The “Crazy” Lady
Wishing I were more like her.
Retards! In my vulgar Brooklyn way, that’s how I thought of them. Those kids on the short yellow bus. The disabled; the mentally handicapped. At least I learned to use more compassionate language, but still, in the back of my head, I thought of them as somehow inferior. Then, one of them taught me a lesson; an experience I cherish even many decades later.
I was hiking on a hilly, wooded trail in a park near my house. The trail rose to about 3,000 feet. The air was just brisk enough to be invigorating. As the day wore on however, the sun managed to break through the canopy of leaves, enough to drain my strength.
At the base of the hill I found a flat boulder under a shaded-offering tree, so I took off my boots and laid on top of it for a rest. Exhausted, I drifted off into that uncharted territory between wakefulness and dreams. The coolness of the rock worked to relieve the aching in my legs, and I soon entered an even deeper depth of reverie.
The next thing I knew there was a soft touch on my cheek, an angelic, soothing voice whispering to me. “It’s my birthday! I’m having a party. Do you want to come to my birthday party?” She stroked my face and my hair.
Wait a minute! I thought I was in a park somewhere! On a rock! And yet, for that split second all I could think of was her soft touch, the tenderness of her voice, and the heartfelt invitation to a party. I want that! I want more of that!
Then, in sterner tones, a man’s voice. “Come back here, Linda! Leave the man alone!”
I jumped up and roused myself, just in time to see the back of the head of a nice young lady, rejoining her caravan of day-trippers. They were all physically or mentally challenged. They marched back to the van that was transporting them.
I too was transported back into the mundane world of proper etiquette, where people don’t touch you; where it’s frowned upon to look at someone and say, even with sincerity, “Oh, what a lovely face you have! I would so enjoy kissing you!”
I’m old now. It’s been many years since anyone has stroked my face or whispered sweet nothings into my ear. I wonder if that “crazy” lady wasn’t wiser, more genuine than I am, restricted as I am by social norms. Thank you, little lady! Thank you! I love you too. Yes, I’ll go to your birthday party!