Flickr photograph by super-structure.
THE DAY I WENT CRAZY
by Andreas Economakis
I’ve always been a little superstitious. Okay, I don’t wig out if a black cat crosses my path (maybe because I once read that the Portuguese consider the black cat a sign of good luck), but I do make a point of putting on my left sock first every morning. I don’t know why I do this, it’s just that I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. Call it a part of my routine, call it some kind of DNA signature, this left sock thing has never done me wrong. I’m alive and kicking to prove it.
I guess you could say I believe in signs. So you can imagine what was running through my head when my girlfriend Justina mentioned that our 8-year relationship was in trouble on the exact same day that our cat Buddy was run over in the driveway by our idiot neighbor Quentin. Yup, the meaning of this wasn’t lost on me. After all, Buddy had been our very first kitten and he was probably the sweetest of our cats. People need symbols and Buddy became a symbol of our relationship, a symbol of our budding love. At least for me. And as anyone who’s ever believed in something will tell you, when a symbol dies, well then the thing that it represents dies as well.
Justina moved out shortly after Buddy’s death, the very day after I celebrated my thirtieth birthday. It was nice of her not dumping me on my birthday, all in all. Okay, it sucked that I had to spend the day all alone (Justina had once again feigned a heavy work load at school, leaving me a cupcake and a pink Hallmark card by the key dish), and it also sucked that my free birthday eggs at Denny’s were watery, cold and tasteless, but at least I was still in a relationship. Or so I believed. When my girlfriend showed up with a moving van the next day, I worried that this cataclysmic event would influence all of my thirties. I shivered in dread.
How would the relationship ads read? “30 year old male, shy, not too bald, with nice smile, totally dependent and mono-focused on his ex-girlfriend, is now totally and utterly alone and looking for companionship. A pretty decent cook, likes animals and enjoys romantic Sunday afternoon hikes up Runyan Canyon.” “Ugh, just shoot me here and now and get it over with,” I thought to myself. Ads aside, a bigger dilemma was now at hand: what does one do with oneself when not in a relationship?
Suddenly the accidental bachelor, I hit the streets looking for answers. All I saw were happy couples and groups of friends, everyone smiling and jocular and together. The only solitary people I came across were either crazy or passed out from drugs or alcohol or poverty. That’s when it occurred to me. Insanity is the quickest way out of a broken heart. Everyone feels pity for a young man who loses his marbles, even if those marbles were all there but a week before. And what’s even better is that when one does actually go crazy, nothing is expected of him. It’s like total freedom. How cool is that? I decided to go insane without further ado. I rushed home all excited, eager to set my new plan in motion.
First off, I would have to get rid of my cats, for a crazy man cannot follow a routine of feeding pets and cleaning up after them. I loved them dearly and so deliberated a long time before leaving them and the remaining supply of cat food on my girlfriend’s doorstep (I was still having a hard time annunciating the prefix “ex”). Justina may not love me anymore, but she must surely have a soft spot in her heart for the cats. Right? I mean, they’d been with us for so many years and they slept with us every night, albeit on my side of the bed (Justina always insisted that they preferred my side, though I knew she swished and swooshed her feet under the covers to chase them away). I decided to not leave a note as that would give her an opportunity to return the cats with a reply.
The next step was to clear out of the apartment. I meticulously gathered all the shreds of my life and bagged them in Smart & Final jumbo garbage bags (“curiously spot on this company name,” I thought as I stuffed my outdated cd collection and utilitarian Ikea cd racks in one of the bags). I hauled the bags a few blocks away, tossing them in a restaurant dumpster. Almost like an omen, Fabio, the faux-Italian longhaired model/actor smiled and waved at me as I walked in front of his shiny peach-colored sports car just off of Melrose. “I’m friends with Fabio?” I wondered as he drove away. I was now more than ever convinced that my plan must be working, that surely I must be going insane.
I drank my last celebratory beer on the dusty floor of my apartment, staring at the clumps of cat hair that floated about the now empty living room. As a token to my new found life, I bit down on the can until my mouth started to bleed. I smeared the sticky blood all over my face, screamed at the top of my lungs and rushed out of the apartment all bleary-eyed but determined, leaving the door wide open. That was the last time I ever went through that door. My new life snatched me up and propelled me forward.
I found a safe place to sleep next to a burnt out building on Spaulding. I dreamt that my girlfriend was trying to wake me up by tickling my eyelashes with her hair. I kept brushing her hair away, trying to prolong the dream of her tickling my eyelashes. I woke up shivering after swatting my nose. A huge cockroach fell off my face and scurried under my jacket. I jumped up and started ripping my clothes off, trying to find the roach. I couldn’t find it and so I decided to shuffle off, cursing and trying to rearrange my torn clothes. I quickly realized that I was barefoot. Someone had stolen my shoes and my socks while I slept. The significance of my new predicament didn’t escape me. Without a left sock to put on first, what did fate have in store for me?
I walked on, vowing to take a straight line down Spaulding, vowing to go straight until I could go straight no longer. I could not for the life of me fathom making a right or a left. That would be calamitous. Two nervous women walked by, stepping on the grass next to the sidewalk so as not to come too close to me (oh, you think I didn’t notice, but I did…). I decided to mimic them and stepped on the grass as well. Shit, I inadvertently made a right! I cringed and quickly shielded my head, expecting a lightning bolt to scream out of the sky and strike me between the eyes. That’s when I stubbed my toe on a sawed-off tree trunk. I fell without grace, clutching my injured toe and tipping backwards. I smacked my head on the edge of the sidewalk, snapping my neck in the process. I died a couple of minutes later, amused by all the confused voices and sirens competing for space in my increasingly tranquil brain.
This piece is part of a collection of stories on blindness entitled: The Blindness of Life.
Copyright © 2010, Andreas Economakis. All rights reserved.
For more stories by Andreas Economakis click on the author’s name below.