Well, howdy there partner. Why don’t ya roll a chunk of log next to this here campfire and lend me an ear? I got a tale to tell ‘bout the roughest, toughest outlaw sheriff this side of the Sierras. Boy, I tell ya, he was a mean one. Sure, he was a bit of a midget, but that ain’t nothin’ to hold against a feller…
This post is about my mom’s ex-boyfriend, Jim, who may be the worst person I have ever met. If you told me that he crawled out of a cocoon after a mad scientist managed to breed a maggot with a rat, I would say, “That makes sense.”
Here’s how much I hated this guy: You know when someone consistently gets on your nerves and you think about hurting them? Whether it’s slapping them, punching them in the face or pushing their wheelchair into traffic. You cope by imagining doing something mean, BUT you never actually go through with it because it’s not right. Well, with Jim, I actually grabbed a butcher knife one night and was about to live out the dream. My rage was so high that stabbing him seemed morally right. My plans fell through, so no prison time for me. Here’s a question to ponder: who was God protecting that day?
Anyway, Jim wasn’t one of those average b-holes who acted relatively normal some of the time and then did something criminal/psychotic every once in awhile. When he was taking breaks from doing psychotic things, he was basically a toddler running around in what was technically an adult body with the freedom to do whatever the heck he wanted. For example, one day he decided he was just going to peel out in the driveway for 15 minutes. Yeah, he just sat there spinning the tires because he was angry. If you were watching TV, he would intentionally walk into the room and stand in front of the TV and pretend to watch it from two feet away. Or he would just come into the room whistling and clapping. Do me a favor. If you are living with someone and they are in the other room, stand up, and parade into that room while clapping and whistling loudly. Now do it 20 times a week for 9 years. After the 9 years are up, interview that person and ask them how much they hate you (if they’re still around).
I feel the need to let you know that he didn’t do these things because he was eccentric or quirky or just an idiot that didn’t know better. This was his way of being aggressive. Standing in front of the TV was his way of giving the middle finger and daring you to say something to him.
The other cool stuff he would do was glare at my siblings and I from the rearview mirror while he was driving. He would mumble about us under his breath ALL the time. One time I called his cat a “freak” because she was doing something stupid. From the other room, I heard him mumbling to himself, “Wanna call my cat a freak? You’re the $%^&#@ freak.” I was being called a freak by someone who could probably get a job with Ringling Brothers. Usually the mumbling was about how he wasn’t going to put up with us any more and that he was going to show us. Words of comfort. The best part was not being able to say anything about it. It was a warm environment to spend the last half of my so-called childhood in. I think I’ve reached my sarcasm quota for the year.
Anyway, now why is this post titled “Midget Cowboy?”
When my mom got with Jim, he was working in a ghost town as one of the characters that you wish would back off so you can enjoy yourself. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of person is drawn to that sort of job, the answer is “big time losers.” Jim mostly worked as a miner at the gold panning station, but once in awhile he got to put on his sheriff costume and regulate on some outlaws during a gunfight. If I could go back in time, I would sneak some real bullets into their guns. I don’t care if some innocent person got shot as long as it meant I would be free.
As a kid, I grew up a few blocks from the ghost town, but never got to go. Well, after my mom started dating Jim, I got to go 10 million times. Do you want to know how long it takes before a ghost town stops being fun? 37 minutes. “There’s the jail again. And there’s the fake graveyard and the fake buildings. Some chickens. An old jar. A bent tin can. A midget cowboy.”
Now, the other part of the title (midget) can be explained by telling you Jim’s height. He was approximately 5 foot. I’m 5’4 and I was a few inches taller than him. Although he wasn’t technically a midget (maybe a pygmy?), he had nubby fingers and toes. He liked to put a nubby finger in people’s faces as his way of letting them know he was boss. One time he got in my sister’s face (she was probably 13-14 at the time and taller than him). His entire demeanor was like he was going off on some other dude. He said to her, “What’re ya gonna do about it?” as if to say, “Ya gonna hit me? C’mon. We can do this right here.” The reason he got in her face was because she told him not to hit my brother. She had a lot of nerve saying that to a tough dude like him. She’s lucky he didn’t tan her hide and tell all his hombres about it down at the O.K. Corral. “Bartender, a whiskey, please.” Bartender says, “You look like you seen trouble.” Jim says, “Sure did. 13 year old girl tried to smart off to me cuz I hit her smart aleck first grader brother. Got in her face. Asked her what she gone do ’bout it. Clocked her a good one. She knows not to mess with me from now on.” Bartender hands him his drink and says, “Boy, you sure is one tough mean son of a buck. You probably the toughest dude in these parts.” Jim takes a drink of his whiskey, some of it sticks to his disgusting mustache. He slams down his glass and says, “Ya damn right I am.” I should write movies.
I should clarify that we never called him “Midget Cowboy.” We called him “Jim the Midget” (not to his face, only behind his back when we were trying to laugh the pain away). Anyway, here’s a nasty taste of what it was like living with a midget cowboy:
One time we went to Old Sacramento. If you don’t know what Old Sacramento is, it’s a place that looks like the 1800s. Jim put on his cowboy outfit and got into character. He probably thought he looked pretty awesome. He was deliberately making his cowboy boots go “click clomp” on the wooden walkways. “Look out, fellers! The sheriff’s in town!” At one point, my mom asked him a question (probably something like, “Do you want to check out this shop?”) and he says, “I reckon so” in this gristly cowboy voice. He deserved the death penalty just for doing that. Do you know how it feels to be seen in public with someone like this (especially when you’re a teenager)? If you were my friend back then and you’re wondering why I never invited you over…here’s the explanation.
If you were one of those kids that got to do fun stuff on the weekends (e.g. not partake in your mom’s boyfriend’s hobbies), then I kinda hate you. So while you were playing video games or watching TV Saturday morning, we got to drive around and find streams for Jim to gold pan in. Or go to western themed towns and look at old crap. Or hang out at the ghost town some more. We also got to listen to country music all the time. And not the good old stuff. The contemporary crap.
When I was in middle school, we drove past some train tracks that were in the center of the SMALL town we were living in. Jim says, “One day I’m going to put on my sheriff outfit and slowly walk those tracks.” At that moment, I imagined us, pulled over on the side of the road in our minivan, people I know driving by, and Jim walking down the train tracks like some munchkin Wyatt Earp. Then the next day at school I would hear my classmates say, “Hey, why were you hanging out with that midget cowboy? Was that your dad?” Then I would kill myself.
Speaking of classmates, another consequence of divorce is having to switch schools and move around a bunch. My dad decided to leave the small town we lived in and move back into the city where my mom and Jim already lived. So, my mom and Jim are living in a neighborhood with kids I now go to high school with. As the self-appointed sheriff of the neighborhood, Jim took it upon himself to keep tabs on everyone. He bought a bike with a spotlight and patrolled the neighborhood. One of my classmates came up to me and was like, “What’s up with your dad?” I couldn’t have corrected him any faster. Then I got that panicky feeling like, “Dear God, how many other people think that’s my dad?” My classmate told me that he was standing on the sidewalk near our house waiting for his friend and Jim yelled at him not to stand there. Cuz that’s Jim’s sidewalk, ya hear?! He said that Jim would ride by on his bicycle and just glare at him and his friends. I got to witness this firsthand when we were all in the car and Jim slowed down to stare down some of my classmates. Jim’s logic: “There’s a group of people on their own front lawns. Best glare at them menacingly so they know I’m the big man in the neighborhood.” I told that kid he could beat up Jim if he wanted. That kid also told me that Jim’s mustache looked like pubes.
Anyway, I could go on for 56 more paragraphs, but I have to stop somewhere. Consider this your introduction to Jim. Some future story topics:
Jim, Sometimes Hardcore Christian, Sometimes Mystical Warlock
Jim Will Kick Your Butt or Shoot You, Whichever’s Easiest
The Origins of Jim
Random Annoying Things Jim Did on a Regular Basis
Jim’s Ghostly Encounters
My Recurring Nightmares about Jim
and many more…