Jenkins: Trust me, fact really is stranger than fiction

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

I've seen a lot of strange things lately, and I'm not just talking about Nancy Pelosi's attempts to smile.

Which leaves me wondering: Is there really more weirdness going on in the world these days, or am I just noticing it more? I'm leaning toward the former.

After all, we have a military that commissions jihadists in its own ranks while fighting jihadists abroad. A president who was nominated for a Nobel Prize after 12 days in office. Georgia Tech in the Top 10.

If none of those strikes you as unusual, consider the following:

* The other day I saw a guy walking down the side of Braselton Highway carrying a large street sign over his shoulder, the way a soldier carries a rifle.

If he'd been dressed like a county employee, I might not have thought anything about it, but he was just your average 20-something slacker. He looked as if he had just uprooted the sign and was nonchalantly making off with it.

On second thought, maybe he was a county employee.

* Lately, every time I turn on the car radio, Led Zeppelin is playing. Every time. It's gotten creepy, to the point where I've started to wonder if it might be some sort of message. I just can't get my mind around the idea of God speaking to me through Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd, maybe, but not Led Zeppelin.

* There's a middle-aged gentleman in my neighborhood who dresses like a teenage gangster, complete with baggy jeans and stocking cap, and walks a toy poodle in a little pink sweater. The poodle, not the man.

* Sitting in line to pick up my son from middle school the other day, I noticed the SUV in front of me had a window sticker depicting a mom, a dad, two kids and an elephant. The caption underneath read, "The Fine Family."

I concluded that the SUV owner must be named Fine and have two children. What the elephant had to do with anything, I wasn't sure. Perhaps they're Democrats?

A few days later, I noticed the same sticker on a minivan. Then on another SUV. And another.

Will somebody please tell me what's going on? There can't be that many Democrats named Fine in Gwinnett County.

* A popular car insurance commercial features a short, pudgy guy carrying something that looks like a purse. When asked about it, he replies that it's a "European carryall," then rolls his eyes toward his slender, attractive wife as if to say, "She bought it for me."

I've long been aware of Hollywood's (and Madison Avenue's) ongoing attempts to emasculate the American male, but has it really come to this? A guy who carries a purse and can't buy car insurance without his wife's OK?

And do you suppose there's any chance his last name is Fine?

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.