Sunday, July 24, 2005

Neighbouhood Crazos

"Crazo" is my term for crazy people. I live in Crazytown - I describe my neighbourhood as "colourful" which is code for ample crazy people. There's a bar just around the corner from me that is frequented by drunken, mentally unstable people from pretty much 11 am on, every day. They're friendly, harmless crazos, but crazos none the less. All races, both male and female, all ages, they've met each other at this bar and they're buddies. War vets, gangster looking folks, trailer trash looking folks, disabled folks. Who all love booze and who all love this bar. On the way to the park with the mutters, I pass them all the time. The dog loves them, and of course they all call her over and she wiggles around and does the kidney bean dance and is happy for the attention. So much for my big bad intimidating dog that you'd think would keep these people away.

Then, there's the coffee shop by the park. More crazos. Younger hip hop looking guys and their girlfriends whose collection of pitbulls seems to grow by the week. "Yo!" they call to me as we walk by, "Is that a pitbull?" And so I meet the coffee shop gang. They also seem harmless but literally they spend every day hanging out at the coffee shop - I don't know what they do for money. They light firecrackers in the park and drive suped-up sedans to and from their local hangout.

There's The Old Hat Guy With The Big Black Dog who I see three times a day, every day without fail. He looks like a gentle soul and he knows everyone in the neighbourhood. I first met him over a year ago when I didn't even live around here. In the park.

And Victor, my newest neighbourhood pal, is a hippy looking guy about 35. He's an interesting guy with so many stories. He's a pothead, who revealed to me that The Old Hat Guy With The Big Black Dog is the local pot dealer in the hood. No wonder he knows everyone.

Victor seems quite normal in fact, and doesn't seem like a crazo to begin with. He's charming and really intelligent and actually kind of good looking. But there's a touch of crazo there. He's decided that him and I should be friends and he's always around when I'm walking the dog, so he just sort of joins the walk and tells me stories about his life. Unfortunately he's found out where I live and sometimes knocks on my door. He brings me books to read and treats for the dog and asks me a zillion questions. I've had discussions with him about autism, feral children, wildlife, the environment, and probably a million other things. He's all over the place. It's like my own personal Discovery Channel - this guy knows so many random facts about science and sociology.

Victor was a hardcore drug addict at one point. He constantly references "going through a lot of personal and mental issues". I get the feeling he was probably institutionalized at some point. He was married for almost 8 years. He volunteers as a cook at community centres for people with mental and physical disabilities. I don't think he has a real job. He reads a ton of self help books. For 6 months he was a Born-Again Christian and approached total strangers about Asking The Lord Jesus Christ Into Their Hearts. Then one day, poof, he wasn't a Born-Again Christian anymore.

He is very particular about language - words and their exact meanings. Hearing someone use the wrong word for something drives him nuts. I had a twenty minute discussion with him once about the difference between "honesty" and "integrity". He is constantly analyzing me, saying you seem this, or you seem that, and then asking if he's right in his analysis of me. He soaks in information like a sponge - and wants a lot of it - Victor's favourite phrase has got to be "Please elaborate." I think he's an interesting guy and you know, I actually like talking to him, except that, oh yeah, I'm worried he's in love with me.

Generally, I seem to have a tattoo on my forehead that says "Crazos, please talk to me!" so I'm quite used to meeting, uh, colourful people...but sometimes this neighbourhood can be a bit much even for me.

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