I firmly believe you can find weirdness anywhere. There’s no such thing as a boring day. If you haven’t seen or done something peculiar today, then it obviously happened while you weren’t paying attention. Pay attention!
The OZ team took a day trip to Plymouth and Jackson last Saturday. The itinerary: breakfast at our favorite diner, a quick stop at a cemetery or two, and some antiquing. Sounds nice, right? Oh, it was. But it was so much more than just nice….
1. Restroom Hog
Breakfast was delish. We ate and ate and ate. We relaxed and chatted and kicked back over coffee and tea. Then each of us needed to make a pit stop, of course. But wait – the restroom door was locked. Someone was in there. And in there. And in there. We relaxed and kicked back some more. A full TWENTY MINUTES went by, then a large man emerged from the potty, looking satisfied and emptified. He probably had a permanent seat ring encircling his buttocks. Who the hell spends twenty minutes in a restaurant toilet? That is not normal. Who among us would dare to be the next to use that loo? Not I. Not any of us.
2. Forever Floater
When we visited Plymouth back in July, we found a convenient public restroom located at the park on Main Street. Luckily for us, it hadn’t been bulldozed or condemned in the intervening months. Pit stop! The small brick building had two stalls, and when we stopped here in July we discovered a floater in one of the toilets. Oddly enough, it was still there on our return visit. Imagine that. The floater that wouldn’t die. Or flush. Oh, it wasn’t the same turd, you say? Can you prove it? I didn’t think so.
3. Bag Box
Humans need to go, and so do dogs. The town of Plymouth had thoughtfully provided a Fido House – a green metal poop bag dispenser – on the side wall of the restroom. It was empty. Apparently dog turds get free rein to float in Plymouth, just like the human variety.
The restroom, as I said, was located in a park. The park also included a playground, and the sidewalk outside the playground was covered with cute chalk drawings. Just to the right of a large flower, the name ERKE had been scrawled in big capital letters. So…is that pronounced “Urk” or “Urk-ee”? Is it a boy’s name or a girl’s name? What planet are we on?
5. Kompan Spica
What planet, indeed. The playground was a mystifying nightmare of torture implements. No children romped or swung while we were there, and for good reason. The play equipment was incomprehensible. The fourth member of the OZ team happens to be a kid, so she was asked to investigate and teach us how to use the strange collection of metal and plastic objects that sat forlorn and unused in the play area. The various wobbly platforms and awkward climbing walls were uncomfortable and difficult, if not impossible, to reach from the ground. Strangest of all was a crooked metal pole planted in the ground like an alien weed, with a rubberized platform near the base and a yellow chunk of plastic at the top. Trill and I took turns climbing and spinning on it but ultimately rated it a zero in play value. Later that evening, after much online searching, I discovered it was a Kompan Spica, a Danish spinning toy that encourages “experiments with movement and gravity.” I guess we didn’t move or gravitate the right way.
6. Buried in a Barbecue Pit
We made a brief stop at the Jackson City Cemetery, also called the Catholic Cemetery. Our stop was so brief, only two of us bothered to get out of the car. Lor and Trill took a drive-through tour while Wire and I made a quick scan of the graveyard on foot. It looked rather boring (which seems to be happening to us a lot lately – cemetery burnout may be imminent if we’re not careful). We discovered a few above-ground crypts made of brick. While several appeared intact right down to their embedded headstones, others had been sloppily torn apart. From a distance they looked like barbecue pits. We hoped the caskets had been disinterred and reburied elsewhere.
7. Monumental Dejå Vu
As I gazed around the cemetery, one red granite monument caught my eye. I’d never seen anything like it. A large, polished globe perched atop four scrolls that resembled animal paws. Below it, a trapezoidal chunk of granite was elaborately engraved with the names of the deceased: Margaret and George Kirkwood, who died in 1946 and 1947, respectively. The ornate style of the lettering intrigued me, as did the imposing sense of weight and volume. I took a photo to remember it. When I got home, I flipped through an album of snapshots I’d taken at cemeteries over the years. And there, in a set of photos from May of 1996, I found…Margaret and George.
8. The Grass is Grayer
Any Serbs out there in internet land? I have a question for you. Your cemetery in Jackson – why does it have no grass? Few flowers? No trees except for a handful of strategically-placed cypresses? Lor and I climbed the steep hill of the Serbian Cemetery and peered out over a patchwork quilt of cement plots. It was a hot day and the lack of greenery made the hill seem even hotter. We found some interesting headstones but the inhospitable grayness of it all discouraged exploration.
9. Knock if You’re Thirsty
We passed this door on a side street. The pink board over the window made it stand out, and the detailed carving made it interesting. But then we noticed that the doorknob was a spigot. Yes, a spigot. It had no handle so we weren’t able to test it and see if it had hot or cold water.
10. Louvre Suites
All the buildings on Jackson’s Main Street say, “I’m from the Gold Rush era!” or “I’m a late-Victorian storefront!” or some such clever, tourist-attracting statement. It makes for a pleasant atmosphere. But peer around the corner and anachronistic façades emerge. I wish I’d taken the time to get closer to the Louvre Suites. What was behind that circa-1950s alley entrance? The sign proclaiming “Louvre Club, Good Food, Fine Drinks” – was that a vintage ‘50s advertisement or a modern fake? An internet search turned up very little other than the fact that the Louvre Club was a “full blown illegal casino” that operated from 1946 to 1955.
11. Scene of the Crime
Like every small town and large city in America, Jackson’s Main Street has been hit by the recession. We passed empty storefronts on both sides of the street. As I mentioned in a previous post, I like to look in the windows of vacant stores. One store had a nice hardwood floor which was marred by a large, spiky bloodstain. Oh, I know, maybe it was furniture polish or candle wax or enamel paint. But I prefer to believe it’s a bloodstain. Humor me.
12. The Stinkeye of Love
We kept passing signs for the Amador County Museum, so of course we had to visit it. We climbed a hill and passed a locomotive parked outside a stately building – aha! This was the museum! As we crossed the lawn to the front porch we got the distinct feeling we were being watched. We turned around and saw a teenage couple glaring at us from a bench in the park-like front yard of the museum. Whoops. Sorry, lovebirds. We got to the door of the museum and found a sign indicating it was closed until further notice. Damn! Then we noticed a large brass bell hanging to the right of the door. Since the young lovers had clearly come to this spot for privacy, I decided to ring the bell and wake the dead. And did that thing ever have a LOUD clang! Satisfied I’d alerted their parents to the immoral behavior of their offspring, I turned around and, with the rest of the OZ team, walked back down the hill.
So there you have it: a dozen weird things, all in one day. And this was just an ordinary day. Imagine what happens on a crazy day.