I'm at Ryland Park in San Jose, doing my usual one-man practice/sprint session that consists of drilling 100 three-pointers at opposite ends of the court, sprinting to the other end after every two or three—this is crucial to the story.
About 75 threes in, a guy walks up wanting a one-on-one. I politely declined. I'm not even sure what happened next, but somehow the topic of my Reduction (fitness efforts) came up. This triggered something in "Hank", who proceeded to follow me end-to-end of the court going on...and on...and on about some pills/vitamins he takes as a supplement. Along the way, he explains he "used to be on drugs but is clean now."
"How long you been clean?" I ask between shots. His answer? Not a few years...or months...or weeks. "Nine days," he says proudly. I want to point out that you can't really go around bragging about being "clean" when there's still crap in your damn system...but he was on a roll, proceeding to even roll up his sleeves to show dozens of healed junkie marks. Mind you, I've known this man all of five minutes at this point; we haven't even shared names.
Additionally, though I tried to feign interest and carry a conversation with Hank, he isn't really listening to anything I say and talks right through me much of the time—nine days or nine minutes, dude? I pray to complete the final 25 threes of my workout so I can get the hell out of there, but my shot begins to tank amid the distraction and I'm stuck in the 80's for about 10 full, painful minutes—Hank shadowing my every step.
Ultimately, after suggesting like a half-dozen hiking spots—like I'm going to remember them all—Hank ends up leaving before I do without having shot a single hoop of his own (he had his own ball to do so, mind you...what did he show up planning to do??)
I'm on a grocery walk. The route I use takes me across the road my complex is on, then down another that leads away.
The gated parking lot for said complex, if the person is positioned right, allows views all the way up the street I was using. This layout left me exposed to arguably the oddest, most puzzling question I've ever been asked.
A little setup: the 2nd-floor unit near my parking space in the lot houses a guy we call "Bruh Man", after the legendary character from Martin—he's got all the characteristics and even the voice to match, and like original Bruh Man, you wonder if the guy is from Mars. Not only would you not be surprised to wake up and find this guy in your kitchen...you'd almost expect it.
This "Bruh Man" and I have exchanged occasional chit-chat—he spends many of his days on his balcony, talking up any neighbors who may pass below. He doesn't seem like a bad guy, just...unique, like his fictional namesake. "Hey, big man! How it do?" he'll call down to me. I'll always respond politely.
On this day—as I'd already began to head up the road—the familiar voice called out.
"Hey, BIG MAN?"
No way could he be calling out to me, some 300 feet away. Even if he could see me clearly enough at that distance...what could he possibly want with me?
I checked behind me, both checking to confirm I'm the big man he's calling, and also to check the ground behind me—maybe Bruh Man saw me drop something. (There was nothing.)
Moving back in the direction of Bruh Man's balcony—which, again, is across both a street and a parking lot adding up to about 300 feet in distance—he calls again. This time I affix my eyes on him and point to myself as if to say, "Me?"
Now that he has my attention, Bruh Man relays his question:
"Hey Big Man...got any dope?"
Since not all TSR visitors have met me, it should be said that there is not—and never has been—anything about me that suggests I use dope. Because I don't use dope. I've never used dope. (I know; yawn) No judgment against anyone who does, but I don't like the stuff and don't pretend otherwise. In precisely zero of the half-dozen or so exchanges I'd had with Bruh Man did dope come up. At no time was I smoking dope, selling dope, smelling of dope or speaking out in support of dope.
My reply: "Nope. Sorry."
Only in Bruh Man's mind could hollering 300 feet across a primary street to a man you're barely acquainted with (and whose name you don't know) in search of an illegal substance during the middle of the afternoon sound like a good idea.
Follow-up: Bruh Man disappeared for three solid months after this encounter, leading me to believe he cried out for dope one time too many and the wrong person(s) heard him and shipped him off.
I'm in the 707, warming up alone at Shenandoah Park, when a young man (22-ish) and his equally-young female companion walked up. He wanted to shoot around with me; she wanted to be anywhere else. I obliged the guy.
Judging by his moves and athletic build, the guy could play the game—but on this morning, he couldn't make a hoop from anywhere to save his life.
Clank! Clank! Clank! He grew more and more frustrated, blaming his struggles on rust and repeatedly stating he'd do better in a real game—hinting he wanted a one-on-one with me. I wasn't going to volunteer, but I would have played him had he challenged me...which he never did.
As I continued to nail about 50% of my shots, he continued to brick about 80% of his until finally, at his breaking point, he all but forced his girlfriend to shoot around as well. This girl was tall (about 5'10" or slightly more) and spoke of once being on a team, but in this moment she did not want to play. However, her guy took the choice away from her. It was almost like he needed to see her outbrick him to restore his confidence.
The guy instructed her where to shoot from, spots where she had zero chance of sinking one. At first—as one might expect—she was awful. Then she sank a couple as he continued to brick. Next thing I know they'd walked off the court without so much as a goodbye or thanks—on his command, no doubt—embroiled in an argument.
This takes place during a visit to mom's; she wanted to cash a check today but the bank was not open, so I offered to run her over to our local check-cashing center. Armed with a TIME magazine, I waited in the car while she handled business.
It was a warm day, so my window was down—a mistake in retrospect.
A minute into my reading, "Kenny"—a stout, beanied black man who'd been standing against the wall, approached my window. His attire and manner of speaking would have alarmed an older person unfamiliar with urban folk, but to me he was just some dude about to ask for a handout.
KENNY: Hey, what up man?
ME: What's up?
At this point I realized Kenny—who somewhat resembled the braided edition of the NBA's Derrick Williams—was under the influence of something. His gaze was vacant, and he didn't appear solid on his feet. He didn't answer me right away, so finally I said...
ME: I don't have any money for you, sir.
KENNY: Oh, no, no, no, man, I wasn't gon' ask you for that, I uh...um...I....um....
Kenny trailed off, then gradually stopped moving altogether, almost as if he fell asleep mid-sentence. Having already lost close to 30 seconds of my reading time, I decided to put an end to...whatever this was.
ME: I'm gonna go back to my magazine now. Take care.
With that, my eyes and focus went from Kenny back to my TIME. What happened next is 100% true, I swear on everyone and everything that matters to me.
Kenny absorbed my comment for a beat, then turned back toward his spot, confusedly muttering "...Michael Jackson..." on the way.
Later, after filling in my top dawg Chicken about the encounter (and laughing about it for 10 minutes), we came to this conclusion: because I was not reading about or listening to Michael Jackson to trigger such a comment, Kenny must have thought I was Michael Jackson and had come over for an autograph. Disappointed after being dismissed, he likely went home and smashed up his Thriller and Bad albums, as well as any other MJ memorabilia he owned.
If you're reading this, Kenny: I'm genuinely sorry. If I'd known you thought I was Michael Jackson—and how could you not, we're practically TWINS—I'd have given you an autograph and a little concert. Hey, Leon Kompowsky pulled it off!
This one qualifies as public by only a few feet; I'm headed up my stairs from a couple hours of hoops. I'm still wearing a sweatband, my clothes are soaked, and a basketball is in my arm. A neighbor known for his 420 habit spots me and makes the following statement:
"You be ballin', huh, G?"
Nothing, and I mean nothing gets past this dude! Let's see: guy comes home in sweaty athletic outfit holding a basketball, and based on those observations alone, he was able to figure out said guy plays basketball. Hey—you reading this, FBI? Don't let this talent slip through your fingers; I'll point you his way! Follow the trail of smoke!
Sometimes, the public accosting begins innocently enough...then violently swerves into a puzzling direction.
I'm in line at the discount store with dear daughter Josie, who's about 2½ at the time. Behind me, a seemingly harmless woman of about 50 takes her place in line behind me (accidentally banging my shopping cart).
As would happen far too often during my kid's toddler years, Josie's beauty led to, well, verbal violation.
MAUDE: She treasures you.
ME: Yes, she does.
MAUDE:...is she yours?
ME (thinking): No, I just go around holding random kids for fun.
ME: Yes, she is.
MAUDE: She's beautiful.
ME: (trying to disengage) Mmm-hmm.
MAUDE: You know, I grew up in Africa, and they take such good care of their own. They are so generous.
ME: Okay. (At this point I'm really trying to tune this kooky chick out.)
MAUDE:...Do you plan on giving her a good education?
(That gave new meaning to the word "random", but I distinctly felt this question was pointed, and that an answer of "no" would earn me a visit from the authorities.)
ME: She's not even three. I'm just trying to get through this weekend.
Maude continued on about whatever, which motivated me to do something I'd never done before or since—turn my back and refuse to acknowledge another syllable. No matter how much I dread public interaction—loads, BTW—I will be polite to literally everyone until/unless they prove themselves unworthy.
But I'd had enough of this chick's faulty wiring fairly quickly. I think Maude honestly meant well in her mind, but when the overwhelming majority or your socializing is done with cats (as I strongly suspected), your human interaction skillz suffer. She eventually rambled into a point only she heard, and my final minute in line expired in peace.