I was telling stories last night and Tom suggested I write a post and call it the nuts and bolts of my life. Good title, I thought.
It comes from a story about a character I remember from my hometown. Peculiar people were not held in such suspicion in those days. They were just allowed to do their odd things and nobody bothered them too much.
Doris wore a fur coat all summer long. She rolled her nylons around her knees and marched rapidly down the sidewalks, puffing a cigarette. She swore under her breath in a most scandalous manner and of course, this fascinated us, so we walked discreetly behind her, trying to catch every son-of-a-bitch and god-damn. She lived in a huge old house with flapping shutters and chipping paint. This is my memory, of course, and we all know it's not too reliable. I exaggerate for effect.
Mom's memory of the above story is that Doris was naked beneath the fur coat. I either never knew or had forgotten that part. Maybe she wasn't into flashing middle school kids.
Donny wore big pants with pockets. He ran a string down one leg of his pants with a magnet attached to the end. He strolled the sidewalks looking for nuts and bolts. When he spotted one, he walked over and used the magnet to pick it up and hoist it up to his pocket. I'm not sure of the logistics of getting it from the magnet to the pocket. I'm also not sure what he did with all the nuts and bolts.
Mom's correction to this story is that Donny was not picking nuts and bolts up off the street but off the lower shelves at the hardware store. He must have had quite a collection of nuts and bolts. Apparently he fixed crescent wrenches with them. Don't ask me.
August was a tiny man who wore a huge trench coat with only boxer briefs underneath it. He went into the bank on Monday and borrowed five dollars, always paying it back on Friday. I don't believe this involved any paperwork. The ladies in the bank objected to the boxer briefs but only asked that he turn them around so the fly was in the back. He also marched up and down the streets in a terrible rush, muttering and cursing.
One other character was a guy named Shorty who ran the local jewelry store. He was a tiny man who always wore his white shirt sleeves rolled up, a black vest, and a jeweler's loupe. He had a penciled in moustache...hardly any hair, just a thin line of black over his lip.
There are a few people like this in the town where I live now but I don't think they are appreciated like they were then. Odd people are mostly feared rather than tolerated. We like to hang labels on them and segregate them instead of thinking of them as interesting. Too bad for us.