Here, Have an Open Thread.

Because I’ll be wandering around NYC today and won’t get back here until evening.

Topic suggestion: The damnedest thing you ever did see — tell us about it.

72 Comments on “Here, Have an Open Thread.”

  1. A man in front of the Daley Plaza building in Chicago with a sign that said “FBI stop raping my wife, FBI = Rape Headquarters”

  2. Not damndest, just amusing: A guy in a Santa suit at a pay phone in a Chicago Metra station, with body language that said, “I’m talking to my bookie.” Santa Claus, taking the points in the Bears game, I’m sure.

  3. While I was a stage hand at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival I worked on the street patrol, what we called Robo-Cop. Our job was to put up street barriers and tell people they couldn’t drive by the out door theater during a show (stop or I’ll say stop again!). One night putting up those barriers I heard a loud yapping and a fairly large deer went bounding across the street. A moment later a dachshund trailing it’s leash behind went tearing across the street in pursuit. It was inspiring.

  4. I think I once was the damndest thing that some strangers saw.

    I was shopping with my wife, and found an open chair in the window of the clothes shop. Since I was tired, I sat down reading quietly in the shop window. Passersby would stop and stare, trying to figure out if I was a mannequin or not. When I smiled at them, they would jump and hurry away. It got to be a lot of fun, seeing how many of them I could fool.

  5. A guy wearing dark clothing, bicycling hands-free the wrong way down a one-way street in Somerville, MA at night, with no helmet or other protective gear.

    On a cellphone.

    I kid thee not.

  6. Two sights from my second trip to England:

    -driving in Hadrian’s Wall country, we were on a road that followed a ridge and looked out over a valley. Looked out the side window and saw a fighter jet at eye level… Pilot nodded and passed. Damnedest thing…

    -and… two pigs copulating beneath a sign that said “Put some British pork on your fork.”

  7. Having once been owned by dachsunds, I can tell you that (a) they have the courage and stamina to chase anything, no problem if the chasee is larger and (b) they are wicked damn fast. Our last dachsund Nikki once got out without a leash and the only reason I caught up to her was that she’d hurled herself over a low hedge… and splashed down in a wading pool. As a dog who hated to get wet, she just sat there and sulked until I showed up and carried her home.

    One time I was driving to work along 28th Street in Grand Rapids and in the oncoming traffic saw, not one but TWO Oscar Mayer Weinermobiles side-by-side. Were they dragracing? I’m not sure I’ll ever know.

    Dr. Phil

  8. Another cell phone wonder:

    My wife and went bowling one night, and our lane was next to a lane of teenagers. Now, these kids had about as much bowling ability as my wife and I (that is, none), but they were hampered all the more by their inability to stop talking on their cell phones when they actually went to project the ball at the pins. They would stride up to the line, chattering away, and wantonly fling the ball down the lane.

    Sorry, I have to go yell at some kids to get off my lawn now.

  9. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.

    Just kidding. One of the craziest things I ever saw was in Moscow. They have Lenin’s tomb, right in Red Square, eh? And you can view the body. It is this creepy dark place, with soldiers making sure you keep walking through.

    And oh yeah, THERE’S A DEAD GUY.

  10. In my old apartment, I had a squirrel fall through the attic access panel in my ceiling and land on the floor in front of me as I was on the toilet reading the paper. For a moment, we just sort of looked at each other as if to say “Dude! This is messed up.”

    However, the damnedest thing was when he leapt into my bathtub. I don’t think you will laugh at anything else once you see a terrified squirrel scramble around within the depths of a clawfoot tub. The poor little guy was just spinning his wheels.

  11. I’m sure i saw it, but was it really there.

    Whilst cycling through India I saw a wide variety of bullock style carts pulled by more than just bulls: small ones pulled by ponies, donkeys, mules, and asses; larger ones pulled by horses; larger still pulled by oxen, buffaloes (and bulls of course); a quanta larger pulled by camels (they’re taller not sure if stronger). But i swear, the largest one i saw was pulled by a giraffe! I thought to myself, “did a giraffe just go by?” I was sure i was hallucinating, so i didn’t turn around to investigate. Now I wish I had, because I think i may not have been imagining it due to being tired. I’ll never know if it was real.

  12. The fighter jet at eye-level reminds me of the time I took the high road, US-41, from Laurium MI to Houghton, and while taking the winding steep side road down towards the Portage Lake lift bridge, found myself looking at the TOP of a B-52 bomber. Dollar Bay MI was having like its sequicentenial parade, which is why I’d taken US-41 and not M-26, and one of the town’s sons was a navigator on a B-52 crew at K.I. Sawyer AFB near Marquette. So unbeknownst to the citizenry, this B-52 turned one of their low-level terrain following training runs into a timed run to join the tail end of the parade… I saw them as they were swooping down to their planned 150 to 200 foot altitude to buzz the town. Having had a B-52 in terrain following mode blow overhead on a remote stretch of US-141 once, I’m sure it created quite a stir! Moose and deer startling me I’m expecting. But a Stratofortress? (GRIN)

    Dr. Phil

  13. Actually, I’ve looked up into a tornado funnel cloud, it was about 200 yards off the ground and I had gone out of the building to see what the racket was all about (saturday in college, I had th eart building to myself). I had to put my full weight into the door to get it to open and it was just passing over me. One of those moments that you aren’t scared until it was over.

  14. Elephants walking down Memorial Drive (well, Edwin C. Land Blvd) in Cambridge. Apparently they were commuting home from their day job as circus elephants at the Fleet Center.

    Also, last time I was in Chicago I saw the guy Tanya mentions in the first comment.

  15. Walking up the Acropolis, toward the immortal Grecian temple to Athena one must first pass a road sign that reads NO CAMPING. In English. —->

    Also, when drunk college kids crashed a hot air balloon into my yard. They continued to hopskotch across town from one street to the next, never clearing a rooftop by more than fifteen feet.—->

    Nah. The damndest thing I’ve ever seen was on my quest to knock off Dodger Stadium from the List of MLB Parks I Haven’t Seen. The home team hit 4 home runs in seven pitches, two against a hall of fame closer, to tie a game with playoff implications in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was a religious experience.

  16. The first thing that comes to mind is the 30-odd-piece marching band that went by my hostel window at 1am in Florence, Italy.

    When I looked outside, I saw they weren’t in any kind of uniform, walking in time with the music, or leading any sort of parade–it just looked as if a bunch of people at a bar all happened to have brass instruments with them and one person said “Let’s play some Souza!”

  17. The damnedest I ever did see was a few years ago, when I was driving on I-94 during rush hour towards downtown Milwaukee. The freeway goes past this posh golf course/country club thing in Brookfield (a suburb), and I saw a deer race across the green and dash onto the freeway.

    It actually got across six lanes of rush hour traffic without getting pulped or causing an accident. Freaking weird, man!

  18. The damnedest thing I ever did see? Funny you should ask.

    Just yesterday, I’m browsing through Mactavish’s fave Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Center and what appears before my eyes?
    This guy is standing in the aisle confronting a bunch of the store’s employees. Screaming like a girl and gesticulating wildly with a copy of The Android’s Dream in his hand.

    “Pratchett DOES NOT need a full shelf”, he yells.

    The manager says something quietly with calming gestures.

    The madman continues, “The hell with alphabetical order. This book goes at eye level with the cover facing out.”

    And this wasn’t even the weird part. In his other hand, he had a cat carrier with a slab of unsliced bacon in it.

    Oh, the things you see in New York.

  19. You know that group dynamics schtick where everyone circles up, puts their hand in the center, and grabs someone else’s hand, then tries to unravel the knot?

    Saw that with:
    -15+ people
    -in a hot springs
    -at Boy Scout camp

  20. In the Gare de Lyon in Paris I saw a rat riding on the head of a Rottweiller. I had to wonder, who’s the boss?

    Jill:A guy wearing dark clothing, bicycling hands-free the wrong way down a one-way street in Somerville, MA at night, with no helmet or other protective gear.

    On a cellphone.

    That sounds weird, until you mentioned Somerville and I thought “ah, figures.”

    Dan, you almost had a coffee–>nose–>keyboard situation here. So close.

  21. damndest or funniest…you decide…

    The family cat laying low in the backyard, swiping at a low flying bird, the bird falling like a downed WWII bomber, my mom running out the back door to get him to release the bird from his mouth by pinching his nose shut.

    The bird lived…

  22. This is a little involved but it is the damdest thing I’ve ever seen in person. Back in Oct. of 2001, me and my brother were returning to Arizona from Utah via Valley of the Gods/Monument Valley from the back entrance of the Natural Bridge National Park. This requires that you pick your way down this twisty lane-and-a-half dirt road from a plateau to the valley floor. Well, having pulled over to admire the view, we noticed these three semi trucks making their way along the valley floor and I asked my brother whether there was another exit from the valley other than the semi-improved goat track we were on (my brother having gone this way on two previous vacations) and he said no. This is with a Utah DOT crew working on the road on the side of this virtual cliff. To cut to the chase, the idiots in these three trucks managed to pick their way up the gravel track, get past the road crew, and claw their way to the top. When they passed our position, this old Navajo man (who I had waved over to warn about the apparent incipient disaster) exclaimed that he had just bought fodder for his dude ranch from these guys the previous day; they being farmers who were dodging the weight scales on the main drag. This is my quintesential “Western” moment.

  23. I was a paramedic, on an emergency call. Woman in labor. She gave birth and everything was fine. I was taking my time getting the baby checked out and cleaned off. The woman then yells “I think the other one is coming!”

    First time in the 20 minutes we had been there that anyone had mentioned she was having twins.

    (everything turned out great, to this day I am the only paramedic at that company who ever delivered both of a set of twins.)

  24. There are so many. But reminded by Kevin’s OSF story, I was an assistant stage manager on a production of “Damn Yankees,” in a large indoor theatre. (A musical about a guy who makes a deal with a guy named Applegate, who is the Devil.) One night, in the middle of Applegate’s aria, a small black cat emerged from stage right, ran all the way across the stage, and vanished off stage left. No one ever saw it again.

    At the same college, I worked on a very tiny production of Maria Irene Fornes’ “Mud.” The stage was indoors, but the prop table was outdoors. Among my duties was creating the noise of vomiting by pouring a can of soup into a pan of water. The first night I opened the soup in advance. Then, halfway through Act I, I heard a lapping noise. A raccoon had climbed onto the prop table and was drinking the soup.

    I shooed it away, but the next night six raccoons appeared and politely queued up for a crack at the soup. That would be the “damndest thing” part.

    Also, during that same production, I was in the green room mixing up a large vat of stage blood. Then I heard a familiar voice saying, “Someone stole my pants.”

    I looked over, and Spalding Gray (who was performing in a different theatre in the same complex) was on the pay phone, in a dress shirt and no pants. “Right out of the dressing room,” he said mournfully. “No, not the shirt. Just my pants.”

  25. I was in Mexico, and I saw a cardboard cut-out of an army man holding a stopsign. The army man was an amputee. It was clearly purposely.

  26. I have absolutely nothing to add to this thread, but oh my, thank you for a day of giggling at work. Luckily, my officemate has already left for the weekend

  27. On my 8th grade field trip I saw Weird Al Yankovic at the Lincoln Memorial. Two of my idols in the same place at the same time. It was the damnedest thing.

  28. I once worked at a grocery store in Nebraska, and all of the sudden one day a man (I’m guessing?) dressed in a gorilla suit came running in with two guys carrying what looked to be sophisticated camera and sound equipment running behind him filming.

    He grabbed a cart and started violently sweeping groceries from shelves into his basket, knocking huge rows of things onto the floor in the process. Our manager, a rather sizable and not so graceful man, went running after him yelling “Stop! Gorilla! You can’t do this in here!” After just a few minutes, Gorilla and company ran out of the store, leaving the grocery cart behind at the last minute and waving as they left. I would have thought it was for “Jackass” or “Punked” or something, but this was early nineties in Nebraska…so who knows?

    I’m pretty sure that my family and I have been the damnedest thing anyone ever saw in the grocery store at times. Blind mom, quadriplegic dad, and twins get attention. Especially when we have certain ocassional incidences like when a certain twin gets the scarf of his stuffed snowman stuck in his dad’s wheelchair, necessitating his mom to put down the grocery basket mid-isle and undo said snowman from being caught on dad’s artificial leg by having to put my hand all the way up his pantleg into his thigh as kid screams “Mama! Snowman in Daddy’s Leg!” repeatedly. They love us in that store.

  29. This happened at my church in 1998. First sunday of a new minister.

    It really starts in terms of context. I’m heading to church, wanting to get there early because I’m teaching. So I’m detoured. There are cones blocking off one of the lanes and signs for the Dannon Duathalon. Eventually I’m shunted off down a side street , and before that I pass a bunch of runners, and elsewhere I see people on bicycles….

    OK, so far so good. As I come around the long way, I see that they have one of those big blow up things at the hotel across Naperville Rd (two lanes each way, plus both right and left turn lanes) from the church, (we’re on a little side street that runs parallel to the bigh busy highway) in the shape of a yogurt container (light yogurt, which seems appropriate for a balloon…).

    During the service one can hear faint loudspeakers in the distance, not clearly enough to hear what is being said, but OK…

    (I taught Sunday school first service and went to second.)

    So it’s after service and we’re down in the foyer and a couple of us see the yogurt balloon over just in view, and people are staring and it is heading our way. (It had gotten windy prior to what was a late afternoon shower). It takes a moment or two to realize that it is moving at a fair clip, and appears to be unattended. It rolls along, (some of the time on its side and some of the time end over end) It turned out there was one poor hotel guy pursuing it, since they had no particular responsibility for it . . . and he had followed it and had had to come around via the road on foot. As it started rolling across the church cars parked on the far side of our street and then across the ones right in front of church, (including mine and Religious Education director’s, but it wasn’t having any and it starts heading over the one year old pear tree the children planted and up onto the roof.

    At this point people in the social hall are starting to notice that there is a yogurt container (a very *large* yogurt container) attacking the church. I stop watching and dash into the social hall and yell that we need about ten strong people to come lay a hand on this runaway balloon. (All of this must have taken about 45 seconds…)

    This had mixed results, because practically everyone promptly starts trooping out, including all the little kids, and this thing is not under control, partly because the mooring ropes are all tangled, and not all of them are in reach, and we’re trying to haul it off the roof. So a bunch of us TRY to chase little kids back and get people to back off and somebody determines that the Holiday Inn guy is sort of responsible for it but really totally clueless.

    He was pretty young, and his golf shirt/uniform looked like he was a bellman or something. I have this vision of someone saying to him “Follow that balloon.”

    In the mean time two race volunteers have also arrived and they are also dithering, because they too have no clue.

    Finally some of our folks locate some of its zippers and unzip them to start letting air out and it has been tethered to one stake that we were able to free and to the light in the little planting with the rock. A bunch of guys are trying to keep it from taking off again with limited success.

    As we got it partly deflated, everyone joined in in subduing the thing. Little kids were leaping into the middle of it to drive the air out. Anybody who has ever seen the Woody Allen movie “Everything you ever wanted to know about sex is making obscure references to that (the breast, and “they travel in pairs”) and all the kids who have never seen the movie are asking what is so funny, and of course none of the adults will explain.

    Finally the event people arrive and they are between disgusted that the hotel didn’t call sooner and faster, and some concern for their balloon, which is not theirs, but Dannon’s, and concern as to whether there had been any damage (the pear tree had some broken branches. But even though the thing was on the power lines and a dead tree briefly, those did not appear to be damaged, nor did the roof. They are also on their cell phones to the rent a truck and are attempting to further subdue the balloon, since obviously we didn’t get it deflated & folded up in a way that it would fit in its truck…

    After they arrive the cops arrive and are looking very puzzled. (I can’t imagine how this thing crossed Naperville Road unattended without causing at least one wreck… and can you imagine calling it in or trying to write the accident report if there were an accident. “Well, officer there was a 35 foot high yogurt crossing the road….”)

    To top this off, the is the first Sunday preaching for our new interim minister. She’s had two memorial services (one for a suicide of a beloved congregation member with lupus) and had participated in our traditional ingathering although that was a Sunday Services service. But this was the first service in which she was preaching and people are standing around doing the “so nice to have you here” and all of a sudden she’s deserted as people dash out to wrestle with a giant yogurt.

  30. Nathan: Dear god, man, I hope you pepper-sprayed him and saved my store from ruin.

    In 1987, I had top-side watch off the coast of Cuba and saw a periscope trailing us off the starboard stern. We called away general quarters and within an hour the P-3s flew in and chased that russkie bastard back to the Black Sea.

    Oh, and I saw a guy put a baby’s head in his mouth once.

  31. Back in college I attended a Catholic church where, during a homily, the deacon said “We don’t know when the end comes. It could be a thousand years, or next year, or tomorrow, or right now.” And just after he said “now” the power went out. For about 5 seconds there was dead silence. Then the nervous laughter started and about 20 seconds later the power came back on. If it weren’t for the look of absolute shock on the deacon’s face, I would suspect that he had someone standing by the breaker box.

  32. Some friends used to have an awesome photo they’d stopped to take while driving: several police cars pulled over on the grassy shoulder of the road, the officers out of and in front of their cars and standing over a (possibly dead) turtle. I’m not sure what they pulled it over for, but it couldn’t have been going that fast.

  33. Drunk in forest trying to have sex with tree, making use of a large knothole in the trunk.

  34. Speaking of squirrels,..

    One morning, my sister got up to take a shower before school. She was in the bathroom for only about five minutes before she gave a piercing shriek and tore across the hallway stark naked.

    She had gone in, undressed for the shower, and sat down on the toilet still half asleep…. and something in the toilet tickled her butt!

    After she dressed and calmed down, we went in to see what had happened. A flying squirrel had fallen into the toilet during the night, and was swimming around in circles, caught there. Its tail had brushed butt her when she sat down.

    We opened the window and dropped the end of an old towel into the toilet and let the flying squirrel climb out onto the sill. It sat on the window sill for a couple of minutes, cleaning itself off. Then it silently launched itself out the window and we never saw it again.

  35. Jon, I first read “Drunk” as an adjective and not a noun and was thinking “Well, what did you see while drunk with the tree.

  36. The first dive of the morning off Santa Barbara island, I had just entered the water and all I can see through my face mask as I work the short way to the surface is the millions of bubbles created from my jump off the boat.

    The bubbles clear and I am literally face mask to face with a sea lion. His snout was less than an inch from my face mask. We looked eye to eye for one startling minute and then he was off like a shot.

  37. Well, since you are in New York, I’ll mention the darndest thing I saw in New York. A jumbo jet flew past my window so close I could count the rivets.

    For more details, see my blog, “Going Downtown”.

  38. Saw this just the other day…

    A new Mercedes Benz SUV with a “Don’t let the car fool you, my reward is in Heaven” bumpersticker.

  39. CJ, your sister experienced what would have to be my personal worst nightmare…..shivers.

    Military planes startling, stories of: My Dad in the late 60’s had a Mooney airplane (four seater). He was just a guy from the Maritimes, but he loved to fly down to Florida. Once while flying back to dry land after a pleasure flight off the coast, two F4 Phantoms appeared one for each side of that little Mooney. Since my father was a sunny day VFR pilot only, in unfamiliar airspace, he was at a lower altitude than usual. For him naive; very suspicious for the Air Force dudes. The damndest thing part comes in with the fact that it seemed to him after the initial shock of their arrival the F4s could barely fly slow enough to keep his plane between them, but yet they were soooo close. Way too close. Dad says basically that he blinked and then they shot off forward and away from him and became just dots in the sky in no time flat.

  40. Jon, I totally thought the same thing. You were drunk, molesting the tree, and you saw…what?

    Oh, you meant, A drunk. Like as if it were a noun or something. Right.

  41. I was a witness in a murder trial and the defendant decided that the best way to get out of it was to bark like a dog. So, he barked. Through my testimony. Through the testimony of others. Throughout the trial.

    Quite unusual.

  42. While halibut fishing in Alaska, a humpback whale and her calf swam circles around our dinky little fishing boat. It was cool, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t a wee bit terrified.

  43. Oh, and then there was the ‘redneck yard’ with two Chevettes amongst the clutter:
    One had been converted to a pickup, the other stretched as a limo.

  44. Late one night while working at my computer I heard the cat making a ruckus in the living room. Came around the corner to see in a frozen tableau,the cat with back arched, fur raised and one paw batting at a mouse that was up on its hind legs batting at her with its own paw. The boxing match must have lasted 30 seconds. Then the mouse ran behind a bookcase.

    Round one: Draw.
    Round Two: Knockout. She caught the mouse the next day.

  45. Funnily enough, I saw a deer cross the highway right in front of me over Christmas. I was on I-16 (between Savannah and Macon, GA), just passing an entrance ramp, when a deer darted out in front of me, skidded to a halt so fast it was nearly on its butt because it saw the car coming in from the ramp at the last minute, got up and ran around it, and was then off into the hills.

    Overall, the deer on I-16 know how to cross the road and are completely unfazed by passing traffic. They’ll munch on grass right next to the shoulder and not even look up. The deer I saw probably had the crossing timed right for me (I was in no danger of hitting it), but hadn’t factored in the entrance ramp. I guess it learned something new.

    I don’t have any “damnedest thing” stories that aren’t also depressing, but I’m enjoying the rest of yours. I especially like the one about the giant yogurt. :)

  46. A guy standing at line at the local coffee shop, in a pirate costume made of red fur with white trim (even the hat and the eye patch). His hair was greasy and stringy, and he had a three-day beard and spoke with a convincing Hollywood pirate accent.

    When people asked, he said that even little pirate children need a Santa. And that even Pirate Santa needs his morning caffeine. Harrr!!!

  47. Hmmm…. This isn’t as good as some the ones above, but it’s stuck with me:

    I lived in New Orleans for a few years and one of my apartments was right on a run-route that for some reason I had been only peripherally aware of. So I’m outside, and a few sleek, wiry, grim-faced particpants run by, like gazelles. A gaggle of fit, but less intense runners come next. There is a growing sound of thunder, and a whole herd of humanity moves past my place, from reasonably fit runners, to seasoned run-walkers, to elderly or out-of-shape walkers. The mass of people thins, and folks keep coming in little groups, walking, or jogging, or run-walking. This goes on maybe half an hour? I’m not sure.

    Bringing up the rear: men in top hats and tailed coats, pushing beer kegs in carts, and drinking as they go. New Orleans does a running event right.

    That was better than the rat in my toilet. Good times….

  48. I once saw a Klingon walk past me in a university’s student union. Fully decked out in the grey military outfit, with head ridges and everything. It wasn’t Halloween, there wasn’t a con or Star Trek event going on (that I knew of anyhow), and there were no other people wearing costumes.

  49. This doesn’t quite compare with some of the other stories, but sometime last summer the SO and I were driving back from Santa Cruz one night and saw a Porsche on fire parked at a gas station right off the highway. I don’t mean it was smoking a little, I mean it was ON FIRE, completely engulfed in flame, like in the movies. A fellow I presume was the owner was running around it wildly, hopping up and down, hands thrown up in the air. It was crazy.

  50. Here’s a second-hand story:

    My sister and her hubby live out in the country and had a bucket/composting toilet that used sawdust as a “covering agent.” When my sister was pregnant with the last kid, her husband was amused by her reports of sometimes seeing a weird glow at night in the bathroom – guess he thought she was hormonally hallucinating or sleepwalking or something.

    Then one night she comes running out of the bathroom yelling, hauls his ass out of a dead sleep in the middle of a pitch dark night and drags him into the bathroom, pointing at the bucket toilet, which was glowing with an eerie green light.

    Seems the sawdust he’d provided from his one-man sawmill had a wee bit of foxfire fungus on it, and was glowing quite brightly in the deep country darkness. That story made the rounds of the family gatherings for months – much the family’s amusement, my sister’s vindication and her husband’s embarrassment.

  51. Kinda weak, but still stands out in my mind as one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

    When I was a teenager, I let the meter reader come into the house. He went into the basement and all of a sudden I heard someone running up the steps. The basement door slammed and my younger brother stood there, breathing fire, clad only in his underwear.

    For some reason, he didn’t believe that I’d forgotten that he had gone downstairs to take his clothes out of the washer. It didn’t help that I was laughing so hard I was crying. Honest, I didn’t do it on purpose!

  52. Well, all this talk of Somerville a while back got me thinking to my old town. I once saw “the Somerville Pig” near my house. Big old blaack 600lb. hog. Seems a woman bought it during the Vietnamese pot bellied pig craze of the early 90’s and then discovered the hard way that she’d been sold a regular friggin huge pig. So you’d see her walking it every so often by Mystic Valley PArkway on Route 16. Stopped traffic every time.

    Also there was the Albino Squirrel of Davis Square. Whitey was seen in the trees alot going from house to house looking for sardines.

  53. “Mama! Snowman in Daddy’s Leg!” Lisa, I nearly pissed myself. I think this just may become my new catchphrase.

    I’ve had many “that’s the damnedest thing I ever saw” moments including one similar to Scott Mactavish’s submarine periscope story, except for me it was in the Med off the coast of Morocco. But the one that takes the cake for me was in Puerto De Santa Maria, Spain in the mid-80’s. A family of five, their dog, and the day’s groceries on what may have been THE original moped. Dad driving with a small child on his lap, Mom behind him with another child in her lap. A baby in the right-hand cargo basket, a small white dog with enormous eyes in the left cargo basket, and two bags of groceries in the handle-bar basket (including two yard-long loaves of fresh bread sticking straight up out of one bag). The moped had to be vintage 1950’s, going up hill blowing smoke, doing all of 1MPH with both Mom and Dad pushing along with their feet like Fred Flintstone. On a cobbled-stone road.

    Another “Weird Shit” moment in Spain was the time I was tooling down the Autopiste (the Spanish version of the German Autoban, only a lot more casual) doing around 90, and suddenly had to swerve around a mule-drawn cart in the left lane. I was 5 miles down the road still thinking “What the hell was that?” and sweating bullets.

    Lot of weird things in Spain, but it’s still a great place to live.

  54. Watching my cat catch fire.

    The story goes;
    Many moons ago I was living in Edinburgh, in the part of the town now immortalised in the book and movie ‘Trainspotting’, enjoying a hedonistic if somewhat squalid lifestyle. My girlfriend at the time, a pal from over the road and me were hanging out, semi-stoned and with a lit candle sitting on the floor. One of our cats, a long-haired creature called Max (who was not the brightest member of his species by a long chalk) wandered over, sat next to the candle… and one side of his body ignited in a sheet of blue flame.

    As we three humans were somewhat incapacitated, it took us a few seconds to react. Max sat perfectly still, utterly unconcerned as he burned. Finally our bodies caught up with the occasion and we leapt towards him. Max, *having still not noticed he was on fire*, jumped away from us – the sudden movement of which extinguished the blaze. Max didn’t actually realise anything had happened until another of the house-cats started sniffing his still faintly smoking, charred fur.

    He was otherwise unharmed.

  55. A musical stage version of A Clockwork Orange.
    The opening number seemed to last at least twenty minutes, with the cast strutting randomly around the stage singing and chanting 300 variations on the phrase “What’s it going to be, then?”
    I presume they got around to the plot sometime after we snuck out.

  56. Oh, also a burn victim who was trying to camouflage her condition by wearing an enormous stainless steel collander on her head.

  57. Hmm…well, there was that one time I was in Banff, Alberta, and I saw a moose waiting until the traffic light changed. It was. This big, big thing with antlers was standing there, waiting until the WALK thing showed, and it walked across, finishing at 12.

  58. I’ve been wracking my braains trying to think what truly is the damnedest thing I ever did see and I think I got it.

    I was waiting in line at a bank in Boston about 13-14 years ago. Guy in front of me is an older fella, wearing some kind of cheap security guard or bellhop outfit. He’s shorter than me (most people are) so I am casually staring down at the back of his head for no particular reason.

    Out from the collar of his jacket appears a cockroach.

    Now, not some little inch longer sucker but the kind they call palmetto bugs down south – the big three to four inch longs fuckers. This thing goes roaming around his collar and shoulder for a bit.

    I am so stunned I cannot move. I briefly consider – once I get my wits back – to tell him about the bug though I know he will most likely be embarrassed or introduce me to Shelley the Wonder Roach.

    As I am standing there, the bug does its reconnaissance and slips down into the guys shirt collar, without the guy even flinching.

    I left the bank, went to the liquor store, bought something vile and proceeded to try and bleach my brain. Didn’t work.

  59. Ah, so many “damndest” moments in the public library business. Which is the damndest of the damndest? The 6’6″ rampaging schizophrenic that it took six cops to take down (followed by an evacuation owing to heavy dose of pepper spray)? The hillbilly woman and her several kids running around with sticks and fishing poles, with mama shouting, “you come here! Don’t you love your mama?” Two homeless guys battling with newspaper rods?

    No…I think it was the time that the paramour of the above-mentioned woman asked me for books on UFOs and asked specifically if I would walk him back and help him find the right section. We got back to the 001s and none of the books seemed quite right. Finally, he said, “let me show you something so you know what I’m really looking for.” At this point, he started to pull up his shirt and tug down his trousers. “Hoo boy,” thinks me, “I think I know what he wants to show me.” Boy, was I wrong! What he showed me was the alien tracking device implantation scar located slightly below his waistline. Of course, I got a bit of a story along with the show, but the visual of a patron tugging down his pants was what stuck with me. And silly me, if he hadn’t said something, I would have thought I was looking at an appendix scar. Now I know.

    This guy, by the way, became one of my favorite patrons of all time, and it broke my heart when he put his fist through one of our glass doors after his girlfriend told him she was pregnant, but not by him. After he got out of jail, he left the midwest for Alaska, and almost 10 years later, I still get emails from him with tales of his latest adventures and imprisonments and mental health diagnoses. And you thought libraries were palaces of placid contemplation…

  60. I know that it’s not reader inquiry week but I was wondering what you think of the U of C decision to accept the common application? I heard a lengthy piece about this on NPR the other morning. A related question, what essay question did you answer when you applied? I applied to the U of C in large part because I liked the essay question! My question was about ordinary objects representing other things (e.g., love as a red, red rose – which I think was embedded in the question).

  61. Dave Prowse, the guy who played Darth Vader (no, not James Earl Jones, the guy inside the suit) made some road safety commercials dressed up as a superhero – the Green Cross Man.

    One Saturday morning I was walking home from shopping in Camberwell when he steps out of the police station, gets into an illegally parked Vauxhall Nova and drives off. Nobody batted an eyelid. This guy is nearly two metres tall, made Christopher Reeve into Superman and was wearing green and silver spandex. And nobody batted an eyelid.

  62. My high school psychology teacher was very pregnant when I took her class. She was kind of a hippie — a really cool hippie, but she loved flowing skirts and the like. Because standing after sitting for awhile was tough for her (she was VERY pregnant), she’d lean against her desk while she lectured.

    One day, we were listening to something about psychosis or somesuch, when there was a SPLASH! and suddenly, my teacher’s flowing skirt was drenched in water. Her water had broken, and, in the words of a fellow student, it looked like an empty aquarium had fallen out of her panties and exploded on the floor.

    Damndest thing I ever saw.

  63. The summer I spent in Leningrad (1987) studying Russian was particularly cool and cloudy. So on one of the few warm, sunny days, a couple other students and I were playing hooky and sunning ourselves on the red granite stonework on the side of the Neva river, well into the city.

    I noticed waves slapping against the embankment by our feet and as I got up to investigate, a damned submarine surfaced right in front of us. It turned out it was ‘Navy Week’ and this old WWII diesel was still used for training.

  64. Jay Caselberg licking Steve Piziks eye. I was sitting next to Steve, and had the perfect angle to see tongue touch eyeball–an image forever etched in my brain.

    the full story is much too long, and better told in a bar or at a party.

%d bloggers like this: