The eight crazies you meet in Santa Monica

I saw eight interesting people in the last hour in my town. Seven of them were crazies. I can’t wait to put them all in my book.

The first – the only one who might not have been crazy – was an oversized bulldog of a man, 5′ 11″ and 200 lbs, who wore blue jeans, scuffed white sneakers, a white shirt and a Yankees cap with a flat brim pushed slightly to the side. He had blue eyes, lost in the fat and his stubble, and he listened to a personal radio. He held his shoulders pushed forward; he was mute, but walked with purpose, fueled by rage.

The second – the first crazy – was a man in his fifties, with tan, leathered skin. He wore a yellow polo shirt matched with plastic blue shorts that did not quite reach his mid-thigh. He wore sunglasses, though it was cold out, and white tube socks pulled up to mid-calf, a style that has been unpopular since the day those socks were invented. On his feet he wore New Balance sneakers, once white, now muddied and black – why has the muddied once-white New Balance sneaker evolved in the popular choice of today’s hobo on the go?

The fourth and third were an item. He: black wool cap, black leather jacket, black pants. Black sunglasses; hair flowing and orange and coupled with a beard, he looked like a vaguely Irish-German hobo Jesus, on the prowl for drugs and miracles. She: an Asian girl with short black hair shaved down and spiked, save for one wave that swelled from her left temple and crested across one side of her skull. She cradled herself in a red shawl, which stretched just below the waist of her pants that hemmed just below her ankle line, giving way to a patch of skin on her open-top shoes. She had a neck tattoo – surely, it was inspired by a previous boyfriend’s in the same place, a piece of skin art that she undoubtedly loved to snuggle up against and lick – and a matching one on her foot, same side as the neck tat and the sweep: left side.

Number five jogged across the intersection like a stiff-backed, handicapped gazelle-man centaur. It was like a computer approximation of striding with back straight and knees reaching up toward Jesus. He was Asian, in glasses, in his forties or fifties, wearing white slacks and a blue jacket and looking very recently removed from an 80’s comedy role as a stereotypical foreign tourist.

Numbers six and seven dueled for supremacy across an intersection. Six: the brown woman. Jacket, blouse, pants, even open-toed sandals all in various shades of brown: ecru, mocha, chocolate, taupe. So creepy. Across from her, the carriage lady. She pushed her things in a pram as though her torn rags and trinkets were a baby.

The eighth, and most aggressive – the craziest crazy I met – ambushed me in the parking lot of my apartment building, where he’d stolen my space. He couldn’t wait to start talking to me about my new car, which, yes, is nice but the way he comported himself – damn. Hands always going down to his pockets, where he pressed his palms obviously against his hipbones. For the pleasure of the sensation? I’m not sure, and I don’t really want to know if I do happen to be right. He spoke animatedly, never leaving a half-second’s break in conversation, and took the ball and ran with it to bring up all sorts of digressions and stories-tied-to-stories about his life that never left me a chance to steer the conversation toward, “Nice to meet you, good luck; I’m leaving now.” He also sucked loudly on his spittle when he talked – and this was not an old, drooling man, he was either a post-drug abuse late thirty-something or a forty-something – which was distracting, gross, and made me think that he might carry a knife. Not because he looked to use it, but because he’d be beaten like a mouse more than a few times and was ready to stab somebody if things got too crazy. Or the pink elephants came back.

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