Saturday, July 9, 2011


It's raining outside like the ground told the clouds that their dog had died and the clouds burst into tears. It comes down in starts and stops and drips and drops and punishes the pavement. I watch this from the safety of a coffee shop corner booth and Scoops sits alone at a two-person table, the unoccupied chair playing host to a bulky backpack, two empty candy bar wrappers, and a piece of foil covering half of what looks like a turkey sandwich. Every ten or so minutes, he springs to his feet, closes his laptop, and briskly lunges outside, where he mills around for a minute or two before disappearing, only to reappear at his table as though he'd somehow rematerialized there.

Scoops looks about ten years younger the 32 I've heard he actually is. He's got a close-cropped afro that would surely burst into a glorious mane were it not so well-maintained, and he's reliably clad in what seems to e his uniform: black sport coat, blue collared shirt, jeans, and discordantly brown workman's boots. The man is some kind of legend, and the facts, as I understand them, are as follows:

1. He's been a journalism student at UC-Colorado Springs for upwards of ten years;

2. He writes extreme right-wing, vitriolic anti-government tracts that he places inside newspaper vending machines (the deposits of which are the brief excursions he makes from the coffee shop);

3. He supplements his modest living by distributing pieces of densely plotted, hardcore erotica (presumably different documents than the anti-government stuff, but I'd imagine some degree of overlap);

4. He is, in the words of my landlord, "a few cards short of a whole deck."

Right now, he's pacing back and forth outside of the coffee shop's glass-paneled doors, and the phone conversation he's having seems to be maddening him. I can't make out any of the words he's using, and I'm listening to the Stones on my headphones too loudly to get any sound out of it, but he looks pissed.

I was walking back from lunch with Dan yesterday, and we ran into Scoops going the other way. Scoops took out his earbuds and made eye contact. Dan dropped his eyes to the ground like cartoon anvils and gave a little wave, saying "Hey, Scoops," and we just kept walking.

"Dude's weird," Dan says.

"Heard he writes porn," I said.

"Yeah, and these crazy weird political pieces. Odd guy."


"Wouldn't advice trying to talk to him, though. You'll get caught up in logic loops and funhouse mirrors and never get out alive." Dan and I kept walking, and I turned back to see that Scoops still had his headphones removed and was waving to 95% of the people he passed.

And I think I've probably seen Scoops ten times since I moved here a week and a half ago. That's just about once a day, and my curiosity never diminishes. I want to sit this guy down, buy him a latte, and figure out just what's going on his brain. He reminds me a lot of someone I know back in Utah, what with the journalistic leanings, grasps for counter-culture, and even specific aesthetic accoutrements, like the Lando Calrissian moustache and the ever-present sport coat. But where his Orem-based counterpart is equal parts insightful and maddeningly obtuse, I have no idea about the content or quality of Scoops' character. It's deja-vu creepy to see this guy and wonder how he found me again and again, like a Mario Brothers ghost that always moves toward you the second you turn your back.

Dude lives by his own rules, though. He appears to be omnipresent in a fairly large city, and everybody knows him. He's made his own admittedly idiosyncratic mark on a place not without marks of its own, and I think there's something to be admired in that. And maybe it takes someone with dirty thoughts and bizarre political leanings to get anything done. Maybe this is the guy that's gonna change the world. And maybe that's a good thing.

I can't seem to pinpoint a larger meaning toa ny of this, either; my minimal observations and minimal-er analysis have borne no fruit. I wonder, though, if I need higher stakes to be able to have anything to say. I have no real investment in this place yet. It's not home yet, and its characters aren't yet neighbors.

There's a place for me here somewhere, I'm sure. And until I find (or construct) it, I'll just watch the strange people of this city who have found theirs and remember the ones from my hometown whose constant self-reinvention prevented their own discovery. I'll learn from their examples and synthesize a necessary presence and keep adjusting until it fits.

And, wherever you are now and wherever you end up, I'll think about you the whole time and how much you love the rain.


Lachelleandmanasseh said...

Dude's got a cool name.

Andy said...

Have you ever noticed how self-applied nicknames generally end up being unintentionally ironic?