mental illness

The L.A. Experiment Part One: The Real Crazy Eyes

Santa Monica Palm and beach

When I returned to the States, I could fit everything I owned into a regular sized car, which is exactly what I did after I bought an old used Audi for $2000.

Not my actual car, but this one is a beauty. 

Not my actual car, but this one is a beauty. 

I went from Austin to L.A., not to “make it big,” (there are already a few million or so trying to do that out there), but to experience it and see how I felt about it. 

It was my L.A. experiment, and I have a few thoughts that I want to throw into the black hole of cyberspace about it.  

First, I have to tell you about my encounter with the real-life Crazy Eyes (no, I didn't meet Uzo Aduba, I'm just talking about someone who was remarkably like her character in Orange is the New Black). 

Before you get distracted by the TV, a Kim Kardashian pop-up, your phone, or any other number of possible distractions pervasive in the 21st century, I’ll tell the story already. 

Long Beach

I had just gone for a run along the Long Beach boardwalk before the sun decided once again to dip into the horizon, and was walking back to my car. It was twilight outside, beautiful, and only slightly brisk. In other words, perfect SoCal weather. I walked by the small building that housed restroom facilities when I noticed a woman who had stopped right in front of a sign. 

The sign had pictures of various food items. . 

She stopped at the sign and started caressing it, almost as if she was trying to conjure real pieces of fruit or ice cream from the pictures on it. I have found that I can't produce food by trying to grab it from a wall, but feel free to give it a go if you'd like. 

I walked by thinking nothing of it except that the world she was in at the moment must be pretty damn interesting. I smiled inwardly and thought that was the last time I would see that person. 

I was wrong. 

Suddenly I was aware of someone behind me, of light footsteps on the sand-sprinkled concrete walkway. Then I was being spoken to. 

“There you are,” she said lightly, then added, “Hey Eminem.”

I didn’t respond. After traveling for a while, I got used to not replying to strangers because many times they did not have your best interests in mind. And strangers who call you Eminem, well, it's probably best just to mosey along. 

“Hey Brian, ain’t you gonna turn around yet?” she asked, still in a very controlled almost soothing hypnotic tone. 

I didn’t turn around. 

“Oh I see,” as though a light epiphany tapped her on the shoulder, “you ain’t listen to bitches. No. You listen to yourself.” 

Suddenly she’s walking alongside me, and once again she implores me to converse with her, alternately calling me Brian and Eminem.

I decided to acknowledge her, partly out of curiosity, another part out of courtesy that was instilled in me from growing up in Nebraska, and another because there is a special place in my heart for the outcasts of the world. 

So with utter grace and mellifluous tone, I ventured with “what’s up?”

While the door (in my mind at least) was only partially cracked open for conversation, she barged in like an old friend and sat down on the couch and started eating the chips and salsa with full possession of the remote.  

The very first thing uttered from her when face to face was: “I’m not trying to have sex with you or nothing,” and proceeds to grab her crotch. She then tells me that she’s the eastside of…well, I don’t know, but it was the eastside of something and flipped what appeared to be some cryptic entanglement of fingers. 

She then continued to talk to me as though I was a person named Brian, and she had some messages to be delivered to someone (a Joe maybe?) of “Hungry Jack Productions” or something like that. I couldn’t piece together what she was telling me, though I must admit that she was stating things very clearly, if not eloquently.

It was as though I was witnessing the social metamorphosis of a human life that would normally take place over a few years. She asked if we could shake hands.  

Against my better judgment (the wise part of my brain that gets the proverbial shaft half the time), I accepted, then quickly began to regret my decision to do so. It’s not because I didn’t know where the hell her hand had been, though I did end up wondering just where the hell that hand had been. 

We began shaking hands, and she became ecstatic. She exclaimed with what appeared to be the pure unadulterated joy that it was “so nice to meet you, Brian!” I told her my name was Jeremy, and that seemed to lift the spirit of the handshaking to new heights. It was as though she was ready to burst. She was jumping up and down, exclaiming how wonderful it was to meet me. She just held fast to my hand, shaking it and shaking it, in a world that looked like pure divine ecstasy. I don't know if this went on for 30 seconds or 30,000 years.

Then…without warning her brow went from high to low.

Her smile vanished. 

While still shaking my hand, she said in very even tones, and not without a razor’s edge of menace: “You’re mine now bitch.”

That was the catalyst I needed to end the conversation there and forever. I withdrew my hand and believe I said something like “Nope, I don’t think so,” or something to that effect, and walked in a direction that did not lead to where I parked my car. 

She then took on a thug-like juxtaposition that included a bit of Hollywood starlet, called me Bryan again, and told me to tell Jimmy that he still owed her for…well, for what I have no clue.   

Why Am I Writing About This? Isn't this just standard interaction with a homeless person in the vicinity of L.A.?

I had worked with the homeless before, many of whom suffer from some form of mental illness. I believe this individual was no different, so I was not mad. She lived in a different world, with different rules, and from what I could tell harmless. It did leave me with an odd feeling that lingered for a bit. There was the imaginative part of me that thought “what if she is a witch and her statement carries power to modify the world, including the power to make me her bitch?!”

Of course, that is only the comic book part of my mind, and the effect of her words on my comic book mind soon wore off.

I am grateful for the comic book part of my brain, the part that does not see anything as impossible. It is critical that this part of the brain is activated, challenged, and sharpened with seemingly odd circumstances.

She was a blessing disguised as a very high and mentally aberrant individual who had a confused but overall good heart. Of course, I could be wrong. She may have been a sociopath, or an actress practicing for a part, or just really super high. 

In any case, at that time she was living on the outside of societal norms, and prompted this post. I say, bless the outcasts. May they always disrupt our “normal” lives that are often just as deluded as theirs.