And then there’s this Other Guy.
He was an English chap and he did well at school and college except he turned larcenous in his freshman year and started a collection of pub signs and other signs that appealed to him. He had occasional discussions with angry bar-tenders but he seems to have got away with it. Having run out of college money in his last year, he got married to a well-paid secretary and as happens, they had a baby and just when his college years ended, he took them off to a foreign land where he had a job waiting. They had him designing things and whole plants then making him go and run them and show others how to run them. His company liked his efforts and they thought he could dumb-down and become the company sales-man in their big-city office with the entire USA as his territory. He trained his boss and made him look good and all went well. He and his wife and their two kids (now 2) had moved into their first house that they bought with a mortgage, a house improvement loan and a company loan and they lived there happily. They soon had a girl baby to go with their two boys and after living there for seven years, their kids were 11, 9 and 7 when Dad resigned and joined another company in the same kind of business that meant another move.
In this new location, he was able to drive to work in 15 minutes which was much better than the previous town that required more than an hour train ride. The whole family got involved with schools and baseball. They needed two cars just for baseball as the father drove to one team game or practice while the mother drove to another. In summer, they lived on a diet of hot dogs and snow-cones. Interspersed with all this was swimming races at their new golf club where the Dad played at week-ends. The father bought a Whamo plastic boomerang and gradually learned how to throw it. Opposite their house near the end of the street there was an empty lot with a bushy tree in the middle. Soon, Dad and both boys could throw the boomerang around that solitary tree. It involved quite a bit of tree-climbing because the tree had an affinity for boomerangs. They soon realized the need for more and better boomerangs. The father found “The Boomerang Man” in Monroe Louisiana who had started a small mail order business selling imported boomerangs and later other American craftsmen’s products. A business trip took the father close to Monroe and he decided to visit the sole source of boomerangs at that time and, on this occasion, took his wife. At about 10.00am they found the tiny shop but it was closed. A note on the door gave the proprietor’s address near-by and they went to his house and rang his bell. After quite a delay, the door opened a crack and standing there was the Boomerang Man naked in all his glory, holding an in-adequately sized towel. He said he would be at the shop in five minutes. To cut a long story short, not only did the father buy six or seven boomerangs, but the Boomerang Man insisted that they go out to the park and throw them. Our friend was impressed with the distance a professional could throw and with his catching skills. He was clearly hooked on this new toy and he threw boomerangs for the rest of his life, getting a nice collection on the way. In his office one day he was in contact with a potential customer in Australia and when he told the man that he had a boomerang collection, he promised to send an Aaboriginal one. A week or so later, when he came home from work, his wife told him that his genuine Aborigine boomerang had arrived but there was a problem with it. Slowly extracting the problem from a reluctant wife, he found that his boys had opened up the obviously shaped package and had gone out in the yard to try it. Finally, showing the father a package of brown splinters of wood, it was learned that it flew well but had hit the house. Being so old and brittle, it had been transformed into tooth-picks. On asking where the boys are, he found they had gone to a friend’s house for a hurriedly arranged sleep-over.
Another change of company caused a re-location to another city for husband, wife and two reluctant kids, the oldest having started at college. This new home was a city very close to a beach and also had a large naval port where Royal Navy ships occasionally visited. With their British back-ground, they quickly joined the local British-American Club that entertained officers and men at their club. This brought them in contact with some very interesting types. The most entertaining of most ships were the NCOs who claimed they were the ones who really ran the ships. Typically, the big ships had one or two soccer teams and they were often matched with one son’s school soccer team. At one shore party at our friend’s house, he was shown how to stick a postage stamp on a high ceiling. This was a new skill that he soon learned and demonstrated. The trick was to lick a stamp, place it sticky side up on a large coin and throw it up hard at the ceiling. On talking about this with sailors on another occasion, the trick was be-littled by the description of how to stick a wet beer label on even a very high ceiling. This is quite impressive if it is done secretly, leaving people to wonder how a Heinekin label could get there. The easy trick is to pry off a wet label, put it on a wallet and zing it upwards as hard as necessary.
Also while in this sea-side town, the family acquired another interest. They were taken by a friend to a town called Cedar Key where they have two tided a day that, on the alternate tide, leaves an entire bay of mud. They were taken through the mud by foot and learned the many different signs of the tracks of live shells in the mud. In this way on their first lesson, they got eight different shells and were encouraged to get a salt-water aquarium particularly for the small shells. They soon added oysters, sea-weed and baby hermit crabs to make an interesting show-piece with a large aquarium and bar stools for guest observers.
I think our friend, The Other Guy found some different sources of entertainment and that’s why I included him among my Characters. This is the last in this series of my scribblings and I hope you were interested in them. I would encourage you to find Characters in your own life that help make one’s days a little brighter.