Being loosely categorized as a humor columnist, I am asked on occasion to write about other people’s funny experiences as if they were my own. And when I say “funny,” I mean weird, disgusting or downright spooky.
The other day, a neighbor asked me to look at footage from her surveillance camera from the night before. On it, she claimed, was a ghost. Intrigued, I sauntered over in my bathrobe only to find an ominous image of a lady with a bun on her head, who never moved, even when cars drove right through her.
“You need to write about this,” my neighbor said.
No, I thought to myself. I need to burn some sage and move a few more thousand miles away from Salem.
The day after that, a friend called about how her 5-year-old son had an offensive odor about him, only to discover that he had a month-old Band-Aid lodged up his nose that had apparently rotted, and wouldn’t that make a great column?
No, I thought to myself. In fact, I’m hanging up now.
And then there are those cute “aw, shucks” moments about other people’s kids who say the darndest things. So, in the spirit of authenticity, I often find myself wandering the streets searching for something weird, disgusting or downright spooky to happen to me.
Last week, I got lucky. While training for a 10K that I’m never going to run, I’ve taken to trotting around my neighborhood to justify the $180 pair of shoes I bought to prepare for it. Because I’ve been known to choke on my own sweat while breaking a pace above the speed of grocery shopping, when I saw a pony in a neighbor’s front yard, I figured I had simply died and kept running until I saw the Light. But the light never came, and my shin splints were very much alive, which meant that I was indeed still breathing and had really seen a pony.
As I retraced my steps, several cars passed me, people walking their dogs said hello, and no one–not one person–acknowledged this pony, which was now 8 inches away from me nudging his nose over the fence.
“Hi,” I whispered to him as I pet his nose. “Am I the only one who can see you?”
If he had answered, I’d be writing a book right now, not a column, and en route to the “Today” show. But he didn’t. He just looked at me and swished his tail.
I’ve taken to running past him every day now, always to the complete obliviousness of those around us. Is he my muse? My running coach? The bun lady’s long-lost pet?
I’ll probably never know. But as the year comes to a close, I’m reminded once again that no matter what your story, don’t forget to tell it before you turn the page.
— By Cynthia Jenkins (aka Sugar Mama)