Friday, February 11, 2011

The Magnet

I wandered into the coffee shop and was three steps inside the door when a little elderly man with a blue ball cap approached and began a tale about a burglar who'd stepped on a pit bull. I listened politely to his vivid description of the injuries, asked a few questions, waited while he outlined what happened at the trial, and then escaped to the lunch counter where I wondered, "Why me?"

Some of us are loon magnets. Whether it is Grand Central Station, Times Square, or Wakiki Beach, at least one local crazy will feel compelled to tell me his theories about the latest space landings or his mistress in Baltimore. It's not that I look all that cordial. [New acquaintances have often told me of their surprise that I am actually friendly. As for size, I'm more linebacker than chess-player.] There must be a hidden signal that tells the bizarre, "This man wants to hear your story. Leave nothing out."

I'm tempted to make a pre-emptive strike. When any of these characters shuffles up, I can launch into my own strange tale before they utter a word. I'll keep babbling in various dialects until they back away. My repertoire has plenty of material. For example, there was this pit bull....

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