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Saturday, September 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 74.0° F  Light Rain
The Daily
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The New Girl in Town: What the freak!?

Madison didn't need to an event called Freakfest to call attention to the amount of weirdoes in this city and its vicinity. The Jeffrey Dahmer quips aside, this place has a lot more to worry about than cannibals.

Of course, every city is sprinkled with garden-variety nut jobs -- the guy who walks his dog at dusk donning a muumuu; the heavyset bloke with the faux-hawk who disrobes in the condo laundry room and waits, naked, until his load is done. These sorts embody their oddness and go about their days in private. We know they're a little off, but we smile at their differences. But Wisconsin has another type of lunatic -- the in-your-face freak!

My first encounter was small scale. In the first few weeks of my Madison residency, I volunteered at the Gay Pridefest -- a great event, indeed. All sorts of folks attended. So did the guy who wore white, assless biker shorts and stood in front of my booth. This fashion statement prompted the safety patrolman to ask dutifully, "Excuse me, I just want to make sure you have SPF on your... cheeks." Mmm, delicious.

The next case of public freakdom occurred on the bus when a guy hopped on near Home Depot. I loves me some Home Depot, but unless they've got a really smart looking tool belt, it's not my destination of choice for haute couture. Well, well, I got served! For a good fifteen minutes I was lectured about this dude's newest accessory: a safety-orange gas-mask which he wore for the entire, sweltering ride.

You see, the kind of freak I'm talking about is not only freaky by nature, but loves presenting his freakiness to the public.

To get my mind off the fact that I moved to Whack-consin, I decided to buckle down recently with the television show notorious for nutters, American Idol. I was all keyed up, yelling at the screen, "Come on, Seattle, bring me your psychos! Console me with freaks from your geographic locale! Or at least let Paula be ripped on prescription drugs!"

But I should have known not to count on Fox to give me warm fuzzies. Oodles of whack jobs were all from WI -- the Urban Amish guy, the self-proclaimed (albeit talented) crack baby, even the redheaded Ted Kaczynski-wannabe! What the bonk?

What's with Wisconsin? Is it something in the water? Is it the overindulgence in cheese curds? What's with these utter psychos who thrive on bringing their idiosyncrasies into the spotlight? What's with the need to be observed and thus able to engage or enrage the simple, unsuspecting bystander? I could never freaking do that....

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