My older sister once said to me, “Mar, you’re getting a little…eccentric.”
I took offense, naturally. But then I looked up the word (always a good idea) and yeah, I totally am eccentric. I like it. “Eccentric” means “away from center” and that’s me. I’m not a joiner. I’m super weird: too familiar with strangers, too bold when I ought to chill, etc. But my eccentricity leads to memorable encounters because I’m weird enough to engage them, even pursue them.
In a taxi the other day, I needed to go east and my driver turned west. “No, no,” I said, “You’re going the wrong way; I need to go east.” The driver was like, “No, this is the way.” And I was like, “No, dude. East. You’re going west.” He insisted he was right and I insisted that I was right. We actually started shouting at each other. Shouting! I was like, “Look, man, I lived over there! I’m telling you! H Street! East!” and he hollered back at me until he realized he was absolutely going in the wrong direction.
“Ha!” I shouted. “See? You see? Ooh, I am so mad at you right now! I told you, east, man!”
Then he backpedaled like crazy, saying, “Oh, I thought you meant,” yada-yada. Then we hollered at each other about that, too. Then, in the middle of shouting at each other I started laughing. It was so funny, yelling at each other like that. “We’re like family right now,” I said. “Like brother and sister at holiday time.”
The driver looked at me like, “Okay, this is a change.”
Then he laughed with me and was like, “You are right. We are family right now, brother and sister arguing.” It was a great cab ride. When I got to my destination, I smiled and patted him on the shoulder and said, “Bye, bye, my brother. I’m telling Mom I was right.”
He hooted. “God be with you, Miss,” and we were both in a great mood.
Then, the other day there were movers working from a big truck outside my building. As I turned the corner to head toward the grocery store, I heard one of the guys sing the first line of “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.”
And I was right there, right then, so I sang back — on pitch, I might add — “It’s not warm when she’s away…” *
I might as well have flashed them. They were like, “Whaaaat?!”
I smiled big, gave them a little wave and kept walking. And … Well, I might’ve given ’em a little wiggle.
The singing guy called after me, “Girl, you know the rest of the lyrics?”
“Of course!” I called back, but I kept walking. That was all really weird, right? I think so, but I can’t tell anymore.
*This encounter spurred a Bill Withers binge for the next two days. Glorious.