I got corroboration this weekend that Scary Biker Pirate Dude is not a figment of my imagination. (you guys remember him, right? The guy who is part biker, part pirate? The one who sports a big, sharpened steel hook for a left hand? Remember?) Given how striking he is as a visual I was sure that everyone would know who I meant when I mentioned him in passing.
But oh no! The fact is that nobody, NOBODY (NO-FRIGGIN-BODY!!!) I know has ever seen him. How is this possible? Many members of my family live within a reasonable walk from my house. They frequent many of the same neighborhood locations that I do. The drive many of the same streets, upon which I'm constantly seeing him stroll. But when I say "oh you know, the guy with the steel hook for a hand? You know? Right?" I mostly get back 'blink, blink, blink...' and then a quick change of topic. To anything that won't make them wonder if I'm starting to lose it. And honestly I, too, really started to worry that he was a first symptom of something I'd later be calling "the dark and scary days of me being wackadoo." (Also gonna be the title of the book, and I'm taking submissions for cover art currently.)
Ah, but what ho! Yes, people, I got me some corrobo-rockin'-ration!
Here's the scene: I'm standing in the self-check aisle at my neighborhood grocery store. I'm waiting for all of these people who, for some reason, decided to do their own checking-out, even though to do so apparently requires them to examine EVERY SINGLE INCH of each bit of packaging. I guess they're looking for the magical barcode, but it's all I can do to not scream "just swish it, people! Swish it over the reader! It will find the code, it always does! Swish, damn you all, SWISH!!!!" I'm standing there reminding myself that if I did that, and then mentioned the SBPD I've been seeing wandering the streets, that there would be a snappy new white jacket in my future, with bonus crotch straps and everything.
And then I look up and Holy Crap, my hallucination is standing right there! Hook dude! Right there! Getting change! Hook dude needs change, people! Only non-figments need change, right? If you're imaginary what would you need $3 worth of quarters for? To do your imaginary laundry?
I'm so struck by having my hallucination in such a very pedestrian setting that I have to be nudged by the folks behind me when a space cleared up. Which is very not me. I'm a nudger, not a nudgee. But I'm absolutely fascinated by this incredibly mundane transaction taking place before me. "Why does he need change?" I'm wondering. "What pocket will he put the change into? Does he ever use the left pocket for anything? I wonder if there's a hole in the left pocket from one time he forgot and tried to put something in there?" Never has anyone been so transfixed by one person handing another person a small smattering of silver coinage. Never.
I step up and do my swishing (and never once search for the barcode, because for the love of God people it is magic and will beep! Just swish and trust!) and bagging and paying and try really hard to not stare at the last few minutes of the 1-act play I am calling "hook dude gets change on a Saturday." Staring is pretty tricky anyway, since it's all happening almost exactly behind me. But once the machine is munching up my cash and I can casually peek around hook dude and his change have disappeared.
I can't just leave it at that, so as I'm stepping out I stop and say to sassy check-out lady (my favorite one -- she totally agrees with me about the faith-based swishing) "So, you saw him too, right?"
"What? Saw who?"
"The guy w/ the hook? Hook dude? Scary Biker Pirate Dude? You saw him, right?"
"Oh sure, he comes in here to shop all the time!"
...and so now here is the visual that plagues my mind: Scary Biker Pirate Dude, wandering the aisles of Groceries-R-Us, a basket hanging from his hook as he decides between lilac or mountain breeze scents for his dryer sheets.
It's totally ruined him for me.