Assholes: Takes one to know one

October 5, 2022

Dell Franklin

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


I was cruising along the frontage road bordering Highway 1 around 10 in the morning, having just hit the tennis ball for over an hour with a friend, headed toward Spencer’s Fresh Market in Morro Bay, on my way home to Cayucos, when a very big green military type van was suddenly coming up fast on me, and hugged my tail with an over-sized, rather menacing looking bumper. Driving a 19-year-old Toyota, I glimpsed at the driver in my rear view mirror; he owned a large, bulbous face and wild gray hair sprouting in various directions, like a nest of snakes.

He was so close, I feared he was going to ram me, and I was moving at around the speed limit—40 mph.

He seemed pissed off, and I figured it was my old, faded, barely visible “KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD” bumper sticker that had him riled. (A friend in Portland sent it to me). I’m pretty sure he saw me eyeing him in my mirror, and he was kind of snarling, his mouth crooked, teeth flashing like some sort of carnivorous feral animal on the prowl. I guessed him to be around 55 or 60.

I kept my eye on him all the way down the road, slowing to 35 the last quarter mile, because I was not about to be intimidated by a bully, and he stayed right on my tail as I turned into the Spencer’s massive parking lot beside Taco Temple Restaurant, and tooled slowly toward some parking spots while the van veered past me and then cut in front of me and wove between gaps of parked cars and halted in a spot.

I took my time and parked a couple spots over and sat and watched him get out of his car and head in long strides toward the market, eyeing me the whole time with an extremely malignant, nodding, knowing glower while I sat in my car.

He wore black army boots like those we wore in the 1960s, cut-off cargo pants with multi pockets, and a tank top. He looked work-strong, probably 3 inches taller and 25 pounds heavier and 20 years younger than me, and he was still twisting his big head of shoulder-length snakes in my direction as he ducked into the market.

There were big canisters on his vehicle, meaning he was probably some kind of survivalist living in the hills, growing crops and weed or sitting on a porch with a vicious guard dog and a rifle and shooting anything that moved when he wasn’t hunting wild pigs to barbecue and share with his beast.

This area, slow and tranquil as it is, can be deceiving. There are pockets of hermits, social outcasts, borderline outlaws, and anarchists living in sheds, motorhomes and old dilapidated ranch cabins a few miles inland from the beach, who come in every week or so for provisions

I walked toward the market, holding a biscuit for a dog who sat mornings with a bunch of ancient military veterans wearing ball caps signifying their outfits when they were in wars, and gave the biscuit to the dog before entering.

Inside, I headed straight to the bakery to secure a muffin to have with my coffee and LA Times when I got home to my dog. After securing my muffin, I wandered toward the deli section looking for something special in case I wasn’t in the mood to cook, and ran into Cloyd, an old pal who used to frequent Happy Jack’s Saloon, where I tended bar for eight years back in the 1990s.

Pudgy and gray, Cloyd has clerked in a Morro Bay liquor store for 25 years, at least, lives frugally in a mobile home, takes a walk on the beach every other day, and otherwise lives a life of quiet, cautious contentedness. We exchanged greetings and questions as to our health, and he was telling me how it’s cheaper to get his blood pressure medicine through the vets than Medicare, when the driver of the army-mobile was suddenly directly in my face, inches away, as Cloyd, not a swift reacting person, quickly moved away to a safe position.

The snake-head held a small basket of his purchases, while I held my cloth bag. Up close, as he gazed into my eyes, I recognized crazed hostility. He tilted his head this way and that, as if to further appraise me. Cloyd peered at me in a manner questioning what was going on between us. Shoppers skirted us, aroused, concerned.

The guy’s eyes seemed to glitter and scoured every pore in my face, and then, shaking his head sadly, as if dealing with a hopeless idiot, he said, loud enough for Cloyd and everybody in the vicinity to hear, “You cut me off.” Before I could retort, he said, “You’re an asshole.” He flashed me one last look of disgust and contempt and walked off in those long strides.

Cloyd stepped over. “What was that all about?

“Hell if I know.”

I headed for the meat section. He was down there, too, looking over the burger meat. When he finished, I got my burger meat and some American cheese and frozen French fries. I spotted him heading to the checkout line. I was done, but I waited until he was out the door, then checked my stuff and walked toward my car, saw him standing arms folded against his dusty, dirt-encrusted army-mobile, waiting, watching me.

I got in my car. I took my time. I started up. I drove slowly, in a crawl, turned down the lane where he stood against his army-mobile and watched him straighten up as I approached. I slowed almost to a stop, rolled down my window, mouthed “asshole,” and issued him the finger, making sure to thrust it at him with conviction and hold it a few seconds to make my point, and rolled slowly away at a snail’s pace.

He came unglued, shook his fists and cursed me violently, spittle flying from his trap. Then he ran after me in an awkward, non-athletic gait as I cruised away staying just ahead of him as he foamed at the mouth and threatened my life. I pulled away very slowly, my finger still out the window, gazing at him in my side mirror as he finally halted, bent over at the waist, obviously winded, his day ruined for sure as I turned onto the frontage road and tooled away, my finger still out for one last look.

Takes one to know one.

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Dell, Yup, only you can make this stuff up.

Sigh* If someone wants to go faster than you, just pull off. Let them by. It’s not about being “intimidated” it’s really about courtesy. You do your thing and they’ll do theirs. Move along. No prizes or awards. Fail.

and it all happened exactly like that…

Good story Dell but flipping him off as you are leaving getting him riled up, not real bright. Good way to get your ass beat or worse. Sure, it feels good to flip him off and have the last word but sometimes it’s just better to say to yourself “Dudes an idiot” and let it go. You got lucky Pal.

That was an entertaining story LOL ….A picture of Snake Head and his vehicle would Definatley help others in future who might have to deal with him

“Dealing with him” is easily avoidable and is your choice to avoid, very simply. Get out of his way. Heck, you’ll probably get a thank you wave. You’d be surprised.