My dad attracted the strange and semi-crazy wherever he went. A trait he passed on to me. I work retail for the clothes discount and for comic relief. Last night, the comic relief walked right into the store.
I’ll admit right up front that it was all my fault. I was at the front of the store straightening skirts in full view of the strange and semi-crazy. A guy in his sixties stopped in the doorway and looked around. Figuring he’d misplaced his wife—it happens all the time—I asked, “May I help you?”
“Hi. Do you sell the opposite of women’s clothes?” This caused me to take a closer look at him. His straw cowboy hat had a silver bucking bronco in the center. His multi-colored plaid shirt gaped below the last button and above the waist-band. His tan jeans were tucked snugly under a small beer belly.
I smiled (we’re polite no matter what) and said, “No, we sell women’s clothing.” Foolishly, I thought this would be the end of the conversation. But, no.
He walked in and said, “A friend of mine in Florida just lost both his mother and father to heart attacks within 24 hours.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.” This is where I should have kept my mouth shut, but I didn’t. “Sometimes that happens when people have been married a long time.”
“He was really upset. He said I always gave him good advice and he wanted to know what to do. I told him to get in his car and drive to Elko and go gambling.”
Odd advice, but whatever. I should mention at this point that I don’t have a poker face. So, I’m sure the, odd advice, but whatever, showed because he continued.
“That’s what his parents kept telling him to do.”
Okay, again, odd advice, but whatever.
“He took my advice. At the casino, he put a coin in the slot machine, pulled the handle, and won 1.7 million dollars.”
At this point, the needle on my BS meter has firmly in the “Yeah, right” zone. I said, “That’s lucky.”
“Yup.” He nodded.
I looked around for an escape. No one was in the store and my cohorts were at the cash wrap in the back. I was on my own.
I stepped back.
He followed. “Yup, this week I got a check for $475,000.”
“What a good friend. Most people wouldn’t do that.”
“He said he’d never have gotten the money if I hadn’t told him to go to Elko.”
I nodded. “So, you’re out buying some new clothes with your new money?” This had to be the end of his story.
“Yeah, I guess.”
Okay, why would you ask me if we had men’s clothes if you weren’t shopping? I wanted to point out that Eddie Bauer is just across the hall and they have lots of men’s clothes. I looked around. Still no help in sight.
He’d gone on without me. “When he sent me the money, he asked me what he should do with all the his winnings. I told him to take it down to Hollywood. He’s down there now and there’re three producers who want to make a movie of his life. He told me he’d give me half of what he made because without my advice he’d never have gone.”
“He’s a very good friend,” I recapped. Again you’d think this would be the end of the story. No such luck.
“We’ve been friends for years. I met him when I was the youngest Ranger ever. I was 18 and up in the back country on horseback.”
I’m not saying another word. I nod.
“When I was up in the Owyhee’s, I came across a couple of wolves.”
We’ve evidently switched topics. Will someone come by and just shoot me? Please!
“They were just like dogs.”
At this point, my BS meter suffers a breakdown.
“I could pet them and they hung around my camp all the time.”
The thing about wolves is, they’re wild animals and you’re prey.
And the story continued. “I was sitting around my campfire one night and I looked up to find a big grizzly bear standing on its hind legs, ready to attack me. In those days we weren’t allowed to carry a gun.” Wait for it… “that’s when my two wolf friends and their brothers attacked the bear. They were biting him in the face and back and they chased him away.”
I’m not even going to comment on the idiocy of going into the wilderness without a gun. Besides, at this point, my BS meter is in pieces on the floor of my brain.
“That was lucky for you.” Still no one is around to save me. So I did the only thing I could before I started losing brain cells. I said, “I better let you get back to your shopping.”
“Okay, well bye.”
And off he went.
You can’t use this in a book. No one would believe it. But it did break up the evening.
Have you had encounters with the strange?