So there’s this guy I see on the way to lunch every day who I called Mullet Man when I first saw him, back in July of last year. Mullet Man had one of those really long in the back really short in the front haircuts that you see guys living in single wide trailers in back of their mama’s house sporting. There he was walking down the road with a twelve pack of beer in a Wal Mart plastic bag, hoofing it along the highway, in the middle of some really warm weather. The slope of the shoulder caused some instability in his walking, that and he was wearing flip flops, and I almost stopped to suggest that he break the twelve pack into two sixes and use two bags but I will never suggest someone get another plastic Wal Mart bag for any reason.
Mullet Man evolved. I saw him a couple of months ago on a bike, a bicycle that is, and he had the twelve pack hanging off one of the handle bars and that was really causing him to steer erratically. But even when I saw him without the beer he seemed ill at ease on the bike. He’s a young guy, in his early twenties somewhere, and there was a time everyone road a bike and everyone was good at it, too. But he steers like he’s navigating a mine field during a hailstorm while having to pee really badly. Mullet Man has no skills on two wheels.
With the advent of much cooler weather, Mullet Man has allowed his hair to grow out uniformly and he is now sporting The Epic Beard. We’ll still call him Mullet Man because Mountain Man suggests manhood to some degree or another and anyone who rides to Wal Mart on a bike to get a twelve pack of Natty hasn’t reached the Age Of Reason quite yet. Call me judgmental, but getting a car would be much higher on my list of things to spend money on rather than cheap beer.
If this story could get any stranger, and it could you know, I saw Mullet Man on his bike, with The Epic Beard, and he was holed up against the rain under the awning of a small store. It was raining nails and hammers and the thought occurred to me that Mullet Man had no beer on him. Would he get beer at the small store or would be continue the quest for Natty O’ Wally? Of course, I could have stopped and offered to help, but again, helping someone buy cheap beer from Wal Mart isn’t exactly doing that person a world of good, is it?
I stopped at the cheap gas station on the way home that day and it was still coming down like the water was pissed off at someone for sleeping with its wife. I was going to take the back roads because when it’s raining like this only people like me take the back roads. I drive slowly and even more slowly during hurricane and biblical floods. Mullet Man had taken refuge there, and made it another three or four miles, but he was in a world of hurt. He has to cross over an overpass to get to the next bit of sidewalk and there’s a half mile of busy four lane blocking his way. Wal-Mart, mythical land of cheap beer and infinite Chinese Plastics, is still a couple of miles away. I have no idea how he plans to navigate back home once it gets dark, but as it stands right now, he’ll either have to buy more expensive cheap beer, turn away from the Promised Land, or press on, at the risk of his life.
This is where I sit in my truck and realize there are things I will do for dogs that I just cannot bring myself to do for people. I’ll stop in the middle of nowhere and pick up a smelly little stray dog and wind up losing my life’s savings trying to cure it of cancer but I won’t give Mullet Man a ride. This seems like a really bad idea the more I think about it. First off, I see this guy every day, more or less, and if he sees me as transportation, it will end poorly for me. Second, his quest is not worth his life but he doesn’t realize it. Or maybe he believes his life is worth risking for a twelve pack and that’s not damage I know how to undo. At the moment he’s standing there, pressed up against the wall with nothing but a bicycle to shield him from rain that’s falling an inch an hour, soaking wet with The Epic Beard, does it not occur to him that he’s in a bad, bad, space?
There’s never been a stray who I have picked up that didn’t display some sort of happiness and gratitude for having its position relieved. Yet I have this feeling if I offered Mullet Man a ride back home he would protest and ask if I wouldn’t take him forward on his way. He’s made it so terribly close to the finish line, time is running out on daylight, and what happens if he doesn’t get his beer? A twelve pack a day is a pretty serious, or an ugly serious habit. It reeks of someone giving him beer money each day, like an allowance of sorts, and this is the way he intends to spend his money and his life. You can’t say that about dogs. They intend to live as large as they can, given who they live with.
I stop before pulling into traffic and look back at him through the rearview mirror. The rain pounds the truck as if my truck is an affront to water everywhere and my wipers go full on to try to stem the falling tide. Mullet Man pushes himself back harder against the wall and I pull away into the storm.