This post is by Imtay, the sometimes silent sometimes not other writer/editor of Stop and Wander. For more info, see here.
I thought I’d go for something a little lighter this time, because:
It’s Leap Day!
That special day that comes along every four years or so; a day that causes many people to decide to do something different, something extraordinary, to simply forget all the crap that usually holds them back and leap.
Some call it Topsy Turvy Day. But we’ll withhold comment on people who say “Topsy Turvy.” Well, unless, of course, they say it on Topsy Turvy Day, which may make it reasonably cool.
Anyway, this is the kind of thing that helps me keep faith in humanity—the fact that, deep down inside, many of us are looking for an excuse to stop always living within the normal modes of behavior and be who we really want to be: a bunch of bemused, smirking goofballs, taking a leap of faith. OK, so I’m the one who likes to be a bemused, smirking goofball, but I do that anyway. But, see, the analyst side of me has to wonder why we seem to have become such robots in our daily lives and adopted society norms that we evidently find rather limiting, when we really want to break out of it and be ourselves.
I mean, really, do any of us want to be seen as one of the multitude of anonymous, blank-staring faces of normalcy?
Take elevators, for instance. Yes, ok, when I’m in an elevator with other people, I’m usually fairly quiet, stand straight and wait for the doors to open on my floor, too. But when no one else is in there, I’m a goof. I’ll do an odd sort of dance, make funny faces, talk to myself in odd accents or just think of something and break out in laughter. And, yes, I know many elevators have cameras, but I figure whoever’s watching them will get to see someone doing something other than adjusting their underwear. (OK, I’ll do that, too). I’m thinking this is why cell phones don’t work in most elevators. Oh, sure, you can give all kinds of reasons about RF signals and all, but no, it could be the fear that the people we become when we’re alone in an elevator may get leaked.
By the way, ever jumped up just as an ascending elevator began to stop?
Maybe this is also why our society has such a fascination with having sex on elevators. It’s a way to defile that otherwise infuriatingly persistent little box of normalcy.
The same holds true with a lot of places, like a lobby of an office building. Just a couple of days ago, I was walking through the one in which I work, talking to someone who always makes me smile. Now, I was probably already standing out as, among all the serious looking people scuttling about or pacing while talking on their phones, I’m smiling like a Muppet. And this person asked me to really belt out “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road,” while I was there.
I sang it, but I didn’t belt it out, although I clearly imagined my truly frightening singing voice echoing through the lobby, pulling stunned stares of disapproval towards me and, just maybe, seeing a couple of people in uniform approaching to ask me to step this way.
But at least I sang it. (And I tried to make up for it the next day).
But, would I do it today? On Leap Day? OK, probably not.
But I did see someone do something like that once, a few years ago, and the image has never left me.
On what was just another gray day, I was driving along in a parking lot and saw a moderately short, slightly plump woman pushing out a cart loaded down with bags out of a grocery store. She was probably in her mid to late 30s, had blonde, unnaturally curly hair chemically frozen into to perfect form, and she wore the corporate after-work women’s uniform: a gray business skirt & blazer with white tennis shoes. Judging by the loaded shopping cart, she was buying food for a lot of people.
I stopped the car to let her pass. She looked at me, lifted her hand and mouthed “Thank you.” She then turned her face away and fixed her gaze steadily into the parking lot. After a second, she began running, bursting into a full sprint as the shopping cart jangled and rattled in high pitched protest as she picked up speed. She then she jumped up on the back rail of the cart and rode it toward the end of the parking lot, kicking it along like a skateboard, her gray blazer fluttering behind. I didn’t begin to move the car again until she reached her minivan at the end of the parking lot, but I don’t remember anyone behind me becoming impatient. They had to be watching, too.
For me, it was one of those tiny instances of everyday heroism. No, she may not have saved anyone’s life, but sometimes just dropping a façade and being yourself can be a little heroic. And I don’t even think it was a Leap Day.
So, now I guess I have to wonder what I’ll do for Topsy Turvy Day. (Yeah, I said it). I don’t grocery shop for enough people to balance a cart with my weight; besides, that’s been done. I did kind of make up for the “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” thing (which was probably rather horrifying, truth be told). I could let someone know how I really feel about her, but I kind of already did that, too. And I’m already wearing mismatched socks.
I’ll think of something.