Saturday… a week ago, early morning, at a store of convenience, where a now all-too-familiar argument, between a store clerk — (who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent) and a camo-clad, red faced, red-necked all “Merican” — (who shall remain nameless to protect the ignorant) is in mid-swing.

“You can’t make me wear no (expletive deleted) mask! I’ll go where I please and do what I want! This is ‘Merica…I got rights!” shouts Mr. Merica. “Sir… please watch your language… there are children (nods towards nearby car) nobody’s questioning your rights or making you do anything,” the clerk replies calmly, “It’s store policy that all patrons are asked to maintain social safety measures in order to…”

Mr. Merica cuts him off, “The 1st amendment says I can say whatever the (expletive deleted) I want!” Bucking up to the clerk he continues his tirade, “You questioning my (expletive deleted) freedom of speech? I got rights! First this “fake pandemic” to control us, then our freedom to speak our (expletive deleted) minds! Next they’ll try to take away….”

“Man if you start in on the second amendment, I may go Texas- Chainsaw-Massacre on your arse!” I interrupted, “This has nothing to do with violating your rights, taking your firearms or shutting you up! For the store to remain open they have to follow certain mandates. One being that all patrons wear protective masks! If people refuse, then the business can be shut down and you’ll have to buy your beer elsewhere!”

He started to reply when backup came from behind in form of a feminine voice, “He’s right, you know. It’s not about your rights! It’s about supporting one another so our country can survive. So please, put on your mask, buy your beer and get out of the way so the rest of us can get on with our day.”

Defeated and outnumbered, he reluctantly dons his mask and proceeds inside. The clerk nods a silent thanks and I in turn turn back to my back-up. You ever notice you’re going about your day, minding your business, when out of the blue — *BLAMO* weird happens.

80's LadyBehind me stands a rather eclectically assorted trio. The “feminine voice” looks like she just stepped out of an 80’s workout video; fit and shapely in a red/black one piece with BIG blonde hair. To her left stands a smiling young African-American dude, long sleeved, tie-dyed silk shirt, peace sign, bell-bottoms and bare feet? To the right hunches a scowling, pale-skinned, dark haired, in all black, eye-lined, Goth kid. It’s like the past few decades had an all-night bender and threw up in the parking lot.

Miss Jazzercise inquires before I can thank or think- “Mr. Chainsaw right?” Warily I nod. “My man!” the Technicolor hippie says “Slapping me some skin”? Goth boy only grunts as the 80’s flashback continues, “We’re rather disappointed in you… no article on your birthday last week?” For reasons I can’t explain I explained, “Just wasn’t feeling very birthday-ish. Maybe feeling my age… or it just didn’t seem to matter.” “Well of course it matters!” she interjects, “it’s the day you arrived to life! It should be cherished and celebrated… not everybody gets to have birthdays!” Well yeah, I guess you’re… wait…what??? Ignoring my confusion she continues, “Might I extend a belated, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you and since we are running behind schedule, might I inquire as to why you came to that store clerk’s defense?” Time stood still; all three leaned in, awaiting my response, so I responded…It seemed like the right thing to do at the time… or maybe time to do the right thing. What’s “right” is all a matter of perspective, which only time will tell. So we do what feels right and hope at the end of the day we’re one of the good guys in the grand scheme of things.

The 80’s lady smiles, “Well I’m satisfied!” Her two companions nod in agreement. The Hippie slaps me some more skin leaving a laminated card in my palm. Oh…this was my right to continued existence license renewal exam? Of course they’re gone when I look up, leaving me to ponder which was the representative of heaven, hell and the realm in-between? Oh well, happy belated birthday to me.

I welcome almost all questions and comments via FOCUS, or E-mail me directly at – [email protected].

Hope to hear from you, until then try and stay focused. See ya!