Thursday, July 7, 2011

I saw a cat playing the bagpipes.

Yesterday I watched an all-white cat play the bagpipes. You wish I was kidding.

I was going to an outdoor showing of Some Play Shakespeare Wrote. Prior to the show people were spreading out blankets and booze and snacks and having a lil’ picnic. Pretty neat.

Suddenly, music started to fill the sweat inducing summer evening. It was the sound of a soothing bagpipe lullaby. My friends and I jerked our heads over our shoulders to find the commander of such a sweet melody.

What did we behold? The bagpipe player was none other than a man in a giant cat suit – which makes perfect sense…? The costume was complete with gloves, a mask, and a long white tail. The white of his fur was offset by the tastefulness of his black leather vest. On a scale from one to Freddy Mercury – the vest was a bonafide Freddy. This guy was tall, too. Imagine Gene Simmons in a cat suit. Yeah, Gene Simmons.

Blankets were scattered on the grassy lawn like lily pads. Everyone was enjoying their canned beer and hummus spreads – as the giant bagpipe playing cat crafted a song fit for a funeral was weaving between them. Sometimes he would stop in front of a particular blanket and play just for one group – whether they wanted it or not.

Is there a school one can attend to learn such talents? Would one consider being a bagpipe playing kitty cat a “calling?” One thing’s for sure, he definitely sat in the front of the school bus.

I couldn’t get over it. This man decided to dress in a cat suit. Get his bagpipe. And play for people who were in the middle of their picnics. This was all very strange. Weird. Bizarre. My friends and I were laughing at this guy. We were laughing at how uncomfortable he was making everyone feel. We were laughing at the awkwardness of it all.

Between the laughter, the eye rolls, and the bagpipe music, I realized…the world needs weirdos.

Ok, maybe “weirdos” is the wrong word. We need the strange ones. The intriguing ones. We need the people that blankly stare at you. People who wear different colored shoes and have an affinity for sequence. Lady Gagas. The people with rainbow colored Mohawks and facial piercings that should only be seen by National Geographic journalists. We need men in cat suits to play the bagpipes.

We need people who don’t care what anyone thinks.

If we didn’t have people who were “outside the box” we wouldn’t be able to realize the box we have trapped ourselves in. These people introduce color to our shades of gray. They also make us evaluate what we perceive as normal behavior.

Imagine your own life, your own world, and your own circle of influence. Imagine not caring what other people were thinking. Think about all the things we don’t do because of what other people might think.

Why don’t we wear sweatpants to work?
Why don’t we order the new Trenta size from Starbucks?
Why don’t we sing aloud while grocery shopping?
Why don’t we walk around naked at night with all the windows open and the lights on?
Why don’t we chug margaritas like water?
Why don’t we dance on the sidewalk?

We restrict ourselves from impulses and urges because we’re worried about what someone might think. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of complete strangers who we will never see again. That would be absurd.

I was recently on a plane home and I was fortunate enough to sit next to one of those people who wants to become your best friend for a 2 hour flight. They want your life story, and believe me, you’re going to hear theirs, too. The woman was blabbing on about how she accidentally put her personal bag with her ipod and book in the overhead compartment – so she decided she was just going to sleep for the flight. Lucky her (I can’t sleep in cars or airplanes even if it would mean World Peace). This was our conversation:

Plane companion: Ugh, my ipod! My book! I wasn’t thinking.

Me (staring into my book): Oh. Okkk…

Plane companion: Oh well, I’m just going to sleep.

Me: Oh. Okkk…

Plane companion: If I start snoring, hit me, will you?

Me: Oh. Okkk…

Plane companion: I snore really loud.

Me (snapping my book shut): I will definitely wake you up because everyone will be looking at the crazy person who snores so loud.

Plane companion: Let them stare! I don’t care! All these people I’ll never see again in my life?

Me: Still…

Plane companion: I’m just worried about annoying you!

Me: (evil thoughts – too late – duck my head in my book)

Plane companion: Don’t want to bother you while you read.

She didn’t care what anyone thought of her ear curdling snores. What did it matter? In the scheme of life, what does it matter that a dozen strangers heard you snoring on the plane? What does it matter that some people having a picnic thought you looked ridiculous in a cat suit?

I call these people the Reminders. They remind us to not be so uptight. They remind us to not be content with our shades of gray. They remind us it doesn’t matter what other people think. They remind us the world has capacity for Unique and Different, and if it didn't, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

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