the hidden dangers of jazz band
I’m in the mood to tell a true story. Well, as truthful as memory can be. I wish I could sell it as a cautionary tale or even vaguely inspiring but the terrible truth about true stories is that usually they are neither. Just people being people, living out and reinforcing every cliché that has come down the pike. Even I have to admit I don’t come off very likeable in it but there you are.
The guy that the story revolves around was someone I knew vaguely of in high school. He ran with a cooler crowd than I did and by that I mean he was in jazz band… which gives you an idea of the crowd I ran with. From where I sat on the social ladder I had to crane my neck up to see the guys who were in jazz band. I never really interacted with him but I knew of him and he always seemed like a relatively down-to-earth kind of guy. I think he was percussion.
Years later, when I was a senior in college, guess who I run into? That’s right, the relatively down-to-earth jazz band guy. What’s even stranger was that he wasn’t going to school at my college and my college was set in a small town with 2 hours of cornfields surrounding it in any direction. You had to set out to arrive there, nobody wandered in.
He immediately knew who I was even though it took me awhile to remember him. The biggest obstacle to remembering him being that when he was in high school he had a freshly-scrubbed all-American appearance. Apple pie had nothing on him.
Somewhere between graduation and his arrival in my Midwest University he must have gotten a hold of some bad jazz or something because he looked like a freaking hippie. And not the nice kind of hippie. The annoying stereotype hippie. Not only wearing the stereotypical sandals and torn jeans ensemble but sporting grooming habits usually reserved for mountain men. And not only that ‘not only’ but there was one more ‘not only’ that easily became the most annoying and recognizable of the ‘not only’s.
Everywhere he went he carried a rabbit.
I wouldn’t dare make this shit up. He walked around 24/7 with this stupid rabbit. A big-ass bunny that shared his lack of concern about outward appearance. Can a bunny look disheveled?
It’s hard when someone that was never a friend to begin with suddenly inserts himself into your life when you have no idea what to do with him. He had a habit of always just showing up. I can never actually remember him walking through a door. You would just look up and he and his rabbit would just be there sitting there on your couch. From what I recollect of him in high school he was considered funny and outgoing and he had a lot of friends. How did I get the mumbling cross between Grizzly Adams and Slingblade slumped on my couch? I didn’t even know him in high school, why did I suddenly feel like I owed it to him to amuse him when he didn’t even actually go to my school?!
Around campus he was known as one of 2 things; “the guy with the rabbit” and “that guy with the fucking rabbit”. Soon I was known as “the guy who hangs around that guy with the fucking rabbit”. Not a good guy to be. Social death.
I never really knew how he ended up coming to my college. Maybe he knew someone else from our high school and they were smart enough to transfer to another school and change their name before he found out where they lived. Whatever the case, out of nowhere I had a new pal… which didn’t sit too well with my existing pals. Which is how the story ends.
I could bore you with a lot of tales about the weeks he was on campus, seemingly everywhere at once, but to save time I’ll just say that by the time 2 weeks had passed since the first sighting of “that guy with the fucking rabbit” he had managed to creep out almost every student and teacher… no small feat given the number of students and faculty was well over 24,000.
He just didn’t fit. And this was in an environment that everyone was supposed to fit somewhere. He didn’t. Just not in my somewhere anyway.
One day my roommate was talking rather negatively about him and instead of defending him or at least keeping quiet I did the easy thing and started ripping on him as well. Turns out both he and his rabbit were sitting on the nearby stairs out of our line of sight but well within earshot. I turned the corner to start down the stairs and there he was. Every bit of blood must have drained from my face. I felt like such a douche. He seemed to be taking it ok but the look of shock and betrayal on his rabbits face was chilling. There was no use trying to say something to patch things up, there was nothing I could say. He got up and walked away and I literally never saw him again.
My roommate was philosophical about it, saying “fuck that guy”. I think what he meant was that there are people that just don’t fit into your life and no amount of being tactful will ever fix it. The only possible way it can end is badly. Maybe that was the least ugly way it was going to resolve itself.
I think some people make you angry because they make you feel bad about yourself. I wondered why I couldn’t be more tolerant of a guy who carries around a scruffy rabbit, talks about loving one another incessantly and has a big unkempt beard. They annoy the fuck out of you because you just want to be happy with who you are and they go and fuck it up by being someone who is so harmless that you just want to see them run over by a bus.
Anyway, I got to go back to my normal life and never had to think about him again until today when I saw that big-ass rabbit at the mall pet store and had to wonder where he and his pet rabbit ended up and if he was ever able to find his place. Far removed from all the people like me.