Okay, the guy was wearing a kilt — you know, a pleated wool skirt. Granted, it was a hot day, but a skirt? He had on knee socks, too, with the little tassels swinging in the breeze. Oh, and a wee purse thingy on his hip. He was young and tall with curly, dark hair and surprisingly nice legs; a bonny laddie, really.
You’re used to seeing people like that in big groups. Carrying bagpipes, usually. In parades or the highlands of Scotland. But there was no parade and this isn’t Glasgow. So what in the world was this guy doing? In the parking lot of a Barnes & Noble? On an August afternoon? In the middle of Illinois?
The thing is, you can get away with being unconventional or offbeat or flat-out weird in the big city. No one cares. No one even notices. Here, in Middle America, we notice. What else is there to look at? Cornfields? A guy in a skirt, now that’s entertainment, a genuine, bona fide attraction. We’d rank that up there with sideshows and car accidents. People come from miles around to see such spectacles.
I’m no exception, I was intrigued. The whole scenario just seemed odd. I mean, Halloween is still months away. And it couldn’t be a fraternity prank — the students won’t be back for weeks. So. Had he lost a bet? Made a wrong turn on St. Patrick’s Day? Or was he just an eccentric on his way to the bookstore? One man’s hobo is, after all, another man’s hepcat.
Consider the tale of Antoni Gaudi, for example. He’s the man known as ‘God’s architect’, the one who designed Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (one of the most spectacular buildings ever constructed). This legendary genius was mistaken for a tramp and pushed aside when he was hit and, ultimately, killed by a tram. Can you believe that? And then there’s Howard Hughes. Did he look or act like a billionaire tycoon? Ha, no.
The moral of our little story should be, you can’t judge a book by its cover. But, come on, who are we kidding? Of course, we can judge books by their covers — publishers make sure of it. They spend a fortune testing and analyzing and focus testing everything from the typefaces to the colors to the paper stock of the book jacket. They want us to judge books by covers, they practically demand it. Fine, then, let’s just skip the moralizing.
Now, getting back to Mr. Skirt-Wearing Pretty Boy. Turns out he’s a server at a new “pub” in the area called, get this, The Tilted Kilt. Yeah, yawn, mystery solved.
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