Portland prides itself on its weirdness. You see it all over town- KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD stickers boasting the city’s penchant for its oddities. Some stickers word play on this slogan: KEEP PORTLAND WIRED, KEEP PORTLAND BEERED.
The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said, KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD. What, Austin Texas? C’mon man, Austin, no way! Now I’ve never been to Austin but it can’t possibly be weirder than Portland, could it? Does Austin have the urban iditarod? Ride MAX in your underwear day? The naked bike ride? No, no, and no! I’ll bet they don’t even have Voodoo donuts.
Some time ago, I was in a local pub and ordered a beer. The bartender tossed down a coaster and lay on top a perfect pint. With my first sip, I noticed the cardboard coaster was the size of a postcard. Sure enough, I flipped it over and there was that unmistakable square in the corner reserved for a postal stamp. On the front was a picture of some guy precariously standing on a bicycle, giving the thumbs-up, three bottles of beer in the basket. Then the words- A Feat of Balance. Cool, a free postcard! Michigan Bob is gonna like this one.
Probably a week or so later, I got the very same postcard in the mail. What the …? Whoa. Now this is weird. Same dude standing atop a bike, thumbs-up, three bottles of beer in the basket. The note on the back said, “I’m buyin’ the next round.” That’s all.
It wasn’t Michigan Bobs writing. He always prints, this was cursive. Maybe it was from my brother, he travels all over. Wait, no, he doesn’t drink. I scratched at the beer circle the glass had made on the card and smelled it as if I could detect the brand of beer. Nope, just smelled like your average postcard.
Around the border of the card, more clues. Something about the goofy name of the street I live on, and signing off, Ace Himilgan( from Iceland). Ace? Hmmm… the only Ace I know is Ace Ventura- Pet Detective. Himilgen, yea that sounds Icelandic, but I don’ t ever remember meeting an Icelander. I don’t even know anyone who has been to Iceland. Combine the names, see if someone is pulling a fast one. Acehimilgen? Gobbledygook. Pretty weird.
The stamp was a shelter mutt from the Humane Society. Could that be a clue? Well, I’ve got a dog. Yea well, so does just about everyone else in Portland.
I could not put it together. So strange how I would send off a postcard and a week later get the same postcard back from what could perhaps be some stalker. Okay, I get it! Maybe this was just some random act of weirdness.
Just as I was giving up on who the culprit might be, I looked a little closer at the postmark. Squinting my eyes to make out the slightly faded ink blot, with a puzzled grin, in postal font, I read Austin,TX…WEIRD??