The Queen Of Weird

Sometimes I feel like the Queen of Weird. Things that never happen to others inevitably happen to me.

For a few years now, I’ve been receiving text messages from a group of people I don’t know. They are obviously friends with each other, which makes it odd that my phone number made it into their group. Regardless of how it came to be, here I am, a complete stranger, privy to all their closed conversations.

Have you ever eves dropped without intending to? That’s what happens every time my phone chimes indicating that I’ve received a new text. Sometimes this message truly is intended for me, but at other times it’s from someone in this group of strangers.

I must say, they sound like interesting people. Their ongoing conversations go something like this:

“Hey. I have a week off next month. Thinking about flying to Nashville or something. Anyone game?”

“Sure,” comes a reply. “What dates? I’ll check.”

“Nashville? How about Vegas?”

“Been there, done that. Thinking about someplace new.”

“Third week? Works for me.”

“Me, too. I’ll book my flight.”

“Anyone find good rates?”

“This time of year? You’re crazy.”

That’s a typical conversation when they are planning their get-away. Then there are the ones when they start arriving at their destination.

“Just landed. Where are you guys?”

“At the hotel. Traffic is a bear so it may take you awhile to get here.”

“Got it. On our way.”

I disliked receiving these texts for two reasons. Maybe three. First of all, do you have any idea how many texts a group can make trying to arrange a vacation that works for everyone? Not to mention how many it takes for them to find each other once they arrive at their destination? I’m afraid my phone will over heat with all the chiming.

Secondly, they are vacationing in Nashville in March and I’m watching the snow cocoon me in once again here in Michigan. I’m jealous, pure and simple.

Thirdly, it’s creepy. I’m uncomfortable knowing intimate details about people I don’t even know.

So, on one particular snowy spring day when I had just had it with all their merry-making while I was buried under a foot of snow, I decided to put an end to it. Their endless texts to each other and the inevitable chiming on my phone were driving me crazy. So, I texted them. “Hey, guys. You sound like you’re having a lot of fun, but you don’t know me and yet I know where you are and what you’re doing. So, for the comfort of all of us, would you please delete my number from your group?”

Their surprised responses came immediately.

“Who are you?”

“Who’s that?”

“Do I know you?”

“That’s my point,” I wrote back. You don’t know me and I don’t know you so please get me out of your group. I’ve tried from my end with no luck so maybe you can do something from your end.”

One of them said they’d try. Another one invited me to join them in Nashville!

My point is this: This conversation thread had annoyed me for years. But when I finally took action to do something about it, I discovered that they were a very nice group of people and I actually enjoyed the back and forth banter I had become a part of.

We never figured out how my number made it into their group. They did tell me, however, that a friend of theirs, an NFL football quarterback who I knew of because I had met his parents and brother at my church, was always left out of the thread while I was included. He and I both had Jacksonville phone numbers since we lived there around the same time, but other than that we couldn’t figure out the connection. We may never know how it all came to be, but what I did find out is that I actually liked being a part of their group once I started communicating with them.

When someone finally found a way to remove me from the group, or perhaps they just started a new thread, I was sad. I knew an awesome group of people were in Nashville, Tennessee, having a wonderful time together, but I no longer knew what they were doing. I felt left out.

Isn’t that the way it is with much of our lives? What irritates us for years, when given a chance, actually proves to be an opportunity. And once that opportunity is gone, we’re left feeling sad and full of regrets. We don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone.

It also proves something else. I am still the Queen of Weird.

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Dorsal Fin Alert

I was treading water off the coast of Honeymoon Island Beach, Florida when two dorsal fins off to the right caught my eye. They were swimming parallel to shore a few yards from me. I froze.

Carefully slipping my air mattress between them and me (yeah, like that’s really going to help), I headed for shore. As a Floridian, I knew better than to frantically swim – churning water excites sharks, reminding them of injured fish ripe for the picking. I also knew enough not to jump on my air mattress and paddle. I would then resemble a turtle and sharks love turtles. Becoming a tasty afternoon snack was exactly what I was trying to avoid!

In the split second I had to decide my best course of action, I knew the safest route would be to slide onto my air mattress and lie absolutely still. I also knew I couldn’t do it.

So, I continued walking toward shore as calmly as possible, trailing my mattress behind me. Noticing me, my two unwanted guests changed direction and headed directly for me. I cried out, “God protect me! God protect me! God protect me!”

Not more than a body’s length from me at that point, I thought, There go my legs. It was nice having them. I’ll miss them.

Then, just as quickly as before, the would be predators changed course and headed north.

As they left me behind, I realized with regret that they weren’t sharks, but dolphins! I had it within my reach to touch them and because of fear, I missed a once in a lifetime experience. How sweet would it have been to touch two dolphins in the wild?

I will never know because fear clouded my vision when I should have stayed still and observed the signs – straight, pointed dorsal fins for sharks, slanted, curved dorsal fins for dolphins; vertical tails swishing back and forth for sharks, horizontal tails flipping up and down for dolphins; gills on sharks (because they are fish), no gills on dolphins (because they are mammals). Granted, some of these signs would not be easily seen while the creatures were under water, but still, a little attention to detail would have been helpful.

So, then I thought, How many times in the circumstances of my life have I seen sharks when God sent dolphins? How many blessings have I missed while blind-sided by fear? I may never know. But, of this I am certain: From now on, I’m looking for dolphins!