Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Karpis Girl

Have you just liked someone or something, and multiple people you may or may not be acquainted with just look at you and say, "How did you get into that?"

Yeah, welcome to my life.  Apparently, due to the fact that I have blonde hair, big boobs, and am from Southern California, I am expected to be into certain (and normally feminine-fashionista) things.  Except I tend to be nothing what you'd ever expect.

I'm kind of a nerd.  And I mean that in the best way.  I'm smart - both with grades and with random topics.  However, I do admit; I have my moments.  Sometimes, I don't get jokes and they have to be explained to me.  But the joke is still funny once I do get it.  Anyways, I'm a nerd, especially when I get really, really into something.  And no, fashion isn't something I'm into most of the time.

Piracy and 1930s gangsters are two topics I am really into and know a lot - more than any average citizen - about.  I love learning about things I'm into, so I read and watch as much as I can.  And since one of my two favorite gangsters stayed in Alcatraz for nearly twenty six years (the longest inmate to ever do that, by the way), I had to do research on Alcatraz, and even more than that, I had to go to Alcatraz.

Allow me to introduce myself:  Hello, I'm the [Alvin] Karpis girl.  The people who worked at Alcatraz actually addressed me as such because a couple of months ago, I wrote their park system, asking about his cells and time in the bakery.  Duh.  If I'm going to make the trek up to NorCal, I want to get (my father and grandparents') money's worth.  Plus, I want it to mean something to me.  The thing is, I got a response back, and the president of the Night Tours actually escorted me personally to his cells, let me go in them - for a gangster geek like me, I was in Heaven (despite being on Devil's Island).

But what everyone kept asking me, including my grandparents, asked me was this:  "How did you get into Karpis?"  "Why Karpis?"  Because apparently it makes sense if I got into Al Capone or even John Dillinger.  No one really knows Alvin Karpis even though he was the lone 1930's gangster (and Public Enemy Number One) to survive.  Prison.  Shoot outs.  Being in the same room as J. Edgar Hoover.  He's a survivor.  But I like the fact that no one knows him - it's like I have a secret; a big beautiful secret that if you're not in on, hey, guess what, your loss.

So the question is kind of offensive to me.  However, instead of retorting, "Why the fuck not?" or "Because he's Alvin FUCKING Karpis," I refrain.  Because I have to remember - these people aren't in on the secret.  They don't know how great he is.  So I explain that while reading Bryan Burrows' Public Enemies, I really got into Karpis's story (along, of course, with Dillinger's).  But it's more than that.  And that's a secret I will keep.  Because people who aren't in on the secret don't get it.  And having to explain it?  Well, that's like having to explain a joke.  Some people still find the joke amusing (me), but the majority of the population still won't get it - and you're the weird one.

I'm weird enough as it is.  The only two people who haven't asked me that question are my parents.  As much as they're different, they recognize that my eccentricities make me who I am.  Like the fact that I have Karpis's mug shot as my background.  My mom didn't even blink.  That's just who I am.  And I think they love me for it.

Plus, let's be honest, I teach them things they'd probably never know.  So when they're old and are playing Trivia Pursuit and there's a question about piracy or gangsters, they'll look at the sky (because I'll be in my mansion away from them doing my thing while they do theirs) and say, "Thank you Heather."  And I'll say, "No biggie."

1 comment:

  1. hey. i read two of your stories on fictionpress and just wanted to let you know they're really great. i'm also impressed since we're around the same age and both in university and you're not only studying but also writing stories as a hobby. i'm a second year engineering student at university of calgary and can't even find time to catch up with friends. it's really amazing to me how you do soo much in such little time :)