There's one thing I miss about living in Harrisonburg, and that's seeing all of the weird people who lived in that tiny little town. I started noticing these people the summer than Martha and I lived downtown in the Straw House. It was nice to be off campus and closer to downtown where all the weirdos would congregate.
For example, there was this fat man who sat on the steps of the courthouse all summer without a shirt on. He sat there all day drinking Mountain Dew, I believe. Eventually, a little skinny kid showed up and sat there with him, bare-chested and sipping Mountain Dew. Or there was this one time I drove to campus for my French class because it was raining, and I saw this old woman pushing a stroller (not a real stroller, mind you, but a stroller intended for dolls), and in the stroller was a small dog that was reclined on its back.
Then there was the teenage guy who would walk around bouncing a ball with a lacrosse stick (are they called sticks? I'm a bad WASP). Maybe he was trying to be like Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but he couldn't find a hockey stick?
I think my favorite was this guy who I later found out was named "Headknocker" (I forget the significance; something about if you called him Headknocker he'd chase after you). Anyway, once I was walking to get ice cream with my friends Doug and Taylor and Headknocker was hanging around Hole in the Wall, the downtown porn shop. I saw him walking toward us and, since I generally like to avoid strangers, especially when you can already tell that they are completely batshit crazy and they aren't actually listening to music through their bright yellow earphones because that's how the voices speak to them, I tried to avoid him. You know, at least not respond to him when he shouted at us, "Jesus is COMING!" (I think I just realized the irony that he was telling us this in front of a porn shop.) Unfortunately, while I was looking down, Taylor started to talk to him, and he pointed at the clouds to our right to show us how Jesus was obviously on his way.
On the way back from ice cream, we saw Headknocker again. This time Doug decided to talk to him. "Hey, look at that sunset over there," Doug said, pointing to where Headknocker had seen Jesus before. "It's really beautiful, huh?"
Headknocker just sort of gave Doug this confused, dumb look and replied, "That's East. The sun sets in the west."
Like I said, I miss those crazy characters. Sure, I see some weird people here, but you eventually you get to the point where even the homeless man wearing a doo-rag made out of garbage bags doesn't even freak you out anymore. Occasionally, though, I will see the normal-looking business man complete will the Jack Abramoff- / Al Capone-style hat and a nice Burberry scarf start to shake and chant softly to himself while waiting for the Red Line. It's people like him that I find more terrifying that the man who sings about how his wife left him for the White Sox. I think it's weird how we're indoctrinated to be afraid of black homeless people when, in fact, it's the rich bank owner who moonlights as a convulsing religious fanatic that really scares the shit out of me.
[I realize, now, that I didn't even get to throw in why I started to write this post. For the sake of brevity, and since I'm at work and I don't want to forget what I'm supposed to be working on, I'll save the segues and clever writing to just say that last night I saw a white woman who looked like she was in her mid-thirties holding a cat straight out in front of her, placing it on a tree trunk, and then pulling it off again. I thought to myself, "Why can't this woman afford a scratching post?" Then I thought, "WHY IS THIS WOMAN SO FUCKING CRAZY?!" She was so very nonchalant about her activity, and I felt bad for the poor cat who was FREAKING OUT, with good reason.
Also, today at lunch I was sitting outside of the office reading my book when I noticed that the student to my left was compulsively (which is, I think, the only appropriate word for it) making origami swans out of pieces of the newspaper. Origami. Swans. Swans. Like, more than ten origami swans.. People would walk by on the way to / from class and kind of give him a look of confusion, but he acted as if this was the most normal thing to do outside of the admissions office. I began to wonder if he only knows how to fold swans. If so, has he thought about learning how to fold other things? How about a frog? A cootie catcher? Because how many swans do you have to fold before you achieve origami fulfillment? When his friend came and met him there, he just folded the swans flat and put them in his bag as if they were nothing. I don't understand.]