Friday, January 20, 2006

Need for Novelty

“Where’s the bookstore operated by the ‘colorful’ guy?” The ladies in the visitor’s center knew immediately to whom I was referring. One began to show us on a map and the other searched for a news article containing his photo. “He’s very intelligent” one said. “He and his wife have a memorial in the town park. It’s in memory of their daughter who died at age twelve.” We got directions to the park and asked a few more questions.

Following their directions, we walked down the street, across two sandy washes, turned right at the rusty metal building with boarded windows and found the bookstore. It was packed with old books, new books, CDs, customers, narrow aisles and had a canvas tarp for a roof in one section.

He was helping customers, all of whom where fifty to eighty years old. He was tanned, thin and slightly stooped. He was dressed as I expected – sandals, a straw hat, a royal blue velvet pouch and nothing else. I watched the eyes of the customers and no one appeared to notice that he was nude – uh, almost nude. I turned to Julie and said “Well?” and she replied “Looks like a piece of jerky”. Yes, too much sun will do that.

I have a strong need for novelty. Dictionaries use words such as “new, unusual, different, refreshing, surprising and original” to define novelty. I enjoy meeting unusual people, searching for oddities in nature and having new experiences.

Julie and I visited Quartzsite, Arizona last weekend in a search for novelty. Quartzsite has a summer population of 3,350 and a peak winter population of 250,000 with estimates of one million visitors staying for varying lengths of time. The desert around the town is sprinkled with RVs – motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels and some strange conversions of buses and panel trucks. The town is filled with temporary booths selling rocks, gems, jewelry, RV parts, food, clothing, groceries, western and native American souvenirs, tools, kitchen utensils, and much more.

In addition to the bookstore, we browsed a few booths and marveled at rocks, gems and fossils from all parts of the world. On another trip I saw a fossilized dinosaur nest with eggs that had a price tag of $18,000. On this trip I saw polished slices of stone from Australia that were unlike any I’ve ever seen.

The most interesting people I saw where with dogs – men, large men, carrying small, very small, lap dogs in cloth carriers suspended from their necks, women leading dogs wearing caps, scarves, boots and various other pieces of dog clothing, a couple on a moped with a crate mounted on back that contained two white poodles with red bows.

After getting a bite to eat, we drove south in search of the Magic Circle which is a section of a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) long term visitor area. I assumed the Magic Circle would be on a back section of the camping area so we drove past many campers before we encountered a sign that said “beyond this point you may encounter nude sunbathers”. We found the circle but no magic. We didn’t see anyone out and didn’t have a chance to talk with any of the winter residents.

I enjoy meeting people who are different, who hear a drum that I don’t hear, who have experiences that I’ll never have, who make the world more wonderful and more colorful, who are enjoying life, who teach me new things.

Why do I have this need for novelty? An article in a science magazine proposed the theory that it’s a product of an evolutionary drive for survival. Predators watch herds for the animals that are different, unusual and novel because these may be the animals that are sick or injured and more easily captured. It’s an interesting theory. Maybe I’m not very high on the evolutionary tree.

Given a choice between novel and politically correct people, I’ll take the novel.


Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

I like "different" people, altho I must admit to keeping my distance when I'm not sure where they are coming from exactly. Ecentricity is fine, as I can identify with that, but if someone approaches me aggresively, I just deal till I can find a nice comfortable escape. There are two kinds of people I never care to meet......guests on the Jerry Springer show, and those in the audience. I don't find much distinction between the two when push comes to shove.

1/20/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gaye said...

I have a need for novelty too. I'm drawn to people that march to their own drummer; I feel "at home" with them. I've been this way even as a child...hmmm...

The "herd" bores me; I love the mental stimulation of eccentricity!!

1/20/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

I surely do enjoy listening to your drummer.

1/21/2006 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

I am a chronic novelty seeker too!
Fun isn't it?

1/21/2006 04:04:00 PM  

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