A series of unsolved mysteries

Once upon a time, my sister Erica and I co-authored a book called “The Mad Tourist”. We obsessively returned to the phrase “it was destined to be the greatest unsolved mystery of his career,” and took great delight in inserting it in the most ludicrous contexts. Today, I am going to examine the greatest unsolved mysteries of my life. I have high hopes that via the inter-relational magic of the blogging world, someone out there may have answers for me. Could that someone be you? Ask yourself that question and report back to me.

Mystery #1

The tall Ethiopian man. He lives in our neighborhood, and wears a neon shirt (orange or green) and a tracksuit come rain or shine. He recently explanded his wardrobe to include a shirt with horizontal stripes–when I saw it, I was shocked. “Wow, a new shirt,” I mused as I walked to the train to go to work. “I wonder why he has a new shirt.”

About 2 weeks ago, on our way to the El stop in the morning, my husband and I spotted him in a new all-yellow tracksuit that was shining like the very sun itself. “Hey, look at our friend,” my husband said. “Wow,” I said. “Yeah,” he said. “Uh huh,” I added. I mean, this is a lot of new clothes happening after a whole year of just two shirts. Something is going on here.

Every day I see him walking up and down the block calmly, contemplatively, frequently with his hands in his pockets. He is almost invariably alone. I rarely see him interacting with anyone. Does he have a job? Is he the ‘lookout guy’ for some kind of neighborhood ‘dealio’ that I shouldn’t really be mentioning or inquiring into? Does he really just walk around the neighborhood, all day long? Or do we just happen to catch him when we’re ambling around, and he’s equally curious about why we seem to always be walking about? Does he have an identical blog post . . . but about me? “Saw that weird looking freckled girl again . . . looks like she finally got a new coat after a year of wearing the rattiest looking grey carpet sack you can imagine. . . she couldn’t stop looking at my new yellow tracksuit, not sure what’s up with that  . . . wonder if she’s the lookout girl for some kind of neighborhood ‘dealio’ since she’s always walking around . . . I mean, what does she do all day? Does she have a job, or what? . . . “

Once after returning from a walk on the beach I saw him standing in front of a “No Outlet” sign–as I passed, he pointed at this sign and laughed aloud.

There was nobody else around to witness this laugh.

If you are that Ethiopian man and you are reading this, who are you please? Do you have a family? What do you do all day? My husband suggested that maybe you are our neighborhood’s guardian angel. Please confirm at your earliest convenience.

Mystery #2

This picture of my new brother-in-law Dave. Could somebody please explain?

What?? And why?

I mean, why is he holding that pig? Did the pig come from the bucket on the right? Or is the pig going into the bucket on the right? Does the pig love Dave as much as Dave appears to love the pig? Is the pig enjoying the tight embrace, or is the pig actually struggling to escape Dave’s vise-like grip? Why is Dave so upset? Is this a “Charlotte’s Web” story in which the runt of the litter is going to be slaughtered and Dave realized via a magical spider that this pig was Something Special?

Thank you for your assistance.

Mystery #3

Where does the dirt come from? Where???

(By the way, my husband–bless his manly heart–totally didn’t get this mystery when I asked him to proof my post. “Huh?” he said. “It doesn’t make sense. What dirt?” And then I laughed and laughed and cried and laughed some more. I’m happy for him . . . really. If I were oblivious to the dust constantly settling on the furniture 2 seconds after I wipe it down, my life might be a happier place.)

Mystery #4

Supposedly this is me at 7 years old.


But I demand a careful investigation–what? Who? How? Whence? Forthwith?

Run for the hills! That’s all I can say.

Mystery #5

My extended family. During the reception at my sister’s very-blogged-about wedding this past July, my cousin Charles and his wife Rachel got up to demonstrate how kissing should be done. This is what happened. First, a running leap into Charles’ arms . . .

. . . and then a passionate dip. Please look closely at the faces of the people watching.

What mutations in the genetic line produced such . . . ballsiness? Daring? Panache? Utterly unabashed showmanship? And even worse–do I have those impulses somewhere inside me, and will they surface with a bang in an embarrassing episode I will never live down?

Charles, Rachel–you have earned my undying admiration. Wow.

Update: Charles and Rachel have just announced they are having a baby! I couldn’t be more excited, and I’m desperately trying not to do the math that takes us back in time 3 months . . . right about to Erica’s wedding weekend. OK.

In the next day or two, I will be setting up a toll-free hotline (1-800-JENNAS-UNSOLVED-MYSTERIES, or 1-800-536627-86765833-697837437). If you think you have the answer to any of these questions, please dial in using the touch tone menu. Representatives will be standing by. I considered offering a cash reward for answers, but decided to use it to buy a fancy coffee for myself at Starbucks instead–I hope you’ll understand.

16 thoughts on “A series of unsolved mysteries

  1. TheKitchenWitch

    The man in the tracksuit is most intriguing! He sounds like a wonderful character in a novel–the mysterious Ethiopian with new duds and a quirky sense of humor. I love that you imagine HIM wondering about you. That’s too awesome.

    Your photos are hilarious! I say, that pig is begging for mercy.

    Reply
  2. Circe

    Mysteries are such a lot of fun because you never know. Though I will tell you that my dog makes the same kind of movements when she’s trying to be away from me, so I would say that pig is trying to make a break for.

    great post

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Hahaha! Thanks Rebekah . . . the ‘Charlotte’ reference took me a second–I was like ‘Who the heck is Charlotte?’ And then it all became clear–very funny. There are indeed many more unsolved mysteries in my life, so thanks for the idea of making this into a series. =)

      Reply
  3. Karen

    Oh those are funny! My great mystery – a vanished coat, last seen 5 years ago when we took all our coats out of the laundry room to repaint the walls. This one is the only one not to reappear. Sigh. I still miss it.

    Reply
  4. Veronica

    Ha! Life is never boring, is it? That picture of you at seven. That scares me. LOL! I’m trying to figure out how you got yourself into that position–you must be a contortionist! I have a mystery of my own. For two days in a row last month, I drove by a kid sitting out in the front lawn with a big poster-board sign that said “HAVE A NICE DAY!” I still wonder why. Was he just trying to improve the overall mood of our city? Decrease road rage? Was it a school experiment to see if he could cheer people up? And why did he only do it twice? Did he give up? Was the experiment over, and if so, what were the results? It was very sweet but I have to admit, I was so mystified by it that I forgot to have a nice day!

    Reply
  5. Wendy

    If I solved the pig mystery, it would not be half as much fun as wondering what he was doing. So I won’t. But, isn’t he just so cute? The hat once had googly eyes on the puff ball on the top — I see he had already lost them. He was at his “adopted” grandparents’ house for that photo. They were wonderful people who treated David like a grandson and gave him all kinds of opportunities to try things (like holding a pig).

    Reply
  6. Jen

    I confess! I confess! I’ve been running around as a tall Ethiopian man because I’m madly in love with track suits of irritating colors that remind me of the track suit I had in the 3rd grade (and quite decidedly never wore again). I also confess that the dirt fairy put it there! (There IS no other reasonable and logical explanation. It HAS to be a fairy.) Dave is upset because he just learned that he is not holding a puppy afterall. It’s a pig that’s going to grow up and be eaten someday. (He was such a sensitive child.)

    As for mystery#4, my dear girl, there is no explanation.

    Reply
  7. Megan

    How do you know he’s Ethiopian? I assumed by the way you wrote the description that you guys see him often, but have never talked to him yet. Next time you see him, with your husband present, try saying “Good Morning! Off to work?” Or something like that. Ask him where he’s from. Maybe you’d be the first friendly neighbors who’ve talked to him, since you’re in a big city and all. I’ve heard that greeting strangers on the street is perfectly normal for many African cultures, but of course that’s hearsay because I’ve never been there. Maybe he’s here working hard and saving up as much money as he can get, so his family can come join him soon. Maybe he sees you guys very often, but is too shy to say hello because he’s self-conscious about his English. (Many of my students feel this way.) Then again, maybe he has perfect English and IS wondering about you also, like you wrote. Seems to me the only way to solve this mystery is to have a friendly neighbor chat. Don’t do as I would do and be shy. What have you got to lose?

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Thanks for the advice . . . maybe that would be a good idea! I’ve tried to make eye contact with him as we pass, but he always gazes into the sky, so maybe I’ll just have to take the leap and say something with no prior eye contact. I’m 99.99% sure he’s Ethiopian because there are a lot of Ethiopians in our neighborhood (as well as restaurants and grocery stores) and he has that bone structure and gorgeous ebony-black skin. He looks like a nice guy–just very, very mysterious.

      Reply

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