Shootin' the Breeze

by "Bummer"

bummer @ abate

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September 2015

    I went on a poker run today.

    I was on another local run today and I ran into lotsa people (and no, I didn’t literally run into anyone). Anyway, I was talking with a pair of fellow ABATE members at one of the stops, one of them a really cool older dude named George, and the other, a really cool younger dude named Jeff (he’s our county coordinator). When George mentioned that he knew someone who by coincidence had the same first and last name as Jeff, I spoke up and said that I knew someone who did too.

    It turned out that we were both thinking about the same guy who was from the neighborhood where I grew up. The freaky thing was it turns out that George, who I’ve known for the past five or ten years, also happens to be from that very same neighborhood and I didn’t even know it! In fact, I remember often feeding apples from my back yard trees to the two horses he kept in a paddock and small barn in his back yard a block away (and a few houses behind mine) and I never realized they belonged to the guy I know now.

    George is 86 years young (twenty three years older than me). He started owning scoots in 1946 and was riding years before that. Now he rides the hell out of a Harley trike since he sold the last of a long line of two wheelers when he started to have some minor health problems recently. This means that back when I was foolin’ with his horses, George was probably about 33 and I was about 10.

    I went to school with his daughter and I musta rode my American Flyer sled named “Rosebud” down the same local road as she did (the road in front of my house). I know I rode my bicycle past his house many times to go to the little “Mom and Pop” store a few blocks away to buy bread for my mom, soda-pop for me, or whatever (we didn’t call ‘em “convenient” stores back then, we called ’em “corner stores”). In fact, I was probably his paperboy though I really don’t remember him or even seeing or hearing his bike!! What a trip! Who woulda thunk that 50 years later I would often be riding with the same guy who owned those horses? Okay, now there’s this.....

    When I started 5th grade I was ten years old due to my Sept. birthday (I started school at five). In 5th grade I had a really nice, great teacher named Mr. Higgins. He was interesting and fun... great qualities for a teacher. I lost touch with him because he moved after that school year. But while he was still there, I remember him telling the class toward the end of that school-year that he was soon moving with his wife to Pennsylvania.

    Over twenty years later, I had long since moved from my parent’s house and was living in a little town called Kinsman, Ohio which is very close to the Pennsylvania state line and 40 miles to the northeast. A buddy of mine, a local dude whom I had only known for the year or so since I moved there, was buying a house from his uncle who lived just over the border and HE turned out to be that very same Mr. Higgins (who didn’t recognize me of course, but that’s okay because he turned into a grouchy old bastard). Okay, now there’s this......

    In about 1989 I was incarcerated in our tiny local two-cell jail here in Newton Falls because of an incident in a bar. I was locked up late that first night and had a very short conversation with the guy who was in the other cell. We couldn’t see each other due to the cement block wall separating us, but his voice sure sounded vaguely familiar somehow. The next morning when our cells were opened and we both had to come out to the common area (or stay in our cells all day), it turned out he was someone who (with his woman) generously shared their campsite and fire with me and my friends, complete strangers to them, at Woodstock twenty years before! He was from the Bronx, NY, spent his whole life there, and had never been to Ohio.

    Back in 1969 I spent most of a very memorable weekend with this couple (and 450,000 others) and believe me, it was definitely him. I spent the next three days in jail with him and the detailed memories we shared about specific things from our campsite proved it. Hell, he still even looked the same!

    He told me he was busted while just passing through my town on his way out West somewhere. He had gotten off the Ohio turnpike at our exit to eat a real meal at a restaurant, after which he was noticed smoking a doobie in his car by a cop. Okay, now let me ask you this.....

    What can this possibly mean?? Is our world really THAT small?

    I bet some of you have similar stories that are even stranger. But my point is that there is currently about 7 billion people on this Earth! With all those people, do we somehow just bounce around and often run into the same folks repeatedly like we were some kind of strangely magnetic billiard balls seeking out those whom we have bumped into before? Is it some kind of mysterious individual “Law of Attraction”?

    I used to go to a giant swap-meet and party every year put on by a club called the “Pack-Rats” just outside of a little town called Orville, in mid-Ohio west of Akron (the home of Smucker’s Jam and about two hours from where I live). For one crazy weekend of every year it pulled in tens of thousands of people for over a decade beginning in the late 1970’s.

    I would always end up camping right next to the same person, a great big guy named “Hoss”, year after year even though the swap was held in a 100 acre, wide-open, former cornfield with no landmarks to look for even if we HAD previously agreed to camp next to each other. We’d come without planning in advance, or even knowing after settling in that we’d be neighbors, since whoever arrived first would usually be out walking around checking out parts, babes, bikes, food, or whatever for the first few hours after they got there. The second time that happened it was strange.....but after a few more times it was freaky!

    He was from Cincinnati (located in the complete opposite corner of the state from me) and that swap was the only way I ever knew him. I wonder how he’s doing since the event was closed down due to bad behavior. We used to fit right in. My people and his people ALWAYS had a good time. But how weird is that? I mean without exaggeration there musta been 20,000 people there usually (or more)! For a while it was WAY bigger than Chillicothe. Not sure if Chillicothe was even happening then.

    It seems that as one gets older, we should know more answers to life’s questions. Sure, you might become a bit wiser about managing your affairs, about knowing what you should do under most circumstances. But to and for me it seems that the older I get, the more questions about life I have.

    Some things that used to really bother me I NOW don’t really give a flying f%$& about. I think I’ve achieved SOME sense of being able to prioritize most things, to know what’s important. But then other things I never used to really think or care about have become significant to me. Things like: fate, karma, purpose, and destiny.

    Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors, once wrote, “The purpose of life is to be the eyes, ears, and conscience of the creator of the universe...whoever or whatever that may be.” So okay, I can dig that. I may not live up to doing and being all that, but at least it clears up why we might be here....and I do agree with Vonnegut. It seems most religions agree with that too in one form or another.

    But why do things have to be so weird, so unpredictable and downright surprising? I mean, what’s it all about?

    Maybe I’ll find out some day. Until then, at least I’m finding that life is a cool kick in the pants sometimes LOL!

                        See ya next month,

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