Imagine walking down the street. You see something odd, or different, or perhaps just amusing. Maybe it's a girl with a crazy mohawk. An elderly person jogging. Or - even more shocking - a person traveling at a brisk rate in a wheelchair.
What would you do? Would you scream? Would you faint? Would you take pictures with your camera phone? Would you yell out to your spouse and family and everyone else in your 20-foot radius, "Look! Can you believe it? A mohawk! That old geezer can really move!! SPEEDY GONZALES!!!"
I live downtown, and there are lots of colorful characters here. Every day the same guy on the corner puts down his liquor bottle to yell to me as I pass, "I'm gonna marry you someday!" These things do not phase me.
But it positively stuns me that average, polite-seeming tourist families, who surely shy away from talking to most of the people roaming the downtown DC streets, feel compelled to yell absurd things out at me.
I have talked about this before when I discussed the "Speedy Gonzales phenomenon" in my first Wheel-World post. Well, just in case any of you suspected that I have been exaggerating, or perhaps using the art of fable to make my points, I have a third-party-verifiable account of another occurrence from this past weekend.
I was going to see a movie with one of my best college friends. He and I had just crossed the street, and we passed a tourist family who up until that point had been minding their own business and enjoying the sights. Then, the mother turned to me abruptly and screamed out, "Look--Speedy Gonzales!" She was clearly speaking to her husband and kids, but we heard her since she was standing right next to us and yelling.
My friend looked at me, his mouth gaping open. "I can't believe that just happened!"
"What? Oh, yeah. That happens all the time," I said.
Those encounters always annoy me, and I always have fantasies about yelling back at people.
In my mind:
Tourist Lady: Oh my Gosh! Look kids, SPEEDY GONZALES!
Me: Excuse me, you talking to me?
Tourist Lady: Uh, hi. I was just joking.
Me: Yes, you do look like quite a jolly woman.
Tourist Lady: Huh?
Me: And I really like your muumuu. Very stylish. Have a good one!
But instead, we just moved on, saying nothing. Nonetheless, I was seriously annoyed. How rude and uncouth! It's only a matter of time before unleash a little bit. Not to worry, I'm not talking about "going dentist" on them, just maybe a dry line or two.
So if you see me, and you just can't control the urge to call out, "Speedy Gonzales," beware. One of these days I'm going to bring it right back.