Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Quickest Way to Attain Village Weirdo Status

The quickest way to attain village weirdo status in a small town is to walk everywhere. Try it out. As you’re transitioning, people will stop and ask you if you want a ride. Say "no" and tell them you like walking. Watch their eyes get wide, as if you’ve just said you like the burning feeling that comes from having chlamydia. The most random people will stop and offer, and saying “no” is often awkward. Once, an obese woman in a beat-up station wagon followed me down a main thoroughfare screaming, "Ralphie's mom!" "Ralphie's mom! "Ralphie's mom!" It turned out she’d been my son’s bus driver, at a preschool he'd attended, more than three years ago, although my son's first name isn't "Ralphie." If they go through the inconvenience of stopping, you will learn that they expect you to say “yes,” and get in the car.

In the early days of your identity switch, you will meet all the people who make Nancy Grace so popular: the 40+ crowd who sees only killers and rapists in the joggers, dog walkers, and stroll takers you share the sidewalks with. Some of them will tell you that they see what you’re doing as "inspirational," make a comment about your "tight buns," then stick a pastry in their mouths as they dismiss hoofing it as too assault-risky.

Once you’ve ascended to village weirdo status, you will be mentioned in the same breath as the woman who hangs out outside Stop ’n’ Shop, wears multiple, heavy coats in summer, and supposedly lost her children in a fire. You will become community property. People will comment on your clothes, your pace, and scold you out their car windows as they pass, "Don’t text and walk!" Some will find that they have developed a quiet affection for you.  On the days that they don't see you out there walking, they will wonder where you are, and how you are traveling. They will have come to count on seeing you as a regular thing. They will hope that you are ok. They will find that they miss you, even though they think you are weird.

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