Yesterday one of my co-workers, let's just call her Denise (since that's her real name), was let go. Denise was a bizarre lady from New Jersey. She had a distinct, nasal Eastern accent, dressed tackier than a garden gnome, and possessed an unhealthy obsession for horses. The very first day she moved into her cubicle, she junked it up with glittery picture frames, assorted baubles, trinkets, ceramic knickknacks, and old photographs. She was eccentric and loud. She spent all of her free time with her ex-husband, who lives down the street from her. She was such a delightfully weird, freakish woman. Her constant bantering was often a welcome interruption into a slow day at work. Too bad she was incompetent. Despite her long years as a teacher and educator, she seemed incapable of handling simple tasks. To her, a computer was like a mystical creature that had to be tamed, usually by yelling at it and making loud claims that it was possessed. So no more Denise. But it was an interesting 6 weeks.
There just aren't enough strange people in my life. When I look around me, all I see are relatively normal, non-deranged, everyday people. It's getting on my nerves. I miss the odd-balls.
Like the crazy Parisian at my first job home from France, who did phone surveys with a voice so high-pitched it often became inaudible. I remember clearly her pale, mullet-like blonde hair, the gap in her front teeth... She couldn't pronounce the word "or" (she said "of"), and complained long and loud that our job had no good "benefit." It turned out she was the ex-wife of my French professor, who told me he divorced her because she went crazy. According to her: "Je lui ai foutu par le porte" (I kicked him the eff out).
Then there was Margo, one of my favorites. She lived in the French city of Poitiers, and spent most of her life walking her dogs. She was from Philadelphia, and kept her brash Eastern mannerisms and harsh American accent intact despite her ten years living abroad. She carried baby wipes on her outings and would wipe her dogs' rear-ends whenever they relieved themselves on the sidewalk (which was frequent). I got the feeling the locals were afraid of her. Sometimes I would pass her as she sat in a cafe, energetically gesturing at someone across the table, an acquaintance or a stranger, whose eyes were usually wide with shock, desperately maintaining an uncomfortable smile.
So many loonies, so many memories. These three examples are of women, but I've known my fair share of crazy men: one who communicated primarily in long, cartoonish giggles, one who kept the pre-packaged photos of pretty girls in the frames to display around his home, and my Senegalese friend, Ass Faye, who has no idea his first name is so comical.
Charming eccentrics, all of them. But they're in low supply these days. I need to meet more weirdos. I would turn to the internet but it's too full of the creepy, molest-a-child kinds of weirdos. I want the harmless kind. But where is one to go? Not the library or the park; too many normal families. Not Wal-Mart; too many rednecks. Not church; too many purposeful believers.
I will have to wander the streets, seeking out the strange, the funky, the socially backward. Perhaps my journey will be long, fraught with regular encounters and everyday exchanges. But I will persevere. I will not shrink. Be afraid, freaks of the planet, I'm coming for you.