I met this guy who I’ve known for quite some time the other day, and he said I was extreme. Me? What? This was coming from a guy who had his wife’s placenta dried, whereupon he then split it in half to bury one side with a tree in America, and the other in Australia. This from the same guy who had just come into the bar with blood trickling down his neck after getting part of a chopstick embedded in it. Me? Extreme? I don’t think so. And then there was that youngish dude who just came into the bar after a hospital visit. He said his blood pressure was measured at 207/195. How this dude got here without the aid of an ambulance is beyond me. There was another sixty-something-year-old engineer who used to work for the CIA back in ‘Nam. He married a former nun of all people. I once met another bloke who claimed to have run a marathon after only two days of training. This was the same bloke who then borrowed a cool million in cash from a casual friend only to have it show up at his doorstep in a big duffle bag. Girls feeling a bit left out? No need to worry because I know this girl who got a metal medical tray of golf ball sized tumors removed from her only to have a fully healthy baby the next year. Who could forget that Irish girl who came into town with her Wenzhounese/Danish older boyfriend to open a bar. They did it, split up, and she finally went back to the U.K. to have a son with none other than her cousin. That’s over the top. How about the southerner who set fire to a business partner’s fleet of Cadillac limos after a deal went awry? Chinese people feeling left out. I once knew a girl who started selling “fashionable” clothes out of a ten square meter shop back in the 80s. Standing a full head and shoulders shorter than me, and speaking in a voice squeakier than a chipmunks’, she built that little shop into a “tiny” fashion empire.
So the next time you’re sitting in a bar, and the unfamiliar guy next to you says that he’s been in China since he was twenty years old, please don’t let out a muppet-like, “Wow!” For starters, you’ll make the guy* feel really old, not to mention, you’ll make him feel as if he’s something other than normal. Because let me tell you something, that shrimper who comes here a few times a year, doesn’t consider himself abnormal, though he did go to Afghanistan in ’74. He’s just telling us a good story, and he just wants us to laugh, and enjoy his experiences. And man does that guy have great tales to tell or what? May your Year of the Horse be filled with the extreme. It’s normal for us.
By Tim Hoerle