Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Crazy in the Food Court

So I was just at a food court. I'd bought a coffee and was listening to music on my MP3 player, tuning out the sounds around me and concentrating on the visuals. Voyeuristic perhaps, but something I like to do. So anyway, there was a crazy person there. No surprise - after all, it's not that uncommon in Toronto to see this kind of person, someone having an animated conversation with himself. This man appeared quite passionate about what he was saying, gesticulating forcefully to make a point as if he were a politician giving a speech on a podium. He didn't seem manic, just agitated. I have no idea whatsoever what he was saying, but I observed him for at least half an hour. He would sit at an empty table, leaning conversationally on it with one elbow, and make a specific point. He would then get up, stroll around and sit at another table, perhaps to repeat the performance or perhaps to carry it on. While walking from table to table, he would be silent, springing to life only once seated.

What struck me about this particular man was that he was really quite well-dressed: he was wearing a beige jacket with matching slacks. He wasn't wearing a tie, but his darker-coloured shirt completed a quite tasteful ensemble. It was all clean and possibly even pressed, and his hair was styled. Someone, whether that's he himself or someone else I have no idea, had clearly groomed him this morning. He seemingly lives somewhere - a house, a shelter, or something - in order to possess a wardrobe and the means of cleaning it, and yet left at quite a decent time in the morning in order to hold court at the food court.

One wonders how he sees the world. The way I see it, it's one of two things: perhaps he somehow imagines a conversation partner in front of him (or an audience of some kind), and in this case has functioning mental capacities but is victim to a breach in the gap between reality and imagination. Otherwise, perhaps there's not much 'normal' going on up there at all and his ongoing soliloquy was merely chatter from half-recalled memories randomly colliding with one another in a brain that has ceased functioning normally. Both are tragedies, and one wonders how to go about solving them. The latter seems rather more irreversible than the former, frankly, though in both cases I don't know what psychiatrists do. Or how psychiatrists find these people to help them.

Scratch that - it's easy enough to find them. Toronto seems to have an epidemic of people-who-talk-to-themselves. I might just notice it more than now, or have fallen victim to old-person's-nostalgia, where I see everything as 'worse than it used to be', but it seems like there is a much larger amount of these people than there used to be. Is anyone talking about why this is? It seems like a useful question to ask.

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