Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Strangers with candy

There's something about strangers. Maybe it's all the years of "don't talk to strangers" that embedded the mystery of the man unknown into the slimy folds of my growing brain, only to surface in later years as an insatiable desire to know everyone.

The girl walking down the street with the green knit hat, the group at the concert with the cool shoes, the tall dude at the dog park with the crazy Wheaton. I'm struck with the overwhelming urge to invite them out, pick their brains, and maybe even befriend them if they score an 85% or above on my Are You Worthy to be My Friend test. Are they fun drunks? Good artists? On drugs? Smart? Complete freaking, Alicia Lane-esque whack jobs?

Case in point: yesterday the mailman brought me a few items I recently purchased on Amazon. And the cool thing about Amazon is that it's usually regular Joe schmoe's looking for a few extra bucks by selling their used books and DVDs and such online. So when I open up my mailbox to find that wonderful, slightly tattered copy of "What is the What," it wasn't from Mega Book Store, it was in a package from Regular Dude from Whothehellknows, Kansas.

And that cheesy little flowery sticker with his return address instantly struck a chord. Who is Regular Dude, and why did he sell What is the What? I have his address, maybe I'll write and ask him. We seem to have the same taste in books. Or maybe we don't. Maybe that's why he's selling it. Maybe I'm the Alicia Lane-esque whack job for sitting at my kitchen table thinking about the literary tastes of Regular Dude, and whether he prefers Rolling Rock to Magic Hat. Or maybe he just drinks Whiskey. He is from Kansas, after all.

I have one tiny window to a life I will never know. It's like Sitting at a red light, watching people pass your car. They don't seem me. I only notice them for a brief moment before they leave my life forever. But that lady with the ugly coat walking in front of my car has an entire lifetime of funny, sad, heartwarming, and fucked up stories that I'll never hear.

Even the mailman has stories. Think about that next time you're considering running over a pedestrian or watching your dog chomp the shit out of your friendly postal service employee.

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