Mixed Nuts

I come from a long line of nutty broads. My mom, her mom, other women in the family — most of us have what I enjoy calling the haywire gene. Sometimes the crazy kicks in. It’s amusing enough when we’re solo, but we can be downright bizarre when we run in a pack.

Earlier tonight I was outside, looking up at some low clouds and crisp, flickering stars. The night was cold and I was about to head back inside, but not before I remembered something that I experienced in the early ’80s.

My grandmother had taken me somewhere one evening. For the life of me I couldn’t tell you where we’d been, as most events with her during those years blend together: going to the San Diego Zoo, taking my first plane trip, seeing a play at a dinner theater. But that night when we returned home from wherever we were and she parked on our cul-de-sac, I recall looking up and seeing three distinct lights in the sky.

I remember being unafraid but curious. The lights were maybe an eighth to a quarter of a mile over us and they were all attached to something. What that thing was, I hadn’t a clue. But if you’re holding a yardstick and lift it horizontally over your head, that was the length of one of the triangle’s sides. Whatever it was stayed motionless and silent, but it was definitely a large structure in the sky.

I occasionally think about it and wonder if my kid senses were to blame. Perhaps my sense of distance was warped. Maybe I was momentarily deaf and couldn’t tell that it was nothing more than a noisy, hovering police helicopter out looking for someone. I certainly hadn’t been drinking anything other than milk or water, since I was no older than seven years of age…so, for once, I can’t wonder if the bottle was to blame.

That said, I don’t think it was a helicopter. I don’t think my sense of distance or size was skewed. I can’t tell you what I saw, but there’s nothing that obscures my street from the heavens — no overhanging tree branches, no buildings — nada. It’s asphalt, then straight up into the sky. But something was in the airspace.

Maybe my crazy kicked in at a young age; perhaps that night was the birth of my haywire gene. Even today, illuminated streetlights turn off when I’m out on my evening walks, and lights that are off come back on when I pass by them. Then there were the times right after I moved home from Connecticut when my computer would turn on in the middle of the night all by itself. To power it on normally, you’d press a flat button flush with the front of the tower. But some nights I’d awaken to the Windows start-up tones and my monitor glowing in an otherwise dark room. Lately my car presets will change to a different station while both hands are on the wheel. Weird, right?

Ah, the mystery of it all. If I were to loop the women in my family in on such things, I’m betting that they’d either ‘fess up to similar experiences, or simply believe me without question. Anyone else, like those of you reading, for example, may finally have your suspicions about me confirmed: yep, I’m a weird one. But some lady told me that very thing on a plane once, so it’s not news to me.

Whatever the reason for the plethora of oddities, it’s nice to know I’m surrounded by a bunch of mixed nuts among whom I’ll fit in perfectly. For them, and for their stories that can always be guaranteed as having similar degrees of strangeness, I am thankful.

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