Odd things happen to us in less-than-odd circumstances.
It’s possible that I’m a magnet for these things. Or I suppose it’s also possible that I’m just twisting ordinary circumstances into a sensational lollipop-guild type of tale. Maybe this stuff really isn’t weird.
You be the judge.
It was a cold Thursday afternoon, a week or so ago. There was no school the following day, because people in our county think we should have a weekday to get on down to the county fair. We had no intentions of getting down to that fair, but the fact that we had nowhere we had to be the next day made it feel like a Friday night that needed to be celebrated. We had survived the week. Some weeks this is a bigger deal than others. But when you add to the celebratory feel of the day a swirl of nippy February wind, you got yourselves a family party at the local Cracker Barrel. And that’s exactly where we went.
They seated us near the large stone fire place and across from the oversized checker set. The kids had a ball playing the little peg game that is always at a Cracker Barrel table. I could not convince them that there was supposed to be one peg missing from every game. Otherwise, how will you jump over other pegs, guys? There’d be no place to land. But whatever.
It was a good, good dinner of southern, comfort foods, accompanied by pleasant chit chat. And as it was drawing to a close and the kids were beginning to at least entertain the thought of bouncing like monkeys under the table, there came a bit of a ruckus that had nothing to do with us. To my left, an older, heavy-set gentleman sporting some low-sitting glasses and a shiny piece of rubber where his hair used to be sped up on one of those spiffy mobility scooters. When I say sped, that is exactly what I mean. He sped up on that scooter, practically screeched to a halt there next to AG, whose eyes became VERY large, and parked. Before any of us could form the words “What in the world?”, he flipped open a very accommodating basket and began to dig through a collection of at least 30 homemade pet rocks, complete with colored fuzz toupees and googly eyes, and plenty of personality. And as he dug, he rambled.
“I’d like to give you guys some pet rocks. I like to make these for children. Here’s one for the big dude and one for you,” nodding to Mama’sBoy. “Can’t forget the little munch, but let’s let Mama hold onto the one for the baby, ‘cause she’ll just eat it right now.” I think I was squinting out of pure shock. I hope I didn’t look angry. I just kept having flashbacks to William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, thinking about setting broken legs in concrete and traveling across country by wagon to bury a rotting corpse. I realize this isn’t nearly so extreme, but one of the rocks does have a satin purple ribbon that is tying back human hair. Human hair, people. And while I think this is very funny indeed, I also think it’s weird.
All I can say is that when a dude rolls up and showers your kids with oddly decorated rock people, you have an immediate out with not spending money in the gift shop.
And since I laugh every time I look upon this sight, I will leave you to decide for yourself. Does it remind you of Faulkner? Or do you not read….?