About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Being the Weird Guy in the Yellow Helmet*

Copyright © words and photo 2011 by Ralph Couey

*Somerset, PA Daily America
October 22, 2011
as "Seeing life through different colored glasses"
I’ve been accused of being a little weird at times.  I suppose there’s some truth to that.
My particular brand of strangeness usually involves puns or my inexplicable lack of fashion sense.  I love puns, because I am a purveyor of words; words are my playground, and finding twists of irony and nonsense in them is one of my favorite games.
Where I really get the odd looks is when I dress myself.
I am partially color blind, which makes color matching difficult.  Fortunately, my favorite colors are blue and gray, which I can identify easily.  Most of my wardrobe is some variation of blue, white, or gray.   (On a side note, what’s the difference between “gray” and “grey”?)
Where I run into trouble is in matching the few greens and browns hanging in my closet.  When my wife is at home, I ask her to interpret for me.  When I pull a pants and shirt out of the closet and I see her shudder, I know I’ve picked the wrong pair.  Sears used to have a line of children’s clothes called “Roos” which could be mixed and matched by the type of animal on them.  I think someone needs a line of “Roos” for men.  At least for me, anyway.
As most of you know by now, I ride a motorcycle for reasons best explained on my motorcycle-themed blog, “Soul of a Motorcyclist.”  I’m always concerned about my visibility to other motorists on the road, so I bought a bright yellow Nolan helmet last year.  It seems to have worked because I’ve had far fewer close calls this year.  I see the double-takes from people, which is good, since inattentional blindness means if they look once, they probably don’t see the motorcycle.
Plus, bright yellow just makes me happier.
This year, I saved up my money and bought a communications system for that helmet, which means that I can get calls on my phone that I would have missed before, giving me a chance to pull off the road before they hang up.  I can also listen to music on this system as well, either from my phone or my iPod.
I don’t just ride for fun.  I commute a lot (unless there are thunderstorms in the forecast) and run errands, such as the grocery store.  The saddle bags are kinda small, so there’s not much I can cram in there.  Going to work, I carry my little cloth bag which holds my lunch, the morning paper, and my 64-ounce orange mug.  One of the requirements of my lap band life is to drink plenty of water between meals.  It’s also big enough to put out a small fire, and being orange, I can even block off a section of road as well.  Some people, when they see the mug, make the assumption that it’s coffee.  I understand their discomfiture.  I’d worry as well about someone guzzling 64 ounces of coffee every day.
I also carry stuff out of the stores.  The helmet, made of modern composites, isn’t heavy, but bulky and hard to tote with other things in my hand.  I used to put it in the kid carrier on the cart, but the metal scratches the helmet and the face shield.  So I just leave the helmet on my head, since it’s easier to wear it than to carry it.
Now this does cause some looks, especially in the store.  I get comments from people, usually along the lines of, “I didn’t know shopping was so hazardous.”  Kids are especially fascinated.  They’re so honest; they just stare.  Things get really interesting if I’m listening to music inside the helmet and singing to myself.   I don’t mind the looks or the comments, because I value my convenience over other people’s opinions.
Truthfully, there’s value in making someone’s day, giving them a story to take home about the weird guy who was wearing the yellow helmet in the grocery store. 
Part of me wants to be known as a pretty good writer, someone who produces columns that people can read and enjoy.  I stay away from politics, because it’s divisive and inspires dark feelings in at least half the readership. 
Besides, this world needs another political columnist about as much as it needs a strike from a 7-mile wide asteroid.
But if I can inspire a smile and a chuckle just being a weird guy in a yellow motorcycle helmet, I guess that’s okay as well.
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