So last night I went out eclipse watching with some buddies. And the lunar eclipse was cool, but of course we were standing on a bridge in downtown Raleigh, and weirdness was bound to occur.

“You’re a buncha nerds!” said an obviously drunk man, walking past us. We looked at him. “And old men!” he amended. (All males in the party had beards…that’s the only explanation I can come up with on that one.) “It’s the lunar eclipse, right?” he continued.

“Right…” said Jason, somewhat warily.

“This won’t happen again ’til 2010,” said the drunk. “And then in 2012, when all the planets will line up! And it’ll be the end of the Mayan calendar!”


We looked at him some more. We are geeks. We are fully aware of when the Mayan calendar ends, thank you very much. Some of us have probably created handy desktop widgets that count it down. (Not me, of course, but I hang out with a lot of programming types.)

“I’ll be back with beer,” promised the drunk, and walked off again.

This might have been ignorable as just one more bit of local color who had read a little too much Terrence McKenna, but sure enough, about fifteen minutes later, he returned, carrying a case of Bud in one hand.

This time he zeroed in on Badger.

Badger is…interesting. He’s a great guy, mind you, a fabulous guy. He is goth in ways that makes goth people nervous. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure film, music, and books. But when the zombie apocalypse comes, I want Badger to be in my party, and not because of his skill with the theramin (although he does play the theramin.)*

He’s also a weirdness magnet on a scale that makes my Defective Wildlife look like the little cartoon animals that sing around Disney heroines.

The drunk guy staggers up to Badger and says “You’re ugly as all hell, but I want you to have my card anyway.”

Kevin and I, as one, put our heads together, turned away, and made the stifled choking noises of two people who do not know whether to dive for cover or break into hysterical laughter, or perhaps both simultaneously.

“…excuse me?” said Badger, who speaks very precisely and calmly at all times, and was being even more calm and precise than usual.

The drunk repeated himself.

“Oh my god oh my god he did not just say that to Badger…” 
(Badger, it should be noted, is not ugly. Weird, yes, distinctive, yes, but not notably uglier than any of the rest of us, so this was even more left field than one might guess.)

“What did you just call me?”

“Oh my god I can’t believe this…” We all inched a little farther away, or tried to, just to get out of the blood spatter range.

“Hey man, it’s dark, I can’t see you all that well…”

“Then how do you know I’m ugly?”

By this point Kevin and I were holding each other upright and nearly hyperventilating in horrified amusement.

Fortunately for the drunk, there were too many witnesses for Badger’s taste, so he was allowed to live through a rambling, incoherent speech about how he made all-natural furniture (no wood! no metal! No, I don’t know what it’s made out of, either!) and was just out here trying to sell himself–apparently one does a lot of handmade furniture business on a bridge at night during the lunar eclipse–and pressed cards on all and sundry, then staggered away.

“I suspect that I am too ugly for his beautiful furniture,” said Badger archly. And really, what more could you say?

*Not, perhaps, during the end of the Mayan calendar, though. If anybody I know is going to suddenly turn out to be the high priest of Tezcatlipoca…well, let’s just say I like my ribcage the shape it is now.

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