Austin’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” So far, in just over three months here, I haven’t exactly found much weird about the city, but then again I have been living in far north Austin, not the hopping downtown area, the hipster South Austin, or the trendy Hyde Park neighborhood. North Austin sure seems pretty normal. Then something that can only be described as “weird” finally happened.
Last night I was outside standing with Baxter in the apartment parking lot, letting him do his business as usual, when an athletic man in his early thirties approached me with his larger dog. The man introduced himself as Michael and suggested the two dogs play together, and play they did. Baxter enjoys attacking larger dogs very fearlessly, and was antagonizing this other dog relentlessly, and in the process managed to get me, Michael, the other dog, and trees all tangled up in his leash. At this point, my trip outside seemed like nothing more than a friendly run-in with a new neighbor.
Moments later, a college-aged Asian girl wearing a Hello Kitty backpack approached us on the lawn and cried “Can you help me?” Michael thought she was saying “Are you happy” and replied several times, “Yes, I’m happy. Thank you.” She continued to beckon for help. Eventually we understood that she was saying “Can you help me?” and listened to her. “My wallet is missing and I need to get back to UT, and I am oh-so-very hungry!” she exclaimed. I wanted no part in this and attempted to keep watch on the dogs while Michael handled the situation. “Let’s assess this problem,” he said. “You are hungry and need to get to UT, what is the best solution?” “I need $20! I come back and pay you tomorrow!” cried the Asian girl, attempting to force tears. Michael refused to give this stranger $20. “I don’t trust you,” he said. “But come with me to my apartment and I’ll make you dinner and drive you to campus.” She again refused, crying and pleading for $20 cash. The two went back and forth several more times with various propositions but the girl stood pat on her demands for the cash. Michael again refused and returned to me and the dogs. The girl dejectedly got the point and began walking away.
Not long after, the girl approached a slightly older woman who was walking to her car with her two smaller children nearby. The girl pleaded her case, and the mother reluctantly agreed to drive this girl to Central Market and buy her groceries. The Asian girl got into the car with the woman and her children, and just before the woman drove off, the woman stopped near me and Michael and the dogs in the lawn and yelled, “if anything happens this is all your fault! I’ll come back for you!” We were like “What? We don’t know this girl. How are we involved?” What had this Asian girl told this woman? Michael suggested she not give a ride to this stranger especially with her children in the car. This led to a long conversation between the woman and Michael while the three passengers sat in the backseat. Again, I stayed out of it and just watched Baxter continue to terrorize his new playmate.
As if this wasn’t an odd enough situation, things got weirder. I tuned back into the conversation and Michael was now leaning on the woman’s car, smiling and chatting. “Yeah, I dig Russian food… Sure, 8:00 sounds great! Yeah, I’m looking forward to it too.” This conversation ended with a very passionate kiss. The woman got back in her car and drove away with the weird Asian girl and her two small kids. Michael came back over and was like “Dude, this is the third time in four days I’ve been asked out by a woman in this complex! What do you think the reason could be?” He looked at me and waited for me to answer. “Uh… maybe your facial hair is turning them on?” I said. “Yeah, yeah, cause I got like this 5:00 shadow unkempt thing going on, yeah I bet you’re right, the ladies dig that… what else?” he asked, again waiting for a reply. “Um… it just turned October, maybe it’s your lucky month?” I suggested. “Oh you’re totally right, I better check my horoscope!” he said. Then he invited me to go over to another patch of grass nearby where we could let the dogs off their leashes and they could continue playing. I declined and took Baxter back to the apartment.
And that was my weird 20 minutes on the High Oaks lawn.