It’s spring, so a young man’s fancy turns to, well, his urges. I’m no different.
Well, maybe a little bit. See, my urges don’t necessarily center on Miss Arizona in her new revealing spring wardrobe, or even the crack of a bat on a pristine baseball field. No, most of my urges focus on really obnoxious behavior I’m just dying to try.
For instance, I often feel the desire to go into a store and purchase a ski mask and shotgun at the same time. I just imagine the expressions of those around me as I put on the ski mask, hold the shotgun with my best Rambo pose and check myself out in the dressing mirror. To really add some spice to my actions, I could casually turn to the clerk and ask where they keep the duffel bags and chain saws.
See where I’m heading with this?
It’s the overwhelming desire to shock others that really gets my engine going every morning. Oh, it doesn’t always manifest itself in fantasies of criminal behavior, but it does consistently come back to the intense impulse to catch people off guard. It can be a random compliment to somebody who didn’t expect it, sticking my tongue out at the kids in the back window of the school bus in front of me at a traffic light or just randomly flipping papers off Susan Lyons’ desk while she’s on the phone with someone.
If it gets a reaction, I’m usually pretty satisfied.
Perhaps that’s why I have always had a secret little love affair with writing my column every week. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing that compares to a great news story coming down the pike — making sure all the sources we need have been contacted and re-reading sentences to make sure there is little ambiguity and the message is clear to the readers. And I always get a rush when one of my reporters gets an opportunity to spread his or her wings somewhere else after we’ve given them all the training we can.
But I really do like making people say, “He wrote that?!”
The fact of the matter is that I’d love to possess the courage to actually do some of the things I daydream about. My problem is that I’m somewhat of an introvert in public, so the majority of my shocking thoughts stay right in my head, never being able to be put into motion.
For instance, I’d love to be standing in line at the bank one day when the armored truck guy came in. I’d just walk up to him, glance at my watch and say, “Usually you’re here four minutes earlier today. Is this a new schedule, or are you just running late?”
Think that would cause a reaction?
It’s a twisted place, this skull of mine. There was a day last week when I was poking around the mall in Salisbury, trying to kill time without killing my credit card, when I saw an elderly couple walking down the hallway holding hands. They were talking softly and smiling and it was just a beautiful image of lasting love.
Yet all I could think about was walking right up to the man and saying, “Dad? I hardly recognized you! Man, you’ve really made yourself scarce since that night you met my mom at one of your business conferences. But don’t think me or my sister will ever forget your financial contributions over the years. Well, you take care.”
And then I’d leave them, a trail of giggles in my wake.
But I just can’t ever pull the trigger and actually do it. It can’t be an attack of conscience because ... well, I don’t really have one. Decency? Again, I’m doubting that, as well. I’m a McCann. Our sense of decency was pretty much eliminated the first time one of my relatives got run out of County Armagh for stealing pigs. It’s actually kind of scary that I had to reference “the first time” with that last sentence. You’d think we’d learn over time that pigs are not ours just because we see them in plain view and like bacon, but ...
But I digress.
So, I guess it’s a sense of accepted social standards that prevents me from heckling 6-year-olds walking on the boardwalk or filling people’s half-empty beer bottles with iced tea when they get up to use the rest room at bars. I realize that it’s not acceptable for me to leave a treasure map as a tip when I dine out, and I know that I have to resist my desire to just start screaming profanities at random people I find in the phone book and ending with, “My name is Mark Hardt, and I think you’re a moron. If you don’t like it, look me up in the phone book and come talk to me.”
Of course, I might think it from time to time.