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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Curious characters add color to campus

    The rush to class is a nightmare for all of us, particularly in the early afternoon. If you’re more than a few minutes off-schedule, you struggle to merge into the stampede of students heading to their next class, often colliding with someone walking in the opposite direction. The bicyclists worry about being late as they veer into the correct bike lane, but nonetheless brake in anticipation of the flock of aware and oblivious pedestrians.

    During these unfavorable parts of our day, it’s refreshing to encounter some of the peculiar characters of Tucson who indulge in their eccentricities while the rest of us constantly chase after a speeding train.

    At the UA, we spend so much time pushing through the campus crowds that we don’t take notice of the students and people who stand out. If we did, we’d make light of our stressful days and have a bizarre, humorous story to tell as well as a cheerful disposition on everything.

    Though we know they’re out there, we don’t recognize the restorative effect they can have on our campus community. If the eclectic homeless or the self-proclaimed eccentrics are happy enough to freely express themselves, we can certainly enable ourselves to slow down and enjoy our lives more than we think we can despite all of our responsibilities. Rather than get lost in a sea of emotionally shut off, drained faces, we get a break from the anxieties of college life when we find someone doing something unusual on campus. At first glance, some of us may instinctively feel that these people are creepy or potentially dangerous, but on our campus, they seem mostly harmless.

    Some of you may be familiar with the silver-helmet-wearing man who frequents University Boulevard and occasionally the Student Union Memorial Center. With several paint palette magnets and other sequined objects decorating his outfit, this man makes his presence known as he sits in his parked car near Espresso Art. Upon placing a few red triangles atop the hood “”so other cars can see (his) car,”” the man sits in the front seat of his ostentatious vehicle as a cacophony of classical music bursts through the rolled down windows.

    As unapproachable as he may seem in a locked car, this man has a lot of personality and seems to love engaging with others about his unique habits. As you may have gathered, one of the main reasons he dons such loud attire is to draw the attention of Tucsonans. Though he was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, the man spent the majority of his life in Tucson and repeatedly recollected what it used to be like.

    “”I like standing out so everyone will know me. Tucson feels smaller that way, like it was in the past.””

    Throughout our 10-minute conversation, the man never stopped smiling and actually thanked me for my curiosity. As friendly and welcoming as he may be, such candor cannot be expected from all goofy, outrageous and noticeable characters in Tucson. Luckily, UA students generally seem to respond positively to these types, regardless of what their interactions with other people are like.

    There’s another peculiar Tucsonan who enjoys dancing around the UA campus just for the sake of filling his day. As he springs off his feet and steadies his raised arm with the grace of a ballerina, students maneuver past him to climb the short flight of stairs into the Modern Languages building, often suppressing their laughter and averting their eyes in the process. Like the helmet man on University, this guy wears a smile as he leaps around the open space around him.

    When asked what he was up to, the young man terminated his routine and said, “”Simply passing the time away.””

    Turning away from the building, he said, “”Have a wonderful day”” before speed walking parallel to the bike line. Once he set foot on the UA Mall, he began hopping toward the library, likely to stake out more dancing ground. He may not be open about his favorite way to kill time, but he must expect such reactions and questions from others as he effusively tosses himself around in the air.

    Though mysterious and inscrutable from afar, these distinct characters color and inspire the UA campus with their free spirit, zest for life and courage to be completely different from anyone else.

    – Laura Donovan is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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