Weirdness Never Sleeps 

I know three three-nippled people...

I know three three-nippled people. It is most rare to be a three-nippled person, the odds being about 200-to-1 against. There used to be more three-nippled people, but zealous New England do-gooders burned some of ’em during the witch trials, taking a lot of this interesting genetic material out of play. It’s a pity.

My three-nippled circle includes my early-’70s girlfriend, and two guys who were in my band at the same time. (Hey, once you know somebody with an extra, you start looking for ’em everywhere.) For me to know these three people—and for all of them to have come into my life at just about the same time—constitutes a coincidence of cosmic proportions, and it demonstrates Walter’s First Law of Weirdness, which says: Weirdness is a sentient force, with a mind all its own, always looking for a party where it can get together with other weirdness, have a quickie cluster relationship, and move on.

Take the example of one local Realtor, the nicest woman you’d ever want to meet, who, as far as I can tell, deserves no rude treatment from the cosmos. But, for about six months, when I did an inspection that involved one of her sales, it was just about guaranteed that I’d find bad roof framing. It wasn’t just that I had suddenly gotten hyper-alert to bad roof framing. When one of my competitors inspected one of her houses, the roof framing was so bad, it took an engineer to straighten it out. (Hey, I could have been shielding her from an even worse weirdness attack.)

Then there’s this: I compulsively synchronize every watch and clock in my house to the clock on the Weather Channel. When I’m out inspecting houses, I reset errant clocks on the ranges, microwave ovens and coffee makers. I am late maybe twice a year.

And yet, all year long, when I’ve been scheduled to meet with Realtor Frank Varallo, I can’t help but turn up a half-hour late. I’ve written Frank’s name on the wrong line of my appointment book, I’ve gotten caught in traffic, I’ve gotten slow service at lunch. Although he hasn’t complained, and he nods understandingly when I apologize, Frank has to be walking around thinking, Jowers is chronically late. He needs to pay more attention to the time.

The pattern here is roving packs of trouble, guided by unseen hands. For instance, my luck is generally fair to good, but my dog luck has been rock-bottom. The soil of my redneck-boyhood homeplace in South Carolina is made up chiefly of the remains of my ex-dogs. It started when my daddy head-slapped my first puppy to death (purely an accident), and it has been downhill ever since. Some lowlife neighbors summarily executed my collie, Honey, for eating their chickens. My basset hound, Martin, escaped our fenced yard, came home with invisible injuries, whined to get my attention, then keeled over dead on the doorstep. Nuisance, my favorite dog ever, expired as a result of incurable mange.

Semi-beagle Betty Lou developed an unusual growth that I thought was cancer. I took her to the vet, and it turned out she was a real enough hermaphrodite dog. She made a swell conversation piece, though, so I consider this mixed luck—still weird, though.

I pass my valuable observations along to my customers. If they seem like folks who can handle a little metaphysics, I tell them this: When new people move into a house, the house gives off weirdness-attracting pheromones. Some things that worked on inspection day might just stop working. Or, a 100-year rainstorm will come and flood the basement. Defects hidden for decades could surface. Relax, and roll with it. Act nonchalant. Putting up a big fuss just stimulates the house’s pheromone production and makes things worse. If those people at the Amityville Horror house would have just stayed calm, the blood running out of the walls would have dried right up.

Now, I know y’all have been wondering: No, the third nipple is not stuck in middle, like a Cyclops eye. If it’s there, it’ll be below one of the regular ones (think dog belly). And no, it doesn’t look like the regular ones. It’s a little vestigial kind of thing, which could be mistaken for a mole. To check it out, give it a rub test. If it perks up, bingo.

Walter Jowers can be reached at Walter.Jowers@nashville.com.

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