Beware the suburban streets for they are rife with squares and weirdos and underneath the veneer one never knows what lurks... i realize very well i most definitely fall into the latter category if we are going by what passes for "normal" under the bubble in which i reside, a bubble often talked about among the denizens who live under said bubble but one can always be shocked by what one might stumble upon while taking out the garbage on a Monday night.
One could surmise i don't really grasp the suburban mindset, i deal with it and try to understand it but i'm not one for block parties or dinner with the neighbors and all the usual stuff that goes on out here in the burbs. Mainly because i know that if i speak freely i'll be classified as the King Weirdo of my little hamlet. Not that i give a shit but i take into account the boyos have to get through a few more years of school here and i don't want them to have to deal with their old man being the town wacko... though i don't think i have to worry about that as the sewing circle will always have some scandals to talk about, say the local mom who is making a mint in the porn business. Funny thing is Porn Mom and i were once talking at basketball tryouts, her son being in the same grade as the I-mac, and it wasn't until a year or two later that the I-mac told me the news, that the woman had gotten into porn and was raking in the dough, i chuckled and said that had i known i would have made her my assistant coach and put her kid on my team... i explained to the I-mac i was joking... or was i? Fact is underneath the veneer of the Better Homes and Gardens lifestyle lived out here there is weirdness everywhere (depending on which angle you're coming from).
And so it was as i stood in the dark examining the twinkling stars, silhouetted by the garage light while dragging down the recycling and trash i was stopped by a woman who commented on how organized my garage was which should have been a tip off because my garage while being not in total disarray is not what one would call well organized. I realized that this was nothing more that a pretext to start a conversation which would end up being both interesting, entertaining and frightening all at the same time. The back wall of the garage is covered with rock and roll posters given to me in various records purchased over the years which instead of piling up in some drawer i decided to hang in the garage to give me the guise of hip suburban dad or some such shit and while i can't be sure this woman saw them or knew any of the bands i'm guessing just by the art on some of them she decided i might be a kindred spirit... and in all actuality i probably am... with just a few slight differences.
So this woman, who was walking her dog, struck up a conversation. It somehow turned to politics and education and we soon found out we were very much on the same page. We discussed a society plagued by a lack of critical thinking skills, by an education system that still seemed to stress filling in circles on multiple choice tests instead of a system based on writing and reading and understanding information, a system based on test taking and not learning, a college education system set up to get one a job and not the knowledge and education it was originally meant to do. It was all very interesting but like most things, if you study them long enough you begin to find out things may not be quite as they seem.
The woman then told me her name was Krystal and asked if i felt isolated out here in the burbs as i was not the norm, just as she was not the norm, and that we were like castaways trapped in bizarre and somewhat hostile environment. I told her that while i understood her point, which was very valid, that i did and did not. That i just am and wherever i happen to be i make the best of it because that's where i am and that's really all i can do. We discussed a bit of Alan Watts, whom we both like to listen to but only one of us had read (me), and on many things we had very similar views. She was originally from Cali and had a rather relaxed attitude about certain things, see psychedelics, though she had never used them and only recently tried some pot gummies that she said she really enjoyed but that for the most part her anxiety kept her from trying anything stronger to which i of course recommended her certain strains of grass and the use of mushrooms backed up with some studies and the like about their effectiveness in treating said things.
It was about this point where i realized Krystal might not be all there and i listened with interest as i saw the patterns in her strange tales. She first talked about growing up in California where it turns out that though Krystal hadn't tried grass she did take a liking to a certain white powder. She then began regaling me with tales of her youth where she stated that she was incredibly beautiful and attracted an endless amount of male attention but now in her mid 50s all her glory had faded, her words not mine. I just stood by and listened. This came about as she talked about her son, who now in his mid-20s, was a mess she said, a stoner who loved heavy metal and didn't get out much, had never had a girlfriend, a point she blamed herself for because when he was a child she didn't date and he had no male role models around. She stated she had heard stories about coaches taking kids under their wing to help them but that never happened to her son and that she felt his growth had been stunted.
It was here that i began noticing what seemed like a certain cycle in her tales... when discussing her son's youth they were living in Vegas and she had some serious health issues that laid her up for a year and prevented her from working and moving. The same thing was happening now. She had been unable to work for various reasons due to a multitude of ailments real or imagined, who was i to say. She mentioned again how stunningly beautiful she was when she was young, she then had to sit down on the lawn due to some strange calf ailment all the time talking a blue streak about her past. I began to wonder about her mental state and even now i wonder if she even remembers the conversation. Having had a boss who exhibited the same signs it seemed to me she was in a manic state, full of energy and ideas, she had five screenplays in the works, one all about her son and how to fix him, because as she put it, since she couldn't do it in real life she was going to do it in the movies. Needless to say after about 40 minutes of this i was really just trying to get the trash and recycling out, something i commenced doing as she kept on talking.
I've always been a bit of a magnet for the misfits of the world, most likely because i fall into that category myself except maybe i manage to navigate things a bit better.. mainly i'm better at concealing the fact i'm a fucking weirdo and understand that if i start espousing my ideas and theories on the world i'll most likely freak out the squares of the burbs. As stated Krystal and i were on the same page when it came to many things but i understood the signs of someone who may have been hanging by a thread, maybe unknowingly needing an ear and so i stood and listened. She wanted to be my friend, she gave me her number and told me to put it in my phone. She waved and yelled hello to the BW when she popped her head out the door to see what i was doing and said we needed to hang out. We discussed the medicinal properties of magic mushrooms and Ayahuasca and the potential of psychedelics in helping humanity. She had never tripped and was fascinated by my love of psychedelics, by the fact i'd never had a "bad" trip, how i thought the world would be a better place if everyone took these substances at least once in their lives to help them understand that we are not the masters of this world but a small part of it. I'm sure right now she may be writing a screenplay about a crazy neighbor who devours hallucinogens.
Krystal kept talking and telling me that i was not the norm, that did i understand that my mind, like hers, did not work in the same way, she was amazed to learn that i'd never had writer's block or what one could consider writer's block and we traded theories on writing, she continued to ask how i could handle living in the burbs and i explained that i could handle living anywhere because that's where i was, she told me i was a strange bird in the best possible way, she asked how i could not feel isolated and i told her i did much of the time but i was okay with that, like James Baldwin said, all artists are in exiles particularly American ones, though i added i was loathe to call myself an artist or writer but for lack of a better word i guess i was one in my own warped way. It was around this time that the boyo was dropped off by his girlfriend and her mom, he bounded out of the car with his usual "hi dad" and Krystal introduced herself, told him he had a pretty cool dad and then we said our farewells.
As the boyo and i walked up towards the garage he asked who that was and i explained it was a woman who just started talking to me as i took out the garbage, explained that she'd been talking to me for close to an hour and that his arrival had given me a way to extricate myself from the conversation as i didn't want to be rude and i felt as if she needed to talk. I was being kind i told him and laughed, then added but my kindness has limits and i told him i saw the definite symptoms of someone who may be off their meds. I didn't say it in a condescending or joking way, i said random acts of kindness, sometimes people just need to talk and sometimes it's easier to talk to strangers. The suburbs can be a strange place.