Epiphany

Warning:  This post is not intended for normal people. 

Sometimes life can go by without a care, no bad thoughts, just smiles all the time….  I love it when life comes by like that.  But it comes in spurts.

Other times are filled with sadness.  Someone becomes ill, terribly so.  Or finds out they have cancer….  Or someone you thought was a friend goes to jail for something incredibly stupid, like shop lifting…  Good Lord….

So tonight my roommate and I go out for dinner and shopping.  The traffic signals worked like they always do: Red, green, and then yellow.  The lines on the road were the same as always: solid white on the right, dotted white in the middle, solid yellow on the left…  Ok, looks like a normal night.

Wal-Mart looks like Wal-Mart always does.  Tons of cars in the lot.  People coming in and out.  OK, let’s give it a shot.

But once inside I turned into William Shatner in that “Twilight Zone” episode where he saw a “monster man” on the wing of the airplane that no one else could see.  For all intents and purposes, I think I have been swallowed up into Rod Serling’s intensely bizarre bizzarro world….

One guy just stood in the middle of a cross aisle and as my roommate Lynne walked past- I watched as his eyes and head followed her like some kind of creepy painting in a haunted castle movie.  I can’t be sure because I don’t have a lot of experience with creepy, but I think he was trying to make eye contact with Lynne, who maybe he thought would come out of her lifelong fog and suddenly realize that the man of her dreams is some creepy dude loitering in the middle of Wal-Mart.  I’m not oblivious that there are people in this world who actively seek anonymous sexual encounters, and I don’t like being judgmental but I must say please, stay to fuck away from me because I like life much better when I can pretend you don’t exist.  I just get the urge to wash my hands less often if I can pretend life is about puppy dogs and candy.

While we’re in line I’m watching a toe-headed little boy, about 3, circling what appears to be his mother and a creature she had apparently picked up in the lagoon aisle.  Does Wal-Mart have a lagoon aisle?  This creature had posture and somehow this intensely slimy body language that makes one imagine there must be a trail of sludge following behind him from the nearest sewer grate as though he just recently escaped from there.  His skin was either dirt colored or dirt tee, it was hard to tell in the blaring lights of Wal-Mart.  On the back of his tee-shirted neck was a tattooed “Bar Code,” like the bar code you might find on products in Wal-Mart….  The “Bar Code” was pleasantly framed on both sides of the neck by what looked fish scales, certainly an attractive look for the Lagoon Creature.  And so I pondered if the “Bar Code” was a social statement this creature was attempting to relay, or if it might be a new marking method that Fish and Wildlife Officers use to track creatures in the sewers these days.  While my mind was boggling that notion, I noticed that the little boy had two tattoos, on one either arm.  Now….  This is a 3 year old little blonde headed, happy little kid circling and chanting “Woman, woman, look at me!”  – you know, like all little kids do.  In fact, I do that occasionally while I’m standing in Wal-Mart trying to make eye contact with passing women…

So I said to my friend, “Lynne, that little boy has tattoos.”  And of course Lynne, the ever glowing optimist says “They must be the fake ones…”

Now, I’ve had a few kids over the years.  I know what fake kid tattoos are.  They are colorful little Batman or Spiderman tattoos that wash off, or little Cinderella, Ariel, or Belle from Beauty and the Beast tattoos.  They are not India-blue colored “teardrops” like normally found on the corners of gang member eyes.  The little boy’s other arm had an India-blue outline of a Christian cross.  Now I haven’t done my research on this, and I don’t know where one would buy fake tattoos like that.  But I’m gonna’ go out on a limb here and just say – nobody makes ‘em.

So we then went to Lee’s restaurant because Lee’s restaurant simply has the best tasting chicken in the world.  When I die, rest assured there will be little surprise to find Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken is the only restaurant in Heaven.  What else could you need?  The only surprising part of that would be me – being in Heaven.

As we are driving in Lee’s Parking Lot I see a scruffy, dirty looking man standing in the parking lot, looking into windows of the cars parked on the side of the building.  Having been in law enforcement for 20+ years, I decided to park my own car near a window so I could watch it while eating…  I’m not being a hater here, guys, just a lover of my car.

As we are walking into the building, this guy holds the door open for us.  I see now that he is wearing a dirty Tee shirt that says “Lee’s Famous Recipe” on it.   We walk up to the counter, and he walks behind the counter back to the fry cook area.

The girl behind the counter had more metal in her face than my first typewriter had metal in its keys.  The four bedazzled jewel studs in her lips were not in the white, fleshy area surrounding her lips.  Oh no.  They were IN her lips.  And I must say they were beautifully complimented by the half dozen or so studs seemingly placed at random intervals across her monstrous eyebrows…

And while standing there, half-heartedly listening to Lynne place our chicken order I found myself thinking not “Oh boy!  We’re getting Lee’s Chicken!”, like I should have been thinking, or Like I want to be thinking whenever I find myself standing at the counter of Lee’s Chicken Restaurant….  Oh no, not tonight.  Tonight I was only thinking “If she is so concerned about her appearance, why doesn’t she shave her mustache.”

We find our seat, sip our tea, and devour our chicken.  I notice an older gentleman close to us sitting alone.  He is a healthy, maybe a little overweight man of about 75, I would guess.  He was wearing shorts and I could see the scars on his legs where many, many blood vessels had been stripped out.  I know those scars because of family members who needed bypass surgeries.  They use the leg vessels to replace the heart vessels.

Though he seemed healthy enough I got the unmistakable feeling that he was lonely.  I suddenly imagined myself at that age, not far off really, being alone, after my spouse, or significant others are gone, eating alone, just waiting for the inevitable, I suppose.  How does one deal with life when the person he loves is gone?

So I paused my devouring long enough to clear my throat, look his way and say “Man, this is good chicken, isn’t it?”  I held my gaze in his direction until he looked over, smiled and agreed.  “Yes, yes, it really is!”

A few minutes later my friend Lynne was having problems repackaging the leftover chicken back into the box it came in.  She couldn’t get the box to close properly.  She handed me the box and said “I must be dumber than the box.  Can you close this please.”

Now, I eat at Lee’s every week and by coincidence, I’m pretty good at their boxes.  I closed the box and jokingly said to Lynne, “Oh no, Lynne.  It’s not you Dear.  (Wink wink)  It’s just a really hard box.”  At this point the older gentleman laughed out loud and suddenly, I mean just for a second or so, I felt really good to lighten the heart of someone who may have needed it.

Then some dumbass kid with huge metal “gauges” protruding from his ear lobes (stretched out now like a statue of Buddha) sat down on our other side and I just wanted to punch him in the head.  Then I thought, “Man, he should hook up with metal-head at the counter…..  No chance of offspring there with these two fucking idiots. What are the chances they’ll survive long enough to have a kid? Or feed it if they do?”

On the way home all the traffic signals worked like they were supposed to: Red, Green, and then Yellow.  The road lines were in the correct places.  A seemingly normal night.  But I was trapped in the Twilight Zone.

But, no homo, I couldn’t help but wonder if the older gentleman might have just been on dinner break from his job as glory hole attendant at the local park….  I don’t really want to know.

What has happened to the world?  I want to blame it on society’s need to dumb down education and the relentless effort to remove competition from everything.  Instead of having winners and losers, in today’s world everyone is taught that he is a winner and is special.  When they grow up, (and suddenly the LaLa land of public school is behind them), they find themselves in minimum wage jobs with no hope of advancement or any type of perks.  Do they finally realize that they are not winning?  No, because they are completely convinced that winning is not necessary,  So to maintain the illusion of being special, which seems to be the only end-all brass ring of life that they are aware of,  they punch their heads full of holes and fill them with steel.  “Look at me!  I can’t get through a metal detector, but all this insane custom from completely different cultures makes me smart and handsome and trendy!  I’m special because I paid money for someone to deform my face.” 

Guess what, idiots?  Being able to spend $9 and 99 cents to defile your body doesn’t make you special, nor does it make you more loving than others simply because they don’t “get” you…..  People aren’t looking down at you because they hate you.  People are looking down at you because you are completely blind to what respect is.   Please understand that your previous generation assigned “special-ness” to actual achievement, like ending Polio or collectively landing a man on the moon and having him walk around in the most destructive atmosphere known in the history of life – and then return alive!  Do you really think that piece of metal in your flesh makes you that special?   How in the hell does a tattoo match the awesomeness of creating nuclear energy?  Or making a 20,000 pound vehicle fly 50,000 feet off the ground at 800 miles per hour? 

I’m sorry, but I just will not sit silently by and watch this insane crap infest the world that I live in without saying something.  Honestly, if you can make the world a better, more wonderful place then I don’t care how many pounds of metal you have in your body or tattoos on your skin.  Respect comes from making the world a better place.  Or at least attempting to make it better.

And as for sexual proclivities, please, for the love of God, keep them to yourself.  I don’t care if you are gay, straight, bisexual, asexual….  That is none of my business.  I don’t want to hear about what gets your rocks off.   I mean, can’t we just talk about football, or needlepoint?  Why do people feel the need to flaunt their sexuality?  Has some societal boundary been dropped that makes you feel justified in letting me know what you like to stick your genitals into……  News flash:  I didn’t ask, and don’t want to know.

For 27 years my ex-wife told me every day how I acted like I am better than everybody else, and for 27 years i denied that emphatically – never really understanding why she would think that.  But now in the twilight years of my life: Epiphany.  I am fucking better.

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About johnallenrichter

I am an aspiring Poet and adorer of life, a conqueror of nothing. However I am a champion curator of truth and friendship and hold both of those things most dearly to my heart. Welcome to my mind's eye. I hope you will enjoy what you may find and please know that you have a friend here. View all posts by johnallenrichter

5 responses to “Epiphany

  • Mary

    John, I usually don’t enjoy sitting and reading long writes such as this, but I must say I found this rather rivetting. Enjoyed all of the characters you met up with, all of the experiences you had. I’m really not a fan of all that metal either. Really even hard to look at a person sometimes who has such piercings that make me think they must REALLY be painful. And a little boy with a tattoo? Yikes!! Lots of reflectiveness here. Really a worthy write.

  • Margaret

    I read the whole thing as well… I know there will be people who will say that just because someone has all that “metal” it doesn’t make them a “bad” person… but I can’t help but have an initial reaction that isn’t positive… I mean, for one, my stomach flips, especially when I see the ear gauges. And in my opinion, I think many choose to do such things as crazy tattoos (I’m not talking all tattoos) and “extreme metal” FOR a reaction… to stand out and make an “in your face” statement.

    You are being honest. Now take this and go write a poem 🙂

    • johnallenrichter

      Sorry guys…. Just a little self-therapeutic ranting. I can not tolerate long winded monotribes either and am frankly surprised, and a little honored, that you weathered the particularly boring storm of this one.

      For the record, I don’t hate people who tattoo or pierce themselves. Nor do I think they are necessarily bad people. But honestly, if you saw two people on the side of the road needing assistance (in two different towns), one of them having a shaved head filled with spider web and skull tattoos, while the other is dressed in an Eagle Scout uniform, which one are you more likely to stop and assist?

      It’s a no brainer. And people who choose to do these things know that before they ever do it. In fact, that is why they do it. So I am immune to any politically correct nonsense that asserts I am an asshole for pointing that out. The king is naked. I believe we should simply say so.

  • willowdot21

    Yes you are and never forget it!! 😉 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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