I walked into a gas station in Primghar, Iowa, yesterday.
It was roughly 3:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. A workday.
Yet, for some reason every booth in that gas station was filled. There were at least fourteen old men in there gossiping with one another. They were so loud that all their voices jumbled together to make one clamorous soundtrack of war stories, crop prices and complaints about grandchildren, politicians and the wind.
When I stepped into the gas station…everyone of them. All fourteen of them with NO exceptions…
…and stared directly at me.
No more talking. No more eye-contact with the person at their table. No more sipping their afternoon coffee. No more anything…just staring.
My attire was very northwest Iowa trendy–jeans, t-shirt and a ball cap–the only things that set me apart were a leather wrist cuff and my red shoes.
I ignored the attention and wandered over to the coolers to snag a soda, all the while, all eyes remained on me.
When I disappeared behind the nacho cheese dispenser, the voices started up again. They were quieter and more in sync than the loud calamity of voices I’d heard prior to stepping into their view.
From what I could gather from their whisperings back and forth they were discussing the kid who’d just walked in. Being that I was the only person who’d entered the store, I deduced that they meant me.
A few more seconds of eavesdropping revealed that there were only two reasons an otherwise generic-looking Midwestern boy would walk around with red shoes and what appeared to be part of a belt wrapped around his arm.
I am either a raging homosexual or high on some sort of narcotic substance.
That’s it. I either love drugs or dudes. No other options.
Most of the old men didn’t have much knowledge in the ways of dude-lovin’ so they speculated more on which drugs I may have ingested prior to entering their sleepy little gas station.
The one I heard whispered the most was Meth…although one of the old men did actually utter the phrase “Mary Jane.” A colloquialism I thought had turned passé when Tom Petty went all lyrical about it years back.
Whatever the case may be…the gay, druggie in the red shoes and wrist cuff who just wanted a Mountain Dew promptly received an invite to a party from the two lovely (and presumably high school-aged) gals behind the counter.
Apparently they didn’t believe I looked gay…OR…They DID believe that I looked like a druggie and they were hoping I could hook them up?!
Either way…I wanted to express my love for small-town Iowa where it is totally okay to do something out of stride with the rest of town–just as long as you’re cool with everyone talking about you behind your back.