Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Was Once Crazy

Every town, city or village I've ever lived in has had its local crazy people. I know "crazy" is an insensitive term, but the people I'm calling "crazy" represent such a wide variety of mental disorders and charms, that it's easier just to use the blanket term. I'm talking about the local eccentrics, the raving lunatics and the harmless or dangerous folks who walk the streets talking to themselves or to God or to aliens.

Today, I passed a woman who was talking to herself, occasionally yelling at the sky or at cars going by. During the fireworks on the Fourth, a woman walked by and demanded to know why I was polluting the air with sulfur. Whenever I encounter these folks, for as long as I can remember, I've always thought to myself, "That's going to be me in ten years." Now, I've said this since I was a toddler, so really, I'm long overdue.

It never fails, whenever I see crazy people, I immediately begin to wonder how they got to this point in time. Were they always crazy? Are they suffering, untreated, from some mental disorder? Or did something happen? One day, did it just get to be too much for them? Did they just snap? This latter scenario intrigues me, and it's the reason I mutter, "That's going to be me in ten years." My mind starts to ponder what could push me over the edge someday. Will it be a huge, cataclysmic event, like in the movies? Or will it be some little thing. Some little thing that tips the scales and finally breaks whatever tenuous hold I still have on reality.

In my hometown in Oklahoma, we had a whole cast of characters who the townspeople alternately scolded and watched over. In college, there was a guy named Ludwig Plutonium, who always wore bright orange hunting gear and submitted full-page ads to the paper describing his latest discoveries in physics and time travel. In Los Angeles, any evening on Hollywood Boulevard reveals a wide array of the oddball or the forgotten. Here, too, I'm sure there are local characters who everyone knows by name and condition.

So why do I do it? Why do I look into the face of crazy and see a crystal ball? What could transform me from my safe life as a mild-mannered blogger to an unofficial, unsanctioned town crier?

I don't know. But undoubtedly, it'll be because of something you did.

6 comments:

funkymono (aka Jeremy) said...

Great post! My favorite encounter with one of our crazies was when a lady approached me on College Street one evening, asked if I was gay, then asked if she could gay bash me. When I said "No you may not," she went into a tirade about how she had looked at some other woman, and the other lady thought she was a lesbian and wanted to beat her up.

She spent a full two minutes going on and on about how she's not a lesbian and she didn't want to get it on with the other lady; she just looked at her. "I don't wanna eat no pussy," she said, to which I replied "Well neither do I."

She paused for a moment, shrugged and said "Well, I can respect that" and walked away.

Chance said...

I'm proud of you for not letting her gay bash you. I have no doubt that she'll find me at some point, as well. I seem to attract the crazy.

By the way, my mother reads my blog, so watch the language!

funkymono (aka Jeremy) said...

Oops. Sorry Mom!

Carolyn Z. said...

Chance, does it worry you a little bit to know that Ludwig Plutonium isn't still riding around the streets of Hanover in his bright orange (or his aluminum, for that matter) suits? It worries me. What happened to him, do you think??

Hanover needs a new crazy. Should it be me?

Hi! Um, for the record, I LOVE the blog. It's my new favorite pasttime.

Chance said...

Yay Carolyn! I always thought Ludwig would be there forever. Maybe he went to the future. You should definitely take over as resident crazy person! I will join you.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ludwig went to Mars with Marvin the Martian from Nowata. You know he had the map.

I just feel so dated and colloquial cuz my life is like that episode on Mayberry or Beverly Hillbillies. You know, geniuses don't come from ordinary families and crazies don't come from normal families. Do you remember a few years ago, Summer wrote in a school assignment that her whole family was crazy. Out of the mouths of babes. And what is the kids nickname for Michael? Hmmm?