Since I spend the majority of my week locked in an exhausting and morally perilous trek to and from the city, now that the weather's warm I'm more than happy to curl up on a bar stool at my favorite local bar overlooking the ocean in my little beach town on the weekends and totally unwind. And yes, that sound you just heard was B shitting his pants.
As with any little beach town, ours is filled with its colorful cast of characters, otherwise known as the townies. Granted, every neighborhood -- city or country -- has its whack jobs, but in the city, they're a bit less noticeable. In the city, we spend our time bopping in and out of countless watering holes. But when you suddenly find yourself ordering beers at just one or two bars, those questionable characters hovering around you, heavy breathing behind your back as you order another round become a lot more conspicuous.
After many weeks of careful anthropological observation, I have broken down the townies into distinct categories.
1) The guy who sits at the same bar stool every night. He doesn't talk to anyone. He doesn't smile. But everyone knows who he is because no matter what day of the week, he'll be there. Every. Night. And if you happen to be new to the area and you just happen to sit at the first open bar stool you see and that just happens to be "his" bar stool, he will stand directly behind you, not saying a word, just breathing heavily, his hands resting on top of his bulbous stomach, waiting for you to leave to he can plop his ass down on his stool with a look that just screams "HOW. DARE. YOU."
2) The guy who sits at the same bar stool every night who buys everyone else drinks. This is a popular man in the small beach towns. He laughs loud and he laughs often, his face ruddy, his skin leathered from either a lifetime of drinking or fishing or both. He is a good townies to know because hello, free drinks. I want to call this man Captain and throw my arm around him and laugh and laugh and laugh. Maybe we'll split a 30-rack and go fishing one day. Maybe we'll just talk about splitting a 30-rack and going fishing. Either way, it all sounds good over a nice cold beer at our favorite bar.
3) The guy who walks into the bar, takes a look around, and stands in the corner for the rest of the night, smiling at no one and nursing his drink. This type of man is met with equal parts pity and suspicion. Pity because it hurts to see anyone so socially awkward. What caused this debilitating awkwardness? A tragic love story? A mangling physical accident? A smothering mother? Who knows, but this subject is not quite right in the head. And suspicion because any man who is not quite right in the head is met with suspicion from me. Are you going to follow me into the bathroom, knock me out with a dirty hankie full of chloroform, throw me in a muddy pit in your basement and make a vest out of my soft, delicate skin? You never know. I'm never entirely at ease around these types of people because I feel like I need to be on my toes. You know what they say in the Boy Scouts: Be Prepared (to potentially be abducted by a perv who wants to make skin clothes out of you). And don't make eye contact. Momma didn't raise no fool.
I was discussing this beach town townie with a friend at the bar this weekend when in walked a variation of townies #3. Naturally, I was all "dude." And she was all, "oh no big deal, that's just Curled Up Hand Man," and turned back to her beer. My eyes became big as saucers because excuse me WHAT? Curled Up Hand Man does indeed have one curled up hand, which he hides surprisingly well, tucked beneath his other arm. And apparently, he's a bit of a figure in this town. Everyone knows Curled Up Hand Man. Oh, normal. Of course everyone knows CUHM. And you know what? Some people even love CUHM. Because when it comes to small town characters, just like when it comes to small towns, sometimes you just need to embrace the CUHM.