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An Ode To The Oddball In Every Group Of Friends

“Sometimes, there’s a man. Sometimes, there’s a man…”

That’s a line from national cinematic treasure The Big Lebowski. It’s referring to how, in just about every place and throughout every era in history, there is always an unheralded hero influencing change and reordering paradigms. Like Jeff Lebowski, there are countless misanthropes out there scattered across Mother Earth, plodding around in jellies, wreaking hapless chaos on the folks around him from behind the mirrored glare of bargain bin sunglasses.

He is, for all intents and purposes, a lunatic of the most harmless variety. His socks don’t match. He only drives on back roads and avoids, at all costs, interstate highways. He’s never been on an airplane. He’s one of eight children. Tinder has been charging him for swipes for the past several months.

Most importantly, this person is amongst you now.

He’s a staple of every group. Like the evening mist, he moves mysteriously and, to a large degree, unseen. His Irish exit is surpassed only by his Irish entrance. Why is this person still using a flip phone? Are those snap-off sweatpants? Where did he get Pizza Hut at 3:30 in the morning? At what point did the rest of us realize that his Christian name wasn’t actually Snakes? These are questions that need answering.

I have a friend like this.

He’s an urban legend. When I say that he is most definitely a crazy person, I don’t mean that to be pejorative. He is the purveyor of strange and amazing times and, as such, holds a special place in my heart. I also experience a very intense, very healthy sense of fear leading up to each occasion that we hang out.

This is due, in large part, to the fact that he’ll inevitably convince me to go with him to a bar that violates every health code known to man and sells country hams out of the back. We’ll then follow that up with a thirty-minute jaunt to a Taco Bell that, as he says it “still does Meximelts the right way.” We’ll then follow that up with one final, last call at a bar that magically is still open at 3 a.m. despite what the state of Virginia has to say about such things.

This, all on the tail end of a three-day stretch during which he hasn’t slept a wink — and not because he has insomnia or because he’s binged on uppers, but because he doesn’t sleep — he absorbs raw radiation from the sun and is essentially a fusion turbine, spewing particulates of oddity out into the air.

So, why do I join ranks with this person? Why do I keep him within my inner circle knowing full well that in twenty-five years, he’ll essentially be Gary Busey from Black Sheep?

Well, apart from the fact that having a friend who booby traps his school bus-house would be fucking awesome, I have an appreciation for the rare and the atypical. Every legitimate group of friends needs to be well-rounded, not just for posterity, but because that’s how you form a complete unit. And yes, variety is the spice of life.

The weird guy in the group? He’s the prism through which all of your misgivings and incidents of shitty decision-making can be seen all the clearer. I’ll sleep better knowing that he’s out there taking it easy, working odd-jobs, and winning gobs of money via Pick’em during football season so that the rest of us sinners can navigate the gauntlet that is corporate America.

Yes, there’s much we’ll have to reconcile in our own lives due to the token weird friend. There are many lessons to be learned from his undulating path through life, especially about the three years he spent in Thailand.

Seriously, what the fuck was he doing in Thailand for three years? We’ll likely never know.

I find comfort in knowing that I have this person in my life. This friend, whose life story resembles a drunken Muppets highlight reel, keeps me sane, even grounded. His life is one lived on the periphery, where thoughts of home equity loans, Subaru Foresters, and office politicking don’t exist. There’s freedom in this. It’s almost…almost pure, in a way.

So raise your glasses, you alpha dogs, Mavericks, Sack Lodges, and Otters all. Drink to your resident sketchball, who, in light of day or dark of night, splendid sunlight or driving snow, will never cease to bend the limits of reality. Pay homage to this agent of oddity, the one who is never, ever allowed within a thousand miles of your birthday itinerary, because not everyone likes hookers and even less of us want to end up stranded on the side of 395 on the bad side of DC.

Cheers to you, friend. May you dwell forever in the kingdom of snap-off sweatpants.

Image via Shutterstock

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McCracken

Defending Northern VA intercontinental bar sports champion.

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