Mark Twain once said, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”
I laughed aloud when I read the above, as it explains many things in my humble existence. Predisposed to dealing with life’s rich pageant the hard way, I marvel when things come easily. Generally cursed and jaded from over simplifying things then buried by them, I’ve come to learn that in nearly all matters, both personal and professional, are far more complicated than first imagined. If anything, this character flaw has instilled in me a profound sense of paranoia always looking for the ‘other shoe’ to drop.
I had the occasion to be at Blondie’s (big surprise) sitting in ‘Curmudgeon Corner’ last week. I was enjoying an adult beverage, relishing my ‘alone’ time by listening to Liz Mandeville on the juke box. If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy her brand of blues, I highly recommend it. Being alone at the bar is rare, so I had the music turned up at MAX and had just begun my patented head dance when somebody walked in. My hearing has diminished over the last few years, and the crack wait staff at Blondie’s has accommodated me each time I ask for increased volume. The more patrons that arrive, more volume is needed to hear over the din. Oddly the stranger had every seat but mine to choose from but for whatever reason decided to sit directly next to me. I was immediately irritated!
I guessed him to be in his forties with a bad comb-over and Mike Shanahan eyes. You know, the former Bronco’s head coach, while one eye is focused on you, the other eye wanders like some crazed Chameleon. He immediately wanted to talk. He started in blathering on about the Bronco’s shaky start to this season, repeating what every sports geek has already commented on, so I ignored him hoping he had to catch a bus. He didn’t even notice and started in about his new job as the Assistant Manager of Tokyo Joe’s noodles and now felt important. My ignoring became intensified as I now began to roll my eyes. He was still oblivious.
Having thrown a couple beers back the stranger got the attention of Monica our ‘Polish Princess’ and demanded that she lower the volume. This is always a point of contention with me so Monica looked at me then back to the stranger then back at me for some indication of what she should do. Given it was just the two of us, I was about to give her the okay and let her off the hook, when the stranger chimed in with “Christ lady I can’t even have a conversation it’s so loud!” This clueless statement sent me over the edge. “What conversation?” I asked. Before he could answer, I continued, “Are you referring to the interminable insipid rambling’s coming from your pie-hole?” Still not waiting for a reply, “Didn’t you notice that no one, particularly me, was interested in your inane commentary and totally ignored you? Listen you boring maggot, not only do I not care but would encourage you to leave or at the very least move to the other side of the bar! When you can pony up a dollar to actually play some music, only then can you ask for the volume to be lowered. So until then, shut the fuck up!”
The stranger immediately welled up; tears flowing down both cheeks. This was not the reaction I expected. The stranger got up and while still crying, left the bar in a huff. Monica looked at me as if I’d just farted. “Whaaaat?” I shrugged, “He’s a simpleton and will eventually get over it!” I ordered another beverage and returned to my solitude.
About ten minutes later the stranger returned with a matronly looking woman who didn’t look happy. Blondie’s is located right next to the Littlewood Library and Community Center. Meeting rooms are available to damn near anyone with a cause, and filled every day by some organization tilting at windmills. Ms. Willard was visibly upset as she approached me already waiving her finger at me. “Are you happy now?” she facetiously asked then dove right in to the heart of the matter. “In 30 minutes you managed to erase twelve months of counseling, and group therapy!” Her hands on her hips trembling with rage, she explained that Mr. Tallis suffers from a mental condition called “Body Dysmorphic Disorder.” We’re such wimp-ass’d people anymore; disorders for every pathetic weakness perceived or real! Those that suffer from this condition take minor flaws in their physical appearance such as the nose or face, thinning hair, acne, wrinkles, scars etc… and blow it way out of proportion to the point of becoming a social nitwit!
Evidently Mr. Tallis had just received a certificate of completion and pronounced normal when he chose Blondie’s. I apologized to Ms. Willard and Mr. Tallis and wished him success in his struggle with his roving eye and suggested Rogaine for his baldness. With that Mr. Tallis resumed crying while Ms. Willard led him out of the bar and back to therapy.
“carrying a cat by the tail” is indeed the pathway to further light and knowledge!