Creative Non-Fiction ~ Rosary Beads, a Dog Collar & the Normal Girl

A Catholic Nun just tried to sell me Pittsburgh Steelers Rosary beads! How in the hell did I get to a place where that does not seem strange to me?

Just prior to this experience I was sitting in a coffeehouse up the street from this shop. There I sat, writing down my thoughts while hoping to figure things out, which by the way I figured out nothing. I had a problem that I thought I could write my way towards a solution.  This rarely works. You think writing it down would help, but it seldom works...at least for me.

Keeping a journal is one of the most abnormal things one could possible do. You hear it all the time: write it down, write it down, journaling is good for you, it's self-therapy. You want to know what it really is? It's boring! You get to re-read how boring your life is.

Even when you go through periods or events that seem of super-duper-great-importance, they're not.  So go ahead and write it all down.  I have kept journals for the past seven years; re-reading it just makes me realize what a putz I actually am.

All that I have learned for certain is that after seven years of journaling I have the penmanship of a kindergartener and the spelling skills of a third grader and not one of the those smart kids who sits at the front of the class. My spelling skills are akin to the nose-picker-smelly kid who sits in the back. (Side not from wife/editor: this is true. 100% true.)

But, you want to know what is interesting? The stuff that happens right next to you as you're writing crap down in your journal.

There I sat: black coffee, vegan brownie, moleskin notebook open, pen in hand, a book on Zen turned to page 176 on the table top...I look the part. Yet I am unable to conceive any great or sub-ok thoughts of my own to solve my problem. So I do what every other wanna-be-coffeehouse-writer does: I start glancing around the room to see what the other coffee-houser’s are up to. Maybe I can steal some inspiration?

And there he sat.

A man most likely my age or slightly older than me sits to my left. On his table is a stack of notebooks piled four high.  A large sugary coffee drink topped off with a mound of whipped cream and jetting out of the whipped cream is a red straw that just happens to match his hair color. Yep, the dude had clown red dyed spots all over his skull with small pink highlights to offset the greying hairs coming out of his temples. This dude was weird.

Dyed red hair is one thing but when you accessorize it with a dog collar, a spiked black leather dog collar in fact, that opens up a whole new can of strange. And not hipster-or-punk-just-going-through-a-phase strange, but you just know that you will see this guy's face on the evening news someday strange.  And by the way, where do you keep your dog collar when you are not wearing it?  Does it go next to your shoes or your belts? Or maybe your ties? It's something that you wear around your neck, so yeah probably ties?  Or do you take it off when you get home and toss it in the same spot that you place your keys? Chances are you just toss it on your dresser next to your phone and spare change.

And black eye liner. As if a spiked dog collar and red spotted clown hair was not enough there was his black eye liner smudged into his aging crows feet.  To finish off the look was a black punk rock t-shirt that has been washed to the point where it's almost transparent in spots.  Do not let me forget to mention that he was at least thirty pounds thinner when this t-shirt actually fit him.

To end the description I am sitting next to a man who was most likely goth-punk before the goth-punk scene actually became a scene. Today he is the last surviving component of the post-punk-goth scene that died out in the early 1980’s...truly the last of the dead cultural cache sits less than four feet from me.

Then Normal Girl comes walking in and sits down with him. What-What-What????? Goth-punk-dog-collar-boy is hanging with her? Before she sits down she kisses him on the cheek than proceeds to start reading what is written down in his notebooks.

Ok, lots of things are bugging me here. First, she is normal. Seriously, everyday normal.  Gap ad, sidekick girl on a sitcom, best friend's hot sister normal. You get what I am saying. The whole point of why the goth-punk scene even started was because these guys could not get with the normal girls. Yet here she sits re-writing all the rules of the 80’s social norms. John Hughes must be rolling over in his grave.

Second, she is laughing out loud, and I mean loudly, to what is written down in the pages of his notebook.  I never let anybody read the pages of my journal and if they did they would not be laughing.  Maybe snickering about how dreadful my writing is but other than that there would be no emotion except maybe disgust.

I pack up my stuff and head out the door.  No answer to my problem. I walk. I walk down the street in no direction, just walking around.  Christian book store...I’ll go in there.

I opened the door to a used book store merged with a flee market of Christian paraphernalia.  It's a mecca of Jesus statues in all different shapes and sizes.

A kindly Nun sits in the front corner of the shop; her only purpose seems to be greeting shoppers.  She looks at me and says “Now, there's a man who knows what he's looking for.” Me: “Sorry Sister, I have no idea.”

I browse the store for the next fifteen minutes.  I feel obligated to spend some time searching for something that may interest me. The kindly Nun seemed so sure of herself that I knew what I was looking for.

I make my way back to the front door hoping to leave unnoticed. No such luck. The Nun stops me and asked: “Did you find it?” Me: “Does anybody ever find it, Sister?” We both give a small laugh, she gets me.

“Hey Sonny”, the Nun calls out to me: “How about some Pittsburgh Steelers Rosary beads? You have to have faith in them?”  Me: “Sorry Sister, my faith is not that strong. I’ll save my prayers for other things.” She places the Rosary beads back into her pocket.