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2001-11-14 - 3:06 p.m.

Sometimes strange things happen.

* * * * *

There’s a rooster in the lot across from Breed Hardware. I saw him on Sunday morning, on my way to Texas French Bread for a latte (incidentally, how have I not ever had a latte before now? I’ve never dreamt a cup could hold such caffeinated goodness, and I want to have one every day, for the rest of my life), and the streets were deserted. I thought I was hallucinating. But he was still there on my way back home, strutting around in circles, pecking at the ground. I looked up the street one way, and then the other. No one was around. I kept walking.

I mean, what could I have done, really? Where would I have put a rooster? How would I have even carried it?

I suppose I’m a little embarrassed that I am the type of person to leave a helpless rooster in a parking lot. I just hoped he didn’t have a reason to cross the road.

That night, on my way to the convenience store for a Coke (somehow, it’s okay that I drink too much caffeine, as long as I have to leave the house in order to get it), I passed the lot again. The rooster was still there, happily pecking his way around the lot. I approached him, but he wouldn’t let me get near him. I walked home.

(A neighbor told me the rooster has been there for a week, and is being fed, and seems happy, and I was relieved that this was not my problem. Also, that I am not seeing things.)

* * * * *

I went to Ruta Maya last Sunday, because a musician I had seen at an open mike was playing. John showed up, and he read while I tapped away at my laptop, eyeing the guitarist on stage, at his long arms wrapped around the guitar, and the way his right hand both strummed the guitar and played drums on it at the same time. When he was done, another group started setting up on stage, a man and a woman. They wore baggy pants, suspenders, and bowties. They wore abnormally large shoes. They had props.

They were mimes.

I suppose John and I should have left right then and there, but we were both still absorbed in our various activities. Then the show began, and we were stuck. One of the mimes came up to us right away; maybe she noticed us deliberately not making eye contact? She sat at our table, and propped her legs up on John. John grinned affably. I tried to ignore her. Finally, she wandered off. She harassed a few other customers, and then they began their vaudeville act. Juggling. Stupid tricks. Lots of falling down. I suppose vaudeville has its place in the history of comedy, but that’s probably where it belongs. In the past.

I wanted to leave. Right away. I didn’t know it until that day, but one of my biggest fears in the world is being dragged up on stage by a mime. I waited for John, notorious for leaving social situations, to make the first move. He was too busy avoiding eye contact with the mimes. Finally, I whispered to him.

“John, we have to go.”

“We can’t leave now. They’re right in the middle of the act.”

“I don’t think I can stay any longer.”

A few more minutes passed, and they actually did grab an audience member and brought him onto stage. My panic intensified.

“John, I’m leaving now.”

Less than a minute passed before he met me outside. We breathed a sigh of relief.

"I was worried that if we tried to leave, they'd drag us into the act somehow,” John said. “Then I realized, they're mimes. What are they going to do? Call out to us? Heckle us? Once we turned our backs to them, we were home free."

* * * * *

When Joanna and I were at Spider House, working on NaNoWriMo, we discussed the test that people use to determine whether or not someone can be a friend. Someone she knows tells the same joke to everyone that she meets. If they laugh, then she knows they can be friends.

She can quote “Kicking and Screaming.” And she doesn’t think Ira Glass is annoying. And she’s read Open Letters. And she did the Work in Britain program.

Nothing like using the Internet to reassure yourself that there are people just like you out there.

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