was particularly taken with a county supervisor and her family, and also our classmate Melissa, back when we were still in high school. "I don't know how he knows the stuff he does," she said to me once. "If it were anybody else I'd be frightened, but it's just Larry, so . . ." I knew what she meant.
"How many kisses did Larry give you?" my husband asked me after the reunion.
"Only one kiss and two hugs," I replied. "I must be aging poorly; it was three kisses and four hugs at the last reunion." Sigh. Not interesting enough to be stalked by Larry.
p.s. by CBW
I received an e-mail from Contestant #9 detailing how she had to attend a funeral recently and as she was crying her eyes out she was distracted by the flash of someone taking a picture. At a funeral. She started to become irritated that anyone would take flash pictures at someone's funeral until she saw who was taking the pictures: Larry.