Last night, I decided I wanted to go to the thrift store. Every so often I get these urges, and I've learned to follow them, because I'll find a treasure or great deal or something I wouldn't have otherwise. Yesterday, I found Mr. Mosquito. I noticed his car going in. It was covered with bumperstickers. "Enforce Indian Treaties" "Trust the Lord, but lock the car." and so many others. The "Enforce Indian Treaties" one made me smile the same way this shirt does. The driver was talking on his cell phone to someone, and I didn't want to interfere just to tell him I loved the sticker. He was wearing a bright headband.
So I went in to do my browsing, and a few minutes later, I hear someone say "I'm jealous of your hair." (my hair is waist length)
"Oh! Hello! I'm jealous of your bumper stickers. I was noticing them when I came in."
"My brothers made me cut my hair and shave when my father died. I haven't spoken to them since."
We started talking, and he told me he should bite me. He was charming. Really. He showed me his driver license,and I spotted his V.A. card in his wallet, which I'm sure is a whole bunch of stories I'd love to have. His name was Beagle B. Mosquito, and he insisted that since beagles and mosquitos bite, and bees sting, he should bite me. He was 83 years old and funny and whimsical and passionate about native rights. He asked me who my people were, and I told him, and he told me who his were. We were a traffic menace to the sorts of kids you never see in thrift stores except before Halloween.
Sometimes, when I talk to the very old, I'm just stunned by how much they've seen in their lives, it's overwhelming to think of it. But Beagle B. Mosquito would have been astounding to meet if he was 50 years younger, with that sense of humor and his smiles. I feel like I lost a big opportunity by not giving him my cell number and asking if he and his wife would like to have dinner sometime.
But I can comfort myself with at least knowing that I had a chance to talk to him, and he was extraordinary and seemed like someone I wish I could have made up. He would be a great imaginary friend. It's sounds like the name of an imaginary friend doesn't it? But it's not. He's very very real. And as long as people like that exist, the world is a more interesting place then a book anyway.