Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Don't Be Skeered Boy.

I don't usually scare easily, but some situations arise where self-preservation causes common sense to kick in. If a raging pit bull were to lunge at me, for instance, I would haul ass outta there as fast as possible. If I were to be confronted by a very large dude sporting a Tap Out shirt and obviously high on steroids and Crown Royal, my ass would also transport itself away from there real quick. Unless I was totin' a real powerful shotgun, if I were to encounter a bear (fairly common in these parts) I would roll. These are all examples of common sense situations where actual fear is not a component, it's just called using your head. Not having your face getting messed or losing part of an arm to a hungry bear are also valid reasons.

Fear may also manifest itself in some irrational ways, many people are terrified of bees or heights for example. I myself could do without heights. I have driven over some impressive bridges and was relieved when it was over. I know that the bridge did not pick the precise moment that I drove over it to collapse, but, hey, it could happen. I ascended the freakishly tall CN Tower in Toronto, and, as the funny feeling in my bowels attested to the fact, realized that it was a dumb idea. Toronto is flat and there ain't nothing to see. A glass elevator was a nice Machiavellian touch.

The stuff that scares me in average everyday stuff. Situations that may be unpleasant, random acts of stupidity or stuff that is just plain annoying scare me. They scare not so much for the fact that they induce fear but more in the sense that the consequences can be alarming. Here's a few.

1. Scary old hippies.

As I sat in the park one warm summer day, I was approached by some random stranger who was intrigued by my bike. As is all to common in this city, he just plopped his ass down on the bench, presumptuously assuming that I was willing to have a pointless conversation. As he blathered on he fired up an unusually large joint. This dude looked like he was in his fifties and I figured that he was a hobo and was engaging me in some sort of subterfuge in order to obtain my empty beer cans. It turns out that he was employed after all in what seemed like a very good job. I gathered by his musings that he smoked a lot of pot and seemed perplexed at my repeated refusals to partake. It turns out that his job was crane operator. Those big ass 100 ton cranes. The kind you see lifted monstrous metal structures. Yep; a crane operator who smokes a lot of weed. I wouldn't want to be within five miles of any job site that this stoner yahoo was working.

2. Booze.

What can I say? I enjoy a happy libation on a regular basis. Many things in life seem to go smoother when accompanied by a nice ice-cold beer. It is an excellent social lubricant and makes for a damned good party. There can be unfortunate consequences when one overdoes it a little. Some of the dumbest things in history were probably promulgated by people that were completely hammered. I can hold my own, but sometimes strange things happen when I've had a few. One more than one occasion I was left wondering where I had acquired certain items. A good rule of thumb is to not purchase anything while under the influence, especially from crackheads, Over the years I found myself with broken CD players, really crappy bikes and even big hunks of stolen cheese. The only advice that I can give, is that when you have been drinking, the only thing you should buy is more booze.

Sometimes strange things happen all on their own as if there was some unknown quantum force emanating from the beer molecules. Recently, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I decided to go on a little booze cruise. On my way home, I stopped by a gas station and asked to use the washroom. For some inexplicable reason, the washroom key was tethered to a very long chain. I put the large chain on top of the toilet tank and it sat in one big ball. As I proceeded with the business at hand, the laws of gravity kicked and the chain suddenly interacted with gravity and started going into the bowl in a sort of unstoppable cascade effect. I stared stupidly at the chain that was sitting in the bottom of bowl and was having difficulty is assessing the situation. Luckily booze causes impulsiveness and mindless courage, so I just reached in and grabbed it. I had enough sense to wash the chain in the sink and got the hell out of of there as quickly as possible. I stopped at a nearby park for a well-deserved beer and pondered why weird shit like that happens. Then something equally weird caused further contemplation; the sun was shining bright and I was already getting a little hammered. It's a strange sensation to be sure and I thought at that moment that I knew what being a hobo was like.

3. Laundromats.

Laundromats are truly scary places. The sterile environment is reminiscent of Soviet-era design, and in certain cases, one feels as if they had indeed been relegated to Siberian work camp. Nothing can be quite as soul-crushing as spending two or three hours in such a depressing environment. Scarier still is the panoply of unsavory characters that seem to be omnipresent. The scariest weirdos that I have seen always seemed to be found at the laundromat. They sit there muttering to themselves and warily eyeball other weirdos. Others look ( and smell ) like they've been sleeping under a bridge. The most disconcerting part of it  all, is that I am washing my clothes in the same machines that  were recently washing filthy-bum rags. I'm thinking that no amount of bleach and hot water can completely eradicate the bum-cooties. This is one of the necessary evils of life for many people, but I have found a way to mitigate the unpleasantness; a little bit of booze goes a long way into taking the edge off.

4. My Computer.

Computers are scary in a much larger order of magnitude. Their incomprehensible inner workings are known to only a select few highly paid geeks and remain a complete mystery to the average greasy user. They are versatile and can do many things, but have the uncanny ability to freeze up like a stubborn mule. Like the mule no amount of coaxing, yelling or beating will have any effect. Once the anger subsides, one is left staring blankly at the frozen screen and having a feeling of helplessness. After cursing Bill Gates to hell many times over, one has to lug the big box over to one the geek wizards who will magically fix it. Then it will happen all over again in a week.

5. Electric Scooters.

If one were to take some of the laundromats weirdos and give them a job, this would be their ride of choice. I have noticed many electric scooter riders are strange. Oblivious to the fact that there is no way of looking cool on a hot pink scooter with fairings pointing in all directions, they seem to think of themselves as bad-asses. This is similar to picking a fight on the internet. They run amok on sidewalks and bike trails and creep up on people in eerie silence. This what makes them truly scary; they are dead silent. I have been startled many times as one of these contraptions sneaks up on me and rolls on by. It makes me angry and even if I wanted to punch them in the face, I can't catch up and they are long gone. They will run out of juice soon enough though, and they will have to push those unwieldy behemoths all the way home.

This is just a small cross-section of all the scary and stupid things out there. Some deserve to have an entire book devoted to them, such as all the bad drivers out there (don't get me started) or all the ugly people at nude beaches. I just try to avoid scary situations and make a concerted effort to avoid the ultimate scary situation: running out of beer.

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