The Sidewalk Buddha Looks After All of Us

Okay, first a little note about Live Journal.

I think this venue is all but completely dead. I don’t know about you other LJ’ers, but something like 95% of my received comments are now spam from Eastern European nations. I mean I guess I get that it’s no use spamming people whose lives are just as shitty as yours, i.e., your fellow Eastern Europeans, but come on guys. I can’t even read these gigantic text blocks of alien glyphs, much less refuse the semi-pornographic services I can only assume they’re offering.

I’ve been vaguely planning a move to my own personal domain for a long time. I should really get on that. I will get on that.

But that’s not what this is about, really. This post is about looking busy so as not to call attention to the fact that I’m so miserably alone. It’s about distracting myself from the beautiful, aloof barista who taunts me each week with her bouncy blonde hair. That’s right, blonde. Call it an expanding of horizons.

Also I had a thought on the (bi)cycle* over here.

So sometimes, especially around the Bay Area, but really everywhere that’s not a gated community populated exclusively by Jewish lawyers and doctors, you see a crazy guy or guys on the street corner, talking loudly (or softly) to everyone and no one. I say “crazy” without having personally known any of these people because, by virtue of them talking at unusual volumes to and/or at people with whom they have no prior connection, it seems likely that crazy is what these people are. They are instantly noticed by the non-crazy, with jarring results.

“Tmp, tmp, tmp, tmp,” you walk. All of a sudden:

“‘. . . for TWO sides of gravy,’ I said to him that dark and dreary evening. I said TWO sides of gravy.”

A man disheveled starts it up with you, except that in his head, he’s already been talking to you.

“No thank you,” you respond nervously and hasten your step. “Tmptmptmptmp.”

A block later, you stop for a moment and blush. “‘No thank you’? Stupid.” You are embarrassed by your knee-jerk and nonsensical reaction to the crazyman (pronounced CRAY-zə-min). At least his nonsense was justified, if, in fact, he was crazy.

You continue with your day, a lesson learned but likely not to be applied.

Last Monday, I (bi)cycled to work. At the corner of Delaware and 2nd, I saw one such man. He was African-American I think, though if he were African-Canadian or Cameroonian but with an impeccable American accent and attire, I could surely have been deceived.

The man was of a complacent, though decidedly crazy, disposition. “Murmur murmur talk talk,” he said. I couldn’t make out what he said.

The light turned red and I came to a stop. I put three fingers to my heart to confirm that it was still beating normally, as goes the obsessive habit that I have developed over time. As several people passed the man on foot, he said several isolated things to and past each of them, slogan style. He did not care that they were not listening. I could not make out the things that he said, but could tell by his demeanor that they were thematically positive.

“Thump. . thump . .” went my heart. Relieved, I removed my fingers. The man took notice of me and, without pausing from his previous slogan, called out to/past me.

“Don’t give up.”

This I heard clearly.

It’s a funny thing about words like “crazy” and “weird” and “creepy”. The truth is, I dislike these words, specifically because they demonize or ostracize men and women of this sort. It’s not clear if this man said “Don’t give up” because I was essentially performing CPR on myself in public, or because he assumed I was in a race, or because he and only he saw the sandworm quickly closing in on me. But it might have been that he was just nice and free of inhibition. In fact, whether crazy or not, the fact is, he was being nice and uninhibited that morning. These are two things that I and many like me aspire to be.

As the light turned green and I pedaled off, I thought for a moment about all the supposedly well-adjusted people whose company I would unhesitatingly exchange for this man’s. He might have been the or a Buddha. For all the fuss over Americans being open, loud, and jovial, the reality is that most of us are afraid to even reach out and say “hello” to our fellow countryman (pronounced: CUN-tree-min), lest we be seen as crazy by the beautiful, aloof blonde girl on the sidewalk running parallel to ours.

*Do folks say “cycle” in the States? Can I say “I cycled to the Jamba Juice,” or does that sound like some kind of obscure way of saying my trips to Jamba Juice are a recurring habit? You know, like, “Mufasa died, but later he cycled back in the form of a dust cloud. It was beautiful.” Sorry, spoilers.

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