I think it's true that every town has their characters. In small towns of a thousand people or less, they are just more obvious. For better or worse, you can't escape the people you don't want to see, and if you do want to see someone, all you have to do is ask: "Hey, have you seen Peter lately?" or, better yet, go to the moraine, that's where he will be, because other people have told you so.
This town has its share of interesting people. When I first moved here, I was cornered in the Safeway by a large man who without preamble told me that I needed to move in with him up the Lostine Canyon. (Later, friends told me, "Well, he DOES have really nice property up there.") In the same Safeway the other day, a woman behind me in line gave me her opinion of Caitlyn Jenner, unprompted: "I think being with the Kardashians made him crazy. He would be normal if it weren't for them." Unable to escape, I silently willed the cashier to hurry while trying to politely disagree without causing a fist fight.
There's the mysterious man I call (secretly) Blackwater, because he apparently is independently wealthy and once mentioned he had worked in the Middle East, but reveals little of his background. There's the gypsy who hasn't had a job in ten years but travels all over the world. How does he do it? I don't know, but it isn't something you ask.
You can't really be nosy in a small town. You have to let the years slowly let you know about people. After all, you have to live with them in a small space. You might need them someday. It is easy to inadvertently offend--a woman I knew and liked abruptly unfriended me on Facebook and won't talk to me again after I posted that I heard wolves howling. "Anyone who is a wolf lover, unfriend me now," she posted. Who knew?
At work I can time my day by when a) Big Guy with Tiny Dog walks by (about 0900); Slow Walking Lady with Jack Russell strolls by (1000), Cowboy Hat Man with grocery bag (about noon) and Tony running in homemade moccasins (anytime between 1100-1200). Apparently I look out the window a lot! But there's always the occasional surprise, like someone riding a horse down the street. The small town characters are like that, a little dash of spice in an ordinary day.
I'm not a character, but after a few years in a town you get a reputation that sticks. The first two questions people ask me when they see me are these:
- "Where have you been hiking?"
- "How's the writing going?"
Now that I think about it, maybe I am a version of a small town character. I'm the outdoor obsessed writer, always off on a trail somewhere. I'm sure people think that's a little strange, as well as the fact that my husband and I have two houses and don't do every little thing together. That's okay though. It's better than being boring.
Do you have small town characters?
What two questions do people always ask you?