When you live in an urban environment, the chances of witnessing strange and unusual things increases exponentially. People seemed a whole lot more normal back when I was a kid living in a town of 800 people. On second thought, they didn’t, but whatever. Now that I live in the biggest metropolitan area in my little corner of the world, I am constantly seeing people who are obviously off their medications. The good news is I look a whole lot more normal in comparison.
You know, the world is much improved when people are allowed to follow the beat of their own drummer, so to speak. The troubles don’t really arise until people with no rhythm get a drummer – then watch out. The other day I passed a man and at first I couldn’t quite put my finger on just what was eye-catching about the man. Was it his natty outfit of unbuttoned camouflage jacket, torn jeans, work boots and flowing caftan? Nope. Was it the ski cap worn at a rakish angle, as in hanging off the right side of his head, creating a large green “thought bubble” mass over his ear? Nope. Ah, it was the half shaved, half unshaved look. It was one of those kinds of moments when you catch a glimpse, think nothing of it. Check your blind spot and think, “wait, didn’t he have a beard just a second ago?” The worst part was the tricked-out bicycle he was tottering on. The pink handlebar tassels and daisies on the basket just didn’t do much for the image he was going for.
But at least he was basically moving in a straight line. He was riding down the sidewalk, but whatever. He was moving. Which is more than I can say for this little gem.
You know you have really found the mecca of the nutballs when you find an exercise bike chained up. There is either someone out there laughing his/her hiney off over this little prank, or someone really needed to refill his/her prescription. And considering I took this photo at my local Walgreen’s Pharmacy, let’s just take a little guess at which answer is more likely.
So I’m not sure if I’m just a magnet for the crazies, like in “birds of a feather flock together” and all that, or if I just notice them more. I like to think it’s due to my awesome powers of perception and such things, but the truth is I really don’t know. But as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had lots of “interesting people” in my life. But, of course, it takes one to know one, right?
This one time I was riding public transportation home after work. I got in full “don’t talk to me” mode and prepared for someone to sit next to me and engage me in conversation. Within three stops, a guy is sitting next to me and starts telling me about his life and times. Apparently my headphones, magazine, hunched body posture screamed, “Please talk to me about your latest paranormal experience!” Because he proceeded to tell me all about his mom, what it is like living with her, and about his legs.
“So, do you ever find that as you are walking down the street, your legs just go right up into your body?”
“Well, mine do that sometimes. It don’t hurt none, but it makes walkin’ hard. I’ll be walking along and “whoop!” they just slide right up into my body. It takes awhile for them to come back down sometimes, though.”
“So, whatcha readin’ there? I don’t like readin’ none. Makes my head hurt. My mom says I don’t wanna do that ’cause that’s when the little noises start in my head.”
[Silence, moves closer to the wall.]
“The doctors say my legs are fine, but I don’t think they know what they are talkin’ ’bout. I mean, somethin’s makin’ me fall down all the time. F@*&in’ doctors don’t know nuttin’ anyway. Always poking holes in my arm and shit. Like talking about when I was a kid is gunna make my legs right.”
[Damn! Tape just ended, tries to flip tape over without being seen. Doesn’t work.]
“Oh, I always wanted something to play music on. I had me one of those big boom-boxes awhile ago, but they took it when I had to go to the special hospital.”
“I hope mommy made me tomato soup for dinner. I love tomato soup. My mommy is so nice to me now. She doesn’t hit me anymore or nuttin’. She just makes me sit and listen to her read. She likes to read this one part of that Big Book over and over. She says it’s to remind me of my true nature and all that.”
“Her name’s Mary. You know what that means, right? You know, like the Virgin?”
[Rings bell, gets off bus 18 blocks from home.]
Every time I start to worry that being a largely stay-at-home-mom is truly driving me insane, I just check to see I’m having trouble keeping my legs in their correct place. As long as the noises in my head aren’t louder than the kids and I can still outrun at least one of my three kids, I figure I’m doing alright.