Since arriving here in Quartzsite, AZ, I’ve discovered that people on the fringe have much to teach. They’ve lived it all, the good, the bad and the ugly; and yet they haven’t lost their sense of self, their uniqueness, which is one of the more interesting benefits of living around society’s fringe; they aren’t afraid to be who they are. Let me give you an example: The other day I walked into the one and only local bookstore and was greeted by the proprietor, a tall, lanky, 50 something, his skin tanned and dried from years in the desert sun. It didn’t escape my notice that he greeted me wearing nothing but a codpiece. I mean he was wearing NOTHING but a knitted penis cover. He was a skinny desert dweller, very proud to display his personal freedom. He actually reminded me of a bull ready for rodeo. So after perusing his shop, I got in my car and said to myself, “what the F#@K was that all about”…. talking to myself again. Upon returning to my humble abode, I asked my neighbor Jim about the under-dressed bookstore owner. Jim, a veteran of the Quartzsite scene informed me that the guy was a local celebrity, having won his right in court to dress or not dress while assisting customers in his bookstore. Jim further told me that people from near and far flock to his bookstore to see him in all his glory. Imagine that, man have I got a lot to learn.
Every so often, I take Gwen for a walk along the perimeter of each swap meet. November seems to be the time when everybody begins setting up their vending booths. There are several new vendors arriving each day. Anyway, while walking the dog, I’ll pop in on some of the new arrivals, say hi and check out what they have for sale. Many people just kind of respond with a low groan of hi, others just look at me like, yea, I’m here, are you gonna buy something! They all seem so grumpy. I don’t get it ! In another two weeks there will be tens of thousands of 70 something snowbirds bargain hunting. The place will be filled with free spirited hippies; wanna be rock hounders; vagrants; migrants; indigents; and tourists. So why do they look so glum. Anyway, as I walk away, I look down at Gwen and say, “damn these people are sure grouchy”, at which time Gwen will just tilt her head like she totally understands me. Bam, there I go talking to myself again, all the while wondering when is this damn dog gonna reply back…..Which brings up the issue of sanity, or the lack there of. I’ve warned those closest to me to watch for the signs of me starting to lose it. I told my wife if she gets that phone call one day, “honey….I made contact…it’s the aliens…..they come by every morning at 3:00am and I make them bacon and eggs…..they love it ..man”; if I start describing intellectual conversations with my dog Gwen; If anything like that happens, ya better get down here quick and slap me back into reality. To help keep me in check, my closest contact geographically, is my sister in-law who lives in Bullhead City. Now we are talking about Bullhead City, Arizona, which in itself is full of people on society’s fringe. So I’m not sure who will keep a better grip on reality. You never know, my sister-in-law may decide, aw hell I don’t need teeth anymore, while I start wearing my newly knitted codpiece; then she’ll make coffee for the aliens, while I cook them bacon and eggs. That’s when I’ll need the intervention squad to pull me out of my desert utopia.
(Link to Video about the Naked Bookstore Owner)