There’s this guy that stands on the corner in front of a rundown old convenience store a few miles down the road from my house. He’s a tall, lanky fellow and spends most of his time yelling at something unseen by the naked eye. This invisible specter stands just behind him and a little to the left and apparently it’s either ten feet tall or it levitates. Crazy corner man looks over his shoulder, wags his finger, and has all sorts of things to say to it, none of them pleasant, I gather. I have no idea what he’s actually saying. I roll up my windows and lock my doors like all white, middle class Americans.
The other day, as I was making a u-turn in order to avoid him, this thought occurred to me:
Maybe I am crazy corner man!
Not literally, of course, I have things like air conditioning, indoor plumbing, and food, but there is a sense in which crazy corner man and I share a kind of fellowship. He speaks, I write, but the reaction to what he’s saying and what I’m writing isn’t all that different. Once people read my work, their demeanor towards me changes. Almost no one responds and I can only assume they’re operating off the old “if you can’t say anything nice …” adage, but it goes even deeper than that. They avoid me, don’t look me in the eye, walk the other way when they see me coming, don’t respond to my emails, texts, midnight calls, and they call the police when they spot me peering through their windows. I’m paranoid by nature, but what if,
… god forbid …
… I’m just not that good?
Should I quit? Sometimes I want to. No one wants to be a laughing stock.
But crazy corner man doesn’t quit. He keeps going and doesn’t give a damn what the rest of us think. He yells and stands in the street and points at cars and exposes himself to children (Maybe, I don’t know). People honk at him and swerve and call the police and give him the finger if they’re feeling brave or they’re out of stabbing range, but crazy corner man never lets it deter him. He just keeps yelling at that imaginary beast over his shoulder and if you don’t like it, you can go down to the county offices, fill out the proper paper work, file it in triplicate, wait six months for it to be approved, wait another six months for him to get assigned a case worker, then go to court and get a stern reprimand from the judge who tells you that if he locked up every Tom, Dick, and Harry who talked to himself, there wouldn’t be anyone left in free society.
I think crazy corner man has inspired me. I’ll keep at it.
Until I snap and kill you all.