Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hippies and Eskimos

It was just after midnight. My mother's first birthday since her murder had just passed. I went out into the cold and rain to run an errand. It had recently been hard to move for any reason at all. Any sense of purpose or passion had drained away months ago. However, hunger still seemed to be a pretty good motivator. I had no money other than the old check in my jacket pocket that I kept forgetting to deposit; that's what led me to the grocery store's ATM.

The ATM was on my right as I walked in the exit. The entrance is closed at that time of night. On my left was a computer station open to all who wish to submit an employment application for the grocery store, and as such goes mostly unused. That night there was a young man declaring his desire to move food. He was perhaps twenty years old. His hair was brown, long, and stringy. His goatee was scraggly. His T-shirt was faded. His jeans were ripped. His sneakers were green and well-worn. On his head sat a pair of enormous, old-fashioned, 80s-style black headphones.

His body jerked along with whatever music he was listening to.

As I began my deposit, the ambient noise of the universe faded away and I heard him quite clearly singing along to his music. I couldn't bring myself to move as my brain processed what it was hearing. This man was singing out loud, off key, word for word the Corky and the Juice Pigs song "Eskimo."

So, in case you've never heard the song and can't spend three minutes watching pure happiness, the chorus laments the fact that the singer is the only gay Eskimo in his tribe. This song, though delightful, is twenty years old. I don't think anyone's cared about it in fifteen or so.

But there he was.

In the middle of a night made cold by wind and melancholy was a single dirty hippie badly singing a song as old as he was to the entire checkout about being lonesome homosexual Inuit. I remained in front of the ATM long after I had finished my transaction, transfixed by the sublime absurdity of the moment.

The song ended.

He looked off at the wall behind the monitor and paused. After a moment of reflection he mused out loud to himself "Huh. That song's pretty gay."

I hastened to the back of the store, where they no longer feel it necessary to light the dairy products at 1:00am, and sat by the yogurt, and laughed. And wept. But mostly laughed.

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