Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Peter Popper Pan

I have been trying to come up with something great for my next publishable article. I'm in love with the idea of basing a story around a local San Diego eccentric. I like the idea of writing about someone with a unique view of life.

I've always enjoyed the obscure. I love local characters and anything kitschy. When I was a kid we had only a few neighborhood eccentrics that stuck out amongst the everday station wagon driving citizens. We had Phil beep-beep, which was by far the most insensitive name that the kids of my small town taunted him with. Phil suffered, I think, from brain damage after being hit by a car, at least that was the rumor. He was in his 40's and lived with his parents in an old Victorian home near the train tracks. He cruised around town on a vintage bike and always wore tattered suits. Sometimes the meanest kids would scream Beep Beep at him. He would lose it completely and almost always fly into a rage. He nearly kicked the ass of an 8-year-old boy one day.

We also had Julie, a chain smoking older woman who always wore a scarf over her cropped curly brown hair. She attended my family’s catholic church. She always arrived to mass late reeking like a pack of cigarettes. I prayed each Sunday that she wouldn't sit next to me. Her unpredictability and wide range of emotions plus her habit of talking to herself scared the shit out of me. To my utter terror sometimes she would squeeze into our pew. She was prone to inappropriate outbursts and would occasionally grab onto the hand of whoever sat near her. She once scratched me with her unusually sharp finger nails.

Lastly, we had Valerie boom boom. She lived across the street from my junior high school best friend. She was in her mid-twenties and would wear stilettoes and bikinis to water her plants, and mow the grass. She had brassy blonde hair and enormous boobs. She was unlike the local moms that always wore knee length skirts, buns, and pearls. She was married to an older man--in his late 50's or early 60's. We taunted her mercilessly. Anytime she came outside we would scream boom boom. We were assholes. I wish i could teleport back in time to apologize to Valerie Boom Boom who I am certain was not only taunted by the kids but by the moms as well.

San Diego has a few eccentrics. When we lived in El Cajon there were tons of unique individuals. Tierrasanta is limited. There is an elderly man that walks his poodle around our neighborhood dressed in Jimmy Stewart style clothing, and another guy that walks around town with a belly length beard. He wears suspenders. Boring. I know. My community is lacking a soul. Maybe it has something to do with the cookie cutter quality of our homes?

However, near my kid’s school I frequently come across a car that is completely covered in miniature angels. Atop the car sits elaborate castles and Christmas lights. Behind it, is towed a wooden boat purely for decorative purposes. I have been dying to meet the owner of this car. A mom at school told me that he lives across the street from a nearby park. Nearly everyday for a week I drove down that street in hopes of running into him. No luck.

Two days ago I stopped at CVS to use a gift card I received. Lo and behold there was the van in all its glory. I pulled up next to it and waited. Within the time span of ten minutes 4 people had either posed in front of it for a photo, or gotten out of their cars to get a closer look.

Finally across the parking lot I spotted the owner. I knew beyond a doubt that it was him. He was pushing a shopping cart that a large green parrot was perched upon. To make the story even better, he was dressed in pirate garb. I just about passed out from excitement.

When he got closer I noticed that his long hair was unkempt and that his clothes were covered in dirt and bird poop. Also he was speaking to his parrot as if it were a person. I wasn't sure if I should approach him. I did anyway.

I'm glad I did because Jerry, or as he likes to be called, Peter Popper Pan, is pretty amazing. He is an optimist which is rare to find ina man living out of his car. I'm certain that his story is worth telling and I cannot wait to get started!


Nicole said...

This is awesome! I can't wait to read about him. Is he letting you interview him?

Siobhan said...

yep, he's really excited about it. I'm hoping that it will get published and open some doors for him. He's a really cool guy.