Only Being Friendly

It was the last day of the month of November. Which is also known as the month of Movember (Yes this post is a bit late). I had been attempting to grow a predatory moustache and failing miserably. Nonetheless, I had grown a barely visible Ginger horseshoe tosh. (See earlier post entitled “Looking Like A Gimp For Charity”)

Furthermore, I had been dared to dress up like one of the village people in order to gain more money for the charity of my choice. I chose the cowboy. Mainly because I already had a hat, a checked shirt and pair of jeans. I had bought myself a neckerchief and a friend at work had leant me her husband’s cowboy boots. I looked the part if a little out of place.

I was on the late shift at work meaning I was going to pretty much enter a full office in this attire and no doubt be very embarrassed and laughed at by everyone. Earlier that morning I had sat on the edge of my bed in somewhat of an inner turmoil. The younger part of me saying, “Go on, it’ll be fun. Have a laugh about it!” But the older part of me was saying, “Have you no self respect? What are you doing?” But I was committed and I had made a promise and I said to myself as I had said to the lovely Mrs Grump every time I caught her glance at my tosh with disdain, “It’s for charity!”

But this is not about the fun of wearing fancy dress. This post is about some unwarranted negativity I received on the way into work.

I was putting the cowboy boots on in my car after I parked in a street just around the corner from the building I work in. There was a woman standing outside her house a little down the road from where I was parked. She looked like she was waiting for someone. I was familiar with this woman. She is very territorial. I have previously seen her come running out of her house in a panic to see how close I had parked to her car. She’s about 60 and views my colleagues and I with contempt because we use that road to park our cars during office hours. There is nowhere else but still how dare us. We pay our road tax, we don’t block anyone in, we are only there when everyone else is at work, but to this lady, we are the epitome of evil. We may as well have kicked her dog and taken a big shit in her bed.

But it’s ok, I’m thinking. I’m parked further down the road and besides, I’m dressed like an idiot. She’ll see the funny side. I will melt the ice queen!

She is joined by her neighbour. Another elderly lady with huge glasses who appears very chatty. They start a conversation. Ideally I would like them to disappear so I can quickly walk down the road and scurry into the building. But they weren’t going anywhere.

30 seconds later there’s a solitary figure bounding towards them. Long, meaningful strides from a 6 foot tall stranger (thanks to the heels of the boots) with a cowboy hat, a red neckerchief and a pretty impressive (in a kind of pathetic way) horseshoe moustache.

Both ladies look up at me and although they didn’t say it I could see they were thinking ‘What the f***?’ I felt I had to say something. I tip my hat and say….”Howdy ladies.” I didn’t even try to sound American. It was by all accounts, an English, Brummie sounding cowboy.

The neighbour was in awe through her thick triple glazed glasses. Her eyes that were already magnified to the size of saucers went even wider at the sight of the cowboy walking past. She laughed and we had a little banter. Despite the false bravado, I felt somewhat embarrassed and so I immediately felt I had to explain that this was not my normal attire but something I was doing for charity. That in itself, the fact that I awkwardly felt the need to explain myself was a bit embarrassing. What’s not to feel comfortable about being dressed like a cowboy on the outskirts of Birmingham?

But the ice queen, nothing. She just gave me a look that could curdle milk. A gaze that looked like she really wanted to set fire to me. Clearly I had not only kicked her dog and curled one out in her bed, I must have been a terrible drugged up alcoholic father who abandoned my illegitimate child at a crocodile sanctuary after selling my Grandmother to the Russian Mafia in exchange for half a can of warm lager and a sherbet dip. Even as I walked away she continued to look at me, over her shoulder, with that evil gaze. She resembled a bulldog that had just licked piss off a nettle. It was as if she was studying me so she could make a doll for some ritual from the dark arts!

But why? I was dressed like a cowboy. Not Hitler, not Bin Laden and not Jimmy Saville. What had I done to deserve such negative vibes?

I have pondered the thought of why she was like this to me. I have come up with the following reasons:

1) Perhaps she has a general disdain for cowboys. It could have been anyone dressed as a cowboy, the reaction would have been the same. If she walks into a room and John Wayne or Clint Eastwood are on the tv, she has to leave the room instantly.

2) Perhaps I look like a cowboy she had a pretty bad experience with once. But that said he would have to have had a pretty poor moustache and walk stupidly because of the boots. However, I am aware that there are line dancing classes in the area.

3) Perhaps I do resemble a cowboy who did in fact kick her dog or leave a warm steamy brown present in her bed.

4) Perhaps she can’t help looking like that. Once she took a bite of something pretty sour and just at that point, the wind changed direction.

5) She may have been sucking on a sour lemon drop sweet and so couldn’t help looking like that.

6) Perhaps she is just a moody arsehole.

I have contemplated the above 6 points and I’m inclined to go with option 6 although I think option 3 is also possible.

I may be grumpy, but I’m not rude to people. I’m used to the fact that although the world is full of all kinds of people making it a vibrant interesting place, despite the good and friendly ones among us, there are some who are just arseholes.

I’m old enough to shrug my shoulders and not let it bother me. But what I will say is that if the shit goes down and that lady is being terrorized in Dudley town centre by some Apache, who is it that she’ll want to come to her rescue? Not the traffic warden, not the community support officer, yes, it will be the police. But perhaps a cowboy second!

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