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 No Clue

Cappy Jack ©2002

     There is a reason I’m a bachelor but damned if I know. I really try to be sociable. Ask me about the weather and I’ll launch into a dissertation on butterflies. Strange attractors can hold my interest but not many people. I talk best to my machines. They always need me for something or other. I’m patient with their foibles unlike some people’s attitudes towards me. I want to be liked but I just don’t know how. That’s why I don’t go out much.

    I was delighted to be invited to a football game. I knew Ron professionally. He was an environmental engineer who could listen to me drone on about data mining with a data acquisition system without falling asleep. I met his wife, Peggy on the way to their cellar several times, long enough to say hello. Sometimes she looked away from the TV long enough to see who it was, most times not. “Wanna go Saturday?”  He asked me while I was under the influence of the strong glue we were using to fix RC model aircraft. He was trying to get me interested. I was too far gone to think it through to the jostling crowds he was asking me to deal with – I said, “Sure, why not”. 

    I knew it was a great honor to get OSU stadium tickets like ours. Peggy told me so from the front seat, swiveling her head around so many times that I started to get carsick.  I guess that’s why I draped my arm over Ron’s shoulders as we climbed the stairs. It was a bold gesture for me but I think I needed the support. We were in a crush of humanity I had nightmares over many times before and since. Accidentally bumping hips with him brought stares, which Peggy noticed from behind. “People are looking at you two.” She clearly didn’t like playing second fiddle and Ron defensively put her between us when we sat down. She took this opportunity to get to know me. “How do you like it so far?”

“Fine, fine.”

“Show some excitement, fella!” She nudged me in the ribs rather hard.

The wave of red and gray roiling around told me I was deep in Buckeye territory. The three coveted season tickets were handed down from father to son now for the third time. My place of honor must have been his grandmother’s seat. She probably knitted during the game because she couldn’t see. There was a wall of a family in front all dressed the same. The two huge boys had mullet haircuts with the same pattern of short hair as their old man’s bald patch. I only saw that when they kept lifting their caps and wiping sweat back on me. The daughter was just as imposing with wrestler’s neck muscles that don’t look good on a girl. The mother was the loud mouth. “Kick their ass!”, she shrieked, jumping up and down. Since they were equally loyal the rest of the family had to get on their feet when she did and they made a ripple in the waves of fans around us. I couldn’t see the field except for the goalposts so to keep from feeling claustrophobic I looked down to the left at the cheerleaders. Peggy saw me, “Hey, buddy. Keep your eyes on the game. I see what you’re looking at.”  The din in front of us had paused and the rabid mom in front eyed me suspiciously. Ron was wrapped up in the game that apparently was a good one. “Shhh! Shhh! Can’t you two be quiet?”  That brought more reproaching stares from all around us.

“Stop that you dirty old man.” Peggy just couldn’t stand me looking at the cheerleaders.

The crowd took a rest with an injury on the field. The stretcher was on its way and the band played. Ron and Peggy both acknowledged my presence for once. I decided to tell them a joke.

“Do you know who Ted Kazinski is?”  Lay the snare.

“Yeh. He’s that guy that mailed bombs.” Ron was going to put his foot in it.

“He was turned in by his family.” Peggy added more weight to it.

“What do the cheerleaders and the unibomber have in common?” I had them.

“I dunno” Both were mystified at the comparison.

“They both got fingered by their brother.”

     I thought they would laugh but I was mistaken like so many times before. Both had stone faces of incomprehension for a second. Ron’s initial reaction was to jerk his shoulder back like he was going to cock his arm and punch me. Peggy had her arm linked with him and held him back. At least that’s what I thought she was doing at first. She actually used it to launch her other arm in a long roundhouse aimed at the side of my head. I pulled back just in time. In that position with their arms linked, it looked like the next thing they would do was a can can, trying to kick me in the balls. I laughed out loud at the absurd image and they assumed I was laughing at them. By then I was drawing, “Hey…sit down, buddy”, from the man next to me. I had my ass poised in his face ready to flee. They both sat down and stared ahead like I didn’t exist. The game started again and my apologies and questions to them went unanswered. I even tried invading Peggy’s personal space, getting into her peripheral vision. I managed to poke the daughter in front in the ass with my head. “Hey, buddy…watch it,” came from her. “Whadd he do?”, came from the Mom.  She was the smallest, about my size, and whipped around throwing a punch at me. The crowd was becoming aware of the disturbance now. I’d had enough. I was leaving. I pushed the two sons, who were standing but not wanting to miss the game, hard enough to send them off into the crowd in front. I didn’t want to fight them too; I had my hands full with the Mom. They acted like they were in mosch pits, kicking and punching, starting the melee. I stood up and raised my arms high with my middle fingers waving with them as I forced my way to the aisle.

       With hunched shoulders, I made my way down the ramp almost reaching safety before a forbidden glass quart beer bottle, still in its paper wrapper and half full, hit me square between the shoulder blades. It slopped beer down my neck and nearly knocked the wind out of me. I hurried down the corridor with my head down. “Hey, Stanley! What are you doing here?” It was my boss with an armload of concession stuff. I didn’t answer then but he got his answer the next morning and not from me. The security responding to the fight saw me stagger away and the policeman waiting at the exit smelled the beer. “Sir, please step over here. May I see some ID.” I was not up for his nonsense but went fishing for my wallet. He poked what looked like a Star Trek stun gun at me and barked, ”Blow into this until I tell you to stop.”  I’m a clean freak and the end of that breathalyzer had teeth marks and car seat fuzz ringing it. “I will do no such thing.”  “Then you know I’ve got to charge you with public intoxication”, smug in his elocution.

   The papers the next morning named me first, blaming me for the drunken riot, citing my arrest.  Even after the blood tests came back clean the next day, I was released from jail with no apology from the cops. The damage was done; add another descriptor to my tarnished reputation. Ron would speak to me, professionally, about our work. All my questions about Peggy were met with silence.  I should have left it at that. But I sent flowers anyway. I picked a mortuary piece by mistake. They weren’t pleased and had a court order drawn, keeping me away. My boss thought that wasn’t cool at all and my arrest convinced him I was over the wall. I guess I was at that point. From this point please consider everything I say to be a defense.

    Now I’m a law abiding citizen. I’ve fought for my country, both in and out of it. I’m a sheep in wolf’s clothing, discovered late, and sporting the scars to prove it. Fighting your way to the top is not what it’s cracked up to be. Not that I ever got there but a first hand view at the few who did convinced me. Pure luck, plain and simple, charms a few of us but not many. The only luck I saw was from my own hard work. Never had time for games of chance more than once.  So I didn’t hang out in the places of gamesmanship, not even sports, anymore than the churches that housed their opposite. Tangentially, you say, but I must agree opposites don’t attract in this case. My brushes with the law have been painful, but thankfully, brief. No more than one night’s incarceration was enough to convince me to walk the straight and narrow; at least in their eyes. Thank God they didn’t have eyes in the back of their heads. I still get pinched by the midnight highway robber, traveling by car at night is risky, never dull.


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written using Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition