They Call Me Dr. Worm

I may seem sleek and suave to you, the reader on the other side of the screen, but in reality, I am just a simple chump trying not to make a moron of myself on a day-to-day basis. At this, I fail miserably.
Maybe someone can help me out with this first anecdote. I was happily shopping in Target with Justin the other day, when we passed a goth guy. Now, this is a common sight in LA and I assume plenty of other places, but this wasn’t the average goth I usually see. This goth lad was 6’5″ if he was an inch, dressed head to toe in classic black, which a t-shirt loudly proclaiming something to the effect of “CHRISTIAN LIES” or “RELIGION IS SHEEP” or “NOT ENOUGH HUGS IN CHILDHOOD, OR PERHAPS TOO MANY FROM CERTAIN MEMBERS OF CLERGY.”
At any rate, I was trying to be respectful of this person and not stare, as I try to grant everyone who scares me just a little, but I couldn’t help noticing him. His face was painted entirely white like a geisha, and he had black lipstick, black eyeliner, and probably a number of facial piercings which would prevent him from applying at such jobs as “Disneyland Team Member” and attract him to jobs such as “Hot Topic Person Looking Bored And Better Than You Behind the Counter.”
His hair was something I can only describe as flock of seagulls meets Edward Scissorhands. I would have loved to get a glimpse at what he was purchasing at Target, but it was no doubt something xXHardCoreXx like Maalox or Fabric Softener.
So clearly, I was failing at averting my eyes, since I can practically describe him for a police sketch artist, but these were FURTIVE glances from behind and far to the side. It then struck me later that…he wasn’t attacked and forced to dress like this. He sat at his house/basement/lair in front of the mirror, applying the white geisha makeup for his big trip to Target on purpose! Okay, maybe Target wasn’t his last stop, but he certainly didn’t expect NOT to be noticed. A shy person who hates attention wears, you know, bland colors and baggy clothes or something. A hat and Groucho Marx glasses. Not this.
Now, I consider myself a pretty open-minded person, and many of my friends happen to be of the black-wearing persuasion. I tried not to judge this person, but the way he was dressed sort of assaulted me into categorizing him. I’m probably the type of “square” or “sheep” or “cog” in the “machine” he’s “raging against,” so my views of him are probably just what he’d think I’d have, but come on. If I wanted to buck the system from categorizing me as the nerd that I am, I might start by throwing out the pocket protector and graphic calculator and quit starting conversations using lines from esoteric “Star Wars” fan fictions.
Was there anything else I should have thought in that situation? I suppose a truly open-minded person would have seen him as “just another guy in a store.”
My second, shorter, anecdote comes from my trip to Borders last night. A girl with a shaved head and pierced nose (septum) rang me up. No big deal. That sort of comes with the town, and I love LA especially for its diversity. Much more refreshing than the polo-wearing sycophants that work Borders in Pittsburgh. I’ll take “could take me in a fight” to “ass-kissing sycophant” any day.
We joked lightly about the stack of mystery novels I was purchasing, but she genuinely looked like she would rather work or be anywhere else in the world than there. Looking back, I realize that what she called after me was probably “Have a nice night.” But I swear to you that I heard nothing other than “Have a knife fight!”
Of course, I did my classic “burst into laughter at an inappropriate time in front of strangers” routine, and heartily wished her one too as I tried to sprint out the door.
Never boring, this town.

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