10 July 2007

Mystery Dude

I had a funny thing happen to me the other day. I quickly drove into town to do a few errands, one of them to look for a new chair that would be suitable for Heather to breastfeed in. Being the school holidays the traffic was busy, which meant I had to use the massive car park next to Target. Once I drove in I got an impatient driver right up behind me and when I tried to park in a spot I could see her getting agitated with me. Add to this a foggy passenger side window so I just pulled out and kept moving. She kept following without taking the park, then same thing happened with the next park I found, I quickly zoomed off and luckily got into a park smoothly before she came whizzing around the corner and drove past. I sat in the car for a minute trying not to get annoyed at her, I mean who gets mad because they go into a car park and someone in front of them gets a park, isn’t that what a car park is? I got out of the car feeling a bit frazzled and started walking slowly to the entrance hoping not to run into said driver, which didn’t work as we kind of embarrassingly walked into the shopping centre at almost the same time.

Anyway that’s not the funny thing that happened. I made my way into Target to look for this chair and like I said it was busy with lots of families with kids. I started walking to the area I thought was the furniture section, on the way I saw a person I know who works at Target folding sheets with another Target employee. I tried to make eye contact with her but to no avail, I was on a tight schedule anyway so it was probably a good thing that I didn’t stop to talk. As I rounded the corner away from them I heard the guy say, in what he thought was quiet voice,
“Did you see that guy then?”
“no, who?” she said.
“That guy with the brown hair and glasses, that just walked past…”
At this stage I stopped in my tracks and my heart started pounding, what was this guy about to say?
“I see him every where!” He exclaimed “I’ll be down the street and see him, then three hours later I’ll see him again”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I tried to edge closer behind a high shelve to listen in better but I could only hear fragments of the conversation. It was strange to hear yourself be described by a complete stranger, all of the sudden I was being thrust into the category of a wandering the streets weirdo. I myself have plenty of these kinds of people that I see frequently:
There’s the schizophrenic dishevelled looking dude who I always see wandering around Armstrong and Mair street looking cold and talking to himself.
There’s the two brothers who look like they’ve retired and now spend their time walking the streets of Ballarat.

Then last but not least there’s a couple that have taken on mythic proportions in our household and of whom we refer to as ‘The mysterious couple’. These two have been an ongoing source of fascination and humour for nearly 4 years and every time there is a sighting it’s gleefully reported to the rest of the household. It seemed like there was time there that everywhere we went, there they were, and in all different parts of town at different times. One day I even accidentally said hello to them whilst passing in the street, as I felt so familiar with them.
But now here I was a ‘mysterious dude’, what did it mean? I wasn’t sure if I wanted t hear anymore plus the dialogue was broken up and I couldn’t make sense of it. I kept on walking to where I thought the furniture department was, not sure if I should feel awkward or amused and ending up feeling a little of both. The furniture area had been moved, I asked another store employee where it was an she pointed in the direction I had come from.
I turned and braced myself for another pass by the pair, I knew that this time my friend would surely see me, I’d stop and talk and the guy might feel awkward himself that he had admitted these things about me. Sure enough as I approached, the guy saw me first and then my friend saw me. I said hello whilst feeling extremely nervous talking to her in front of this guy, I felt like I was on stage. Here I was coming to life before him, that weird guy he always see wandering around, in front of his very own eyes. We only talked for a short time, she asked about the recent arrival of our baby, I told her all the details, said goodbye and kept going on to search for the chair.
It turned out that there where no chairs, none that I could see anyway. But that wasn’t much of a surprise for shopping in Target.
I was elated at this strange experience that I’d had, I left there feeling strangely exposed, why was it that he had seen me so often? Was it that I walk into town so often, or maybe that I wear what might be considered distinctive black rimmed glasses? I also work in town and often venture around stores on lunch breaks etcetera then I must look like this constantly wandering man of mystery. What ever the case may be, this is definitely something that calls for some extra investigating.

*The picture is from one of the the original '7 Pages', #15 to be exact. It took me ages to find it searching through sketch books and old '7 Pages' templates. A bit of a trip through memory lane.


Ive said...

This post reminded me of Ghost World.

awcomix said...

I thought that while writing it too!

Ian T. said...

There's the same bunch on the train most days (and most of them fit this week's theme for Illustration Friday). The nearest I've got to your story was a little girl in the bank pointing to me and saying to her mother, "Look at the man with the funny hair!" I have red hair, but I'm used to it by now :). Their description of you is not unkind and this story must be in your next comic!

Lumpen said...

You've always been a man of mystery. Like when you made pumpkin bombs out of matchboxes. I was like, "Who is this young man?"