My last blog was about West Virginia being accredited with the "neurotic" tag. This one will be a rare continuation or Part 2. You may refer to it as the "neurotic extension."
So here's the deal. About 20% of the adults in this town simply DO NOT TALK. They have the ability to speak, but they voluntarily choose not to do so. I might be overstating the phenomena. Let's go this rout. 15% prefer not to talk. What I mean by this... they'll only talk about shit they're comfortable with. They usually stick to fantasy football, country music (Jamboree), work and the kids. They also might talk about the vacation they took to Myrtle Beach. But other than that... you won't be having a spirited debate about foreign policy or Obamacare. These people just don't willingly open their mouths. Unless it's to eat mediocre pizza and yummy macaroni salad.
Somewhere around 4% are trending dangerously toward being a complete mute. They are mostly men who got Forrest Gumped when they were little kids. By that I mean --- in second grade, some teacher probably told them "You're a stupid idiot who needs to shut up." Needless to say, they ran with the advice and haven't spoken since.
And around 1% simply cannot communicate (complete recluse/shut-in, coma/vegetative state, etc.).
Now here's a little background on the bar scene in Wheeling. It's often comprised of these guys I'd call "miscellaneous shifty loners types." They're usually in the 25-35 age bracket. Most people go to bars to socialize. Not these ones. They sit and stoically stare at the widescreen. Occasionally, they'll clap their hands when the Penguins score a goal. Sometimes, they'll mutter, "fuck yeah" if there's a touchdown. Other than that, they just sit or stand in complete silence and drink their Bud Ice. Every once in a blue moon, their eyes will shift and take notice of some cleavage or woman's ass. But even that is the exception, not the rule.
So here's where I'm going with this. Last night was Halloween in Wheeling. I went down to Tony and Cleo's for a few beers on the early side (9-10:30ish). They were having their annual Spooktacular Rockamatic concert (Tongue 'n Cheek and Old Buddy Jack). This is always a costume-oriented event. I think they give away a few hundred bucks worth of prizes --- Domino's Pizza, lava lamps, car wash gift certificates (they should really call them "truck wash" gift certificates - it's a better sell 'round deez parts).
Like I was saying. I went out on the early side to chit chat with DBV (obligatory shout-out!). Other than that - I generally bail early on - mostly due to the obtrusive volume and an overwhelming frustration with the local human population whom I find increasingly less interesting and particularly non-amusing.
So here's my point. Remember, it was early in the evening. This is when the aforementioned, non-speaking loner types tend to gather. But last night was different from all other nights. Why you ask? Was it the fucking Passover Seder? Uh... no. It was Halloween. This is when the freaks come out at night.
Like I was saying, it's Halloween. So naturally, many people go to great lengths when designing or purchasing their costumes. And some were wearing complete masks or disguising their faces with monster sunglasses, warrior make-up, fake Duck Dynasty beard, porn mustache, etc.
Now you would naturally assume that people who undertake all this effort would want to talk about their costume: engage in a set routine, explain the costume or even do a little bit of role-playing. Think again, asshole! Remember, these are the "mysterious" loner types. They do nothing, they say nothing, they are nothing.
So here's why it made for a truly bizarre evening. This particular bar notoriously appeals to the older bracket (40 to 60 year range). Many of its regular patrons seem to have these alter ego personalities. They'll try to impress you with tales of greatness (I'm an oil baron... I'm best friends with Ben Roethlisberger... I own an island in the Caribbean, etc.).
Now let's put it all together. There's just this bizarre, forced merging of behavioral anomalies. You've got the non-responsive, muted-masked weirdos walking around AND they're slowly being infiltrated by the "extravagant wannabe pseudo-braggadocios." So you've got these polyester-suited, older men who are desperately trying impress. They'll be incessantly yapping about how they just cornered the platinum market. But they're talking to the non-interactive zombie dude who is perfectly willing to just stand and absorb the whole conversation.
When you glance around the bar and see multiple, simultaneous examples of these scenarios playing themselves out. Well, it's honestly quite terrifying. All in all, it makes for some scary behavior in Wheeling, WV.
Also scary in Wheeling - the same shit was probably happening 3 miles down the road at TJ's.
One last thought. Usually I do have a costume. I normally try and shoot for more of a theme or an idea. Considering that the recurring Washington Redskins name controversy is back in the news, I should have gone with my Indian/Jewish businessman alter ego personality... SCALPING JEW. Fortunately, there's still time! Halloween ain't til later in the week.
Then again, it could make the muted-silent fucks feel uncomfortable. Wouldn't want to rock the boat (or in this case... canoe).