I didn’t take any more notice of it until I was at the pool. The guy on the bench next to me is telling this other guy that “NO MAN, THIS IS LIQUID FOOD.” He’s very earnest in that zealous true-believer sort of fashion. He taps his backpack, clearly the liquid food is in there. “It’s not like energy from an energy drink, this is energy that your body gets from breaking down the energy in the food.” Yes, those are called calories. “It’s real food, man. I use it when I’m working out, and I feel like a million bucks.” Hmmm, maybe it’s the liquid food. And maybe it’s because you are crazy. The story doesn’t really do justice to this guy. I’m sure it’s a little like seeing Tom Cruise on Oprah on TV versus being there in the studio audience. This guy was Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch crazy. Trust me. But two crazy people don’t make for Crazy Person Day. Not by a long shot.
What does make for Crazy Person Day? A guy with a heavy accent coming up to you in the locker room as you are changing (this is after the swim that was preceded by Mr. Liquid Food) and telling you first off that sometimes he gets in trouble for speaking his mind. This is followed by some mostly unintelligible oratory about telling a Chinese (or Chinese-American) person, who may or may not have been having a conversation with an “Indian” woman (not sure if Indian or Southeast-Asian, for reasons which will become clear) about how “WHITE PEOPLE MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT.” Did I mention that I’d never seen this man before, and I did not make any sort of “please come and spout crazy to me” gesture to him. Nevertheless, he felt compelled, with cap and goggles still on (goggles on the forehead) in the locker room, to tell me this. Is it because I am a white person, and therefore we have some solidarity? I don’t know. He seemed to be of Middle-Eastern heritage, although some of that may be the bias that Glendale has a great deal of Armenians, so perhaps with the accent I didn’t recognize, I just assumed he was Armenian. As I write this, I think I figured out what happened. I think the Chinese woman asked HIM if he was Indian, which offended his sensibilities, prompting him to tell her that he was white and that white people made this country great. Yeah, I could see how if you equated saying things like that to “speaking your mind,” that you might get in trouble. His accent and general craziness made figuring out details a challenge. I think crazy was probably the big factor. At the end, as he walks over to his locker, he concludes with “so I just had to walk away.” Of course you did. Thankfully, I had completed changing while he was being crazy, so on the off chance that he wasn’t going to wear his cap and goggles and speedo as he drove the crazymobile home, I thought I could escape. Which I did, much to my relief.
The final confirmation that this was no ordinary day came was I was out riding for the second time, when Miss Yuppie-Audi-A3-driver calmly slows down, puts on her right ticker signal, and then makes a hard and fast left turn into her driveway. I thought about reenacting the scene from “Full Metal Jacket”: You are dumb, Private Pyle, but do you expect me to believe that you don’t know left from right? But who knows what that might have led to. I tried to minimize any sort of human interaction for the remainder of the day lest I meet more crazies, but fortunately, the checkout clerk at Whole Foods was as normal as any Whole Foods employee can be expected to be, and the guy who was at the deli in front of me buying brisket didn’t ask for it to be sliced into exactly 3.14159oz. slices or anything like that.
As the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. I think this is especially true in Southern California, but then again, it’s this sort of stuff that keeps life interesting. However, I will say that I could deal with my life being less interesting as it relates to crazy people behind the wheel while I am on my bicycle. I’m hopeful that Mr. Liquid Food comes back, since the only thing that I saw him pull out of his secret napsack was a bottle of Suave Naturals shampoo. Then again, given the way things turned out, if he’d popped the top and guzzled the contents, it wouldn’t have surprised me in the least. Mr. Speaks-His-Mind, well, I hope he discovers his inner monologue.