When I moved here, one of the first people I met was the town character, an old woman who almost always wears red, white, and blue, like a female Uncle Sam. She apparently has some issues, including no “off” button, but other than that, she strides around town like a woman half her age, and doesn’t seem to cause too many problems.
But she is notorious, sometimes spoken about indulgently, sometimes dismissively, but notorious for all that.
I worried that I would become like her since I too walk everywhere (though I have to admit, I definitely walk like a woman my age) and I too have a quirk — my hats. I need to wear a hat because of the strong sun, and the fanciness and fancifulness of the hats has grown over the years, starting from a desire to reuse expensive bows and ribbons from gifts.
Now, the same people who once reassured me that I could never be like the red, white, and blue lady admit that I too have become a town character. One friend says that sometimes when she mentions me, people will say they don’t know me, but after she tells them I’m the Pat in the hat, suddenly they all say, “Oh, yes! I know her.”
Since I’m rather a self-effacing person, being a town character is not something I have ever aspired to being. And yet, perhaps it was inevitable.
When I was young, our town character was a woman in jeans and a halter top (before either garment was fashionable), her grey hair escaping from the bun she always wore. She drove around in an old jalopy with a rumble seat, looking for lost dogs. We marveled at that ancient car, but the fact is, my car is twice as old as hers was. (Mine just turned 48 years old.)
So, to recap — someone who walks around town when she isn’t driving her old jalopy, who sports unfashionable fashions and is known by more people than she has ever met. Yep. Town character. Inevitable.
I suppose I could stop wearing such eye-catching hats, but what’s the fun of that? And anyway, I’d still be driving a recognizable old car when I wasn’t on foot, so there’s really no way I can become invisible in such a small town.
Oh, well. I guess there are worse things than being a town character, but for an introvert, I’m not sure what they would be.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.