Thursday, May 15, 2008

love is more important than an ostrich

So I'll bet you all have wondered if I have any good mental ward stories, since I spent some time in there, right?? And duh, of course the answer is yes. And for some reason I was thinking about one today.

It happened like this. There was this guy in the ward that we called Wrong Way Peachfuzz. He was nicknamed after that character from the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, who was like the worst sea captain ever- he always went the wrong way from the direction he was supposed to be going. And so this guy in our ward, our Wrong Way, he always went the opposite way of whichever way we were supposed to go for groups or clinics or rec time or whatever. And he'd also always go into other people's rooms thinking they were his room, even after they made a big sign in red Sharpie taped to the door of his room with his name on it. Wrong Way was just really, really mentally far gone. He was in another dimension and would weave in and out of his and into ours. He was a scruffy old OG, his wiry long hair poking out wildly from under his old skool gangsta bandana. The great thing about Wrong Way, though, was that he has so sweet and friendly and harmless that everyone- staff & patients alike- totally loved him. He was lovable in the kinda insane way that Charles Manson would be lovable if every element of evil and naughtiness and bad intention was suddenly mysteriously sucked out of his body and only the crazy was left.

Wrong Way lived in a fantasy world... shuffling around the ward (high levels of certain medications will give you the Psych Ward Shuffle, which is very different from the Curly Shuffle, but much closer to the Ozzy Ozbourne Stagger mixed with a touch of Romero Zombie Extra Shamble) ... telling us all stories of the million acres of land outside of El Paso that he owned, and about his ranch filled exotic creatures like donkeys and peacocks and cows and and crocodiles, and about all the movies that he had been in, and how the helicopter that his family owned that was going to land in the rec yard outside and pick him up so he could go have tea with Jay J. Armes. The dude also randomly burst into the funniest giggles every time he would talk. Oh man it would make all of us laugh too, you know how hysterical laughter can be infectious (especially if the giggler has a funny sounding laugh)?? So picture that, a group of us in the lounge of A PSYCH WARD, all grouped around Wrong Way and giggling in hysterics while the nurse on duty nervously eyed us and glanced around for the security techs. Ha ha.

Yeah, Wrong Way would say the most insane, random, yet bizarre things but occasionally, occasionally, he would say the most inadvertently WISE things sometimes. He was like our psych ward guru.

So one day, over breakfast (we ate like elementary school style, at long industrial tables with long industrial attached benches, which is oh-so-comfortable considering you are closely surrounded on every single side by some people who may have an episode at any given second) We are eating the lovely rubber bacon and cardboard toast with an atom of butter on it, and Wrong Way is proposing marriage to me. This wasn't too unusual, marriage proposals to the female patients and female staff and female visitors and female doctors, etc, were just another one of Wrong Way's things. And he's telling me how if I marry him, I can live on the ranch and that he has a mansion there, and that I can have as many animals as I want. He says that I can even have ostriches- ostriches! he was soo excited when he said that word, as if he was Charlie saying theeee golden tickettttt- on the ranch. He told me I should think about it.

Then he says- "If there is somebody else that you love, though, and you wanna marry them instead, that's ok, you should do that, because... you know... love is more important than an ostrich."

And I sat there, marveling at how some of the wisest shit you can ever hear can come from some of the craziest sources you'd never expect. Lesson learned. Keep your ears open.


Anonymous said...

Indeed, psychos, drunks and kids can be far more honest and pure than most "sane" and b-nice-to-not-hurt-anyone people.

Anonymous said...

At a friend's wedding reception a long time ago, me and my (future) wife sat next to the longest married couple there who had just danced as a part of the fun. They sat down next to us and said that the only tip or advice they could ever give was to never go to sleep angry. I can't tell you how many times we haven't listened, but it is still great advice.