This past weekend we participated in the Tutu Run in Asbury Park to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters because WE, my family, are the true heroes. It was a short race along the boardwalk, a mile in and then back. Near the turnaround spot there was a man playing his guitar and singing, covering popular rock songs, a bucket in front of him for donations. Ella wanted to give him a few bucks—or, more accurately, she wanted ME to give HER a few bucks that she could in turn give him, a total big salad scenario—but this was difficult to do because we were, ya’ know, in the middle of a race, and my wallet was zipped and tucked between layers of clothes that included a bright pink tutu.

After the race, however, as we were driving down Ocean Avenue, my wife had the idea to stop and grab a couple coffees at a place she had spotted along the boardwalk. So we parked, and I ran out to do so. As I reached the boardwalk, lo and behold, there was guitar man about a hundred feet away, still jamming. So I went back to the car, handed my wife the coffees, gathered a few bucks, and took both of the girls with me to compensate guitar man for his service to the community.

While I was at the car, guitar man had progressed to Radiohead’s “Creep,” and by the time me and the girls had half-jogged our way back up to the boardwalk and were within striking distance of his bucket, I instantly recognized exactly where he was in the song.

I wish I was special …

Oh no. He won’t though, right? I mean, it’s 9:30 in the morning.

The girls approached the bucket, smiling goofily.

He won’t.

You’re so FUCKIN’ special

Dammit. What? OK so the girls are 10 and 11, and they are NO strangers to that word or any word, really. But the boardwalk was full of families, and people were still running the race dressed in tutus. The contrast between that line and the environment in which it was shouted was striking and—I can freely admit, despite my situation—hilarious. It’s so easy to edit that part out, and not only did he not do that, he went out of his way to emphasize it. I might otherwise argue that he was in the zone, just feelin’ it, remaining true to his art; HOWEVER, he was cognizant enough to actually notice the girls drop off the money, and thank them mid-song. So it ultimately went like this:

I wish I was special …
You’re so FUCKIN’ special hey thank you, have a Happy Thanksgiving!
But I’m a creep

It was difficult to even gauge how the girls processed it. They were clearly stunned, but they also didn’t mention it, which is very unlike them. Ah who knows. They are, after all—and I’ll give him this—very special.