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McCanless column: In praise of quirky people

I love quirky stories, and eccentric people; they make the world spin for me. Especially nice is when my readers talk to me about an idea for a column. Shows theyíre reading! Well for instance, the other night our church organist came into choir practice and asked me if I had noticed the statue of Jesus in the front of the church. Well, yeah, I mean, of course I noticed, what about it I asked.
ěIt has no hands,î she said. ěSomehow or other, the hands are gone or have broken off. ě She found this fascinating and said she thought I should write a column about it.
Other people, knowing that I write mysteries, will give me a plot line they want to see, such as the woman who told me her paper delivery person was always late, I should write a book about how everyone on the block throws something at the car as it rides down the street. ěYou know, to show their frustration, ě she said. Yes, well, I donít think I want to go there. Itís humorous, to say the least, all the ideas people can come up with that I should write about. Personally, itís my belief that everyone has a story to tell, and they should take pen to paper and write it down, not me, I have my own stories to tell.
As a writer, I do a lot of pondering about things. Have you ever driven along a busy street and seen one shoe lying in the road? Now tell me, how does a person lose one shoe, and what do they do with the mate when they discover they are missing a shoe? That sort of thing just drives me nuts! I often wonder if anyone knows the difference between locked and unlocked, or open and closed. Watch sometime, as you are parked outside an establishment that is not open; customers will come along, try to open the door, find it locked, but keep trying to open it. Then, theyíll peer inside, as if to think that if they can see someone inside, it will no longer be closed! I have often tried to push open a door that clearly says pull, so that is probably not a good illustration, but it happens a lot.
We love to go out to Dan Nicholas park, the spouse and I, and so often I find myself chiding the ducks for trying to grab all the food I buy for them. Admonishing them to be patient and share.
Well, you get the picture. One of my favorite stories about eccentrics is one about a man who spotted me walking down the street in Statesville one day and made a beeline for me. Seems he recognized me and had read a story I wrote about my dad and his love of DeSoto automobiles. In the article I had described my dadís last DeSoto, a long, chrome-embellished red job that was just about the prettiest car I had ever seen. Well, this man stood before me, thumbs hooked through his overalls, asking me where the car was,. Hee wanted to buy it if Iíd sell it to him. It doesnít exist, I explained; or rather it did, but it was long gone by the time I had written that article for some car magazine. The gentleman pondered a while, rocking back and forth on his feet, then he asked how much I wanted for it. I explained once again that it was an article about a car, but not a car in existence now. Again he thought a little while, then he told me he would give me his name and phone number. Should I decide to sell the car, I was to let him have first crack at it. Giving up, I smiled and took his number and moved on. The spouse told me if he hadnít been with me and seen for himself, he would never have believed it.
Well, as an observer of human nature, I find these episodes delightfully charming, and I thoroughly relish them. People, God bless them, it takes all kinds!
Getting back to the statue of Jesus with no hands, I told our organist I didnít think I could do anything with it. It is a little odd though, seeing Jesus with his arms outstretched with no hands, but then, he doesnít really need any.
Janet McCanless lives in Salisbury.

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