By some people’s standards, Manic Impressives are weird. We challenge cultural norms and don’t behave the way other people think we should. But to me, weird is often good. Sometimes even great. Like these 3 weird things that happened in my life.
‘Weird’ may not be the right word to describe these things. ‘Amazing’ may be a better word, or even ‘cool’. But weird ranked higher on the headline analyzer app I use, so we’re going with that.
George Benson Thought He Knew Me
I was new to town when a friend took me to The Baked Potato, a famous jazz club in L.A. We got seats, and I went to look around.
Suddenly, a big dude with the largest hands I have ever seen jumped out at me. He grabbed my hand, pumped it up and down and said, “Hey EeVon, it’s me, George!”
A bit stunned, I looked up at this big fellah and said to myself, “holy crap, George Benson thinks he knows me!”
“Sorry, George,” I finally say. “My name is Aram, not EeVon. ”
Then he tells me about this dude EeVon. What a bad cat he was, how he wrote a song for his album and was the Stevie Wonder of Brazil.
For you young folks, George Benson is a 10 time Grammy winning jazz guitarist, with a star on Hollywood Boulevard and a triple-platinum album to his credit. He dropped into the club to support his backup band who happened to be playing that night.
George sat in for a set, and tore it up with his just-released version of “On Broadway.” After he finished, a table full of Japanese tourists mobbed him for autographs. One guy asked if I would take a picture of him with George, so I said “sure buddy, get in there”. As soon as I handed the camera back to him, the whole group cued up, camera in hand, patiently waiting their turn.
I took George’s picture a dozen times. It was a magical night.
Fast forward 15 years. I’m back in the Bay Area, reading the Sunday paper, and notice an article about a Brazilian songwriter coming to town. It didn’t click at first because when I saw the name Ivan, I pronounced it like Americans do – Eye-Van. But soon I was shouting to my wife. “It’s EeVon! EeVon’s coming to town!”
We bought tickets, and after the show, I talked my way backstage. I told Ivan Lins the story of how George Benson mistook me for him. I was worried at first, being that Ivan was a tall drink of water and I was a short, balding mug of goo. But Ivan was thrilled to hear that George Benson called him the Stevie Wonder of Brazil. The weirdness came full circle and delivered another magical night.
I Met My Best Friend In A Blizzard
First, you must accept the fact that I have several best friends. So don’t get all jealous if this story’s not about you. But back in the winter of ’78, I joined the Tennessee Volunteers and fought for General George Washington at Valley Forge.
Okay, it was 1978, Valley Forge was Hope Valley near Lake Tahoe, and General Washington was actually Peter Graves in the Universal Studios film called “The Rebels.”
I got hired along with 30 other unemployed ski bums to be an extra in a real Hollywood movie. We’d all lied to the producers and said we knew how to ride a horse and fire a musket. They’d lied to us, saying we would be treated well and not forced to stand outside in a blizzard all day dressed in rags.
Everyone was disappointed.
The director, clad in ski goggles and goose down jumpsuit, kept yelling at us to “look cold!” While the crew got their lunch, he let us huddle in what looked to be cozy log cabins with smoke coming out of chimneys. They were actually plywood facades with incense burners.
While huddled in the huts, we all shared whatever contraband we had brought. One guy, Gene, was really appreciative of what I was sharing. We got to talking and hit it off. Soon, we were defying authority together, sneaking back to the bus to stay warm while the others marched in the snow.
After three days of blizzard, the sun came out, and we extras got a wardrobe change. Instead of our rags, they gave us giant fur coats and hats. We were no longer soldiers. We were sheepherders bringing cannons to Fort Ticonderoga. Instead of freezing, we were sweating all over, except for our feet, which were freezing from the same leaky boots we had as starving soldiers the day before.
That’s when my new friend Gene and I went AWOL. We deserted the Army, skipped the rest of the filming and went skiing. Since then, we’ve skied over 100 days together and had many adventures. He was a groomsman in my wedding, and I was best man in his. We met in a blizzard, but we’ve enjoyed the warmth of friendship ever since.
My Wife Married Me Because I’m Weird
My wife and I planned to get married by an Armenian priest, in a traditional Armenian ceremony in an Armenian church. But first, we had to pass the test of “marriage counseling” by said priest, to determine if we would constitute a successful union.
In our first session together, the priest gave us each a questionnaire to fill out. It had dozens of questions about our attitudes on practical issues regarding money, sex, and child-rearing.
When we returned for the follow-up counseling, the priest chastised us for cheating. He accused us of copying our answers from each other instead of doing it individually.
We swore our innocence, but he insisted that we must have cheated since we answered two of the questions the exact same way.
For the questions “What do you like least about your partner?” and “What do you like most about your partner?” my wife had written the same two-word answer – “He’s weird.”
Weirdly, I had written exactly the same thing. We laughed hysterically, and soon the priest joined in, realizing how right we were about each other.
It’s been 26 years, and really, really weird. But amazing and cool too. Here’s wishing you some weirdness in your life…