Here’s the part where I lose some of my Haverhill friends. I don’t care.
In any city there’s a guy like “Crazy Mike.”
The stereotype is usually a long beard, ratty clothes and the fellow is usually living on the street. He talks aloud to no one in particular and falls asleep on playground equipment.
People like to laugh at him.
I’m no saint. I’ve made my share of fun of people like this, and in the rear-view mirror, looking back at my own struggle with mental illness, it makes me feel ashamed. It makes me the last guy on Earth who would be fit to judge others for poking fun at someone less fortunate.
But I have to believe that God put me through those earlier experiences in the hope that I’d come out of it wiser and more compassionate. If I in fact have, then I need to be the guy to stand up for “Crazy Mike” and others like him. I need to start by never making fun of someone in that condition again and, if I’m lucky, take a few people with me.
A friend of mine mentioned today that he was more than a little disappointed in some of his friends for “liking” a Facebook page dedicated to “Crazy Mike.” I looked up the page to find that the page has 1,166 “likes.”
The description of Mike reads: “Walking any and everywhere, Yelling at cars, Using imaginary machine guns, talking to myself, Having a court trial while walking down the sidewalk, Screaming racial slurs, Sleeping in and around Building #19 1/16, Lighting chips on fire in Market Basket.”
He yells at cars, you say? We all yell at cars. It’s just that we’re usually behind the wheel pissed off because someone cut us off in traffic.
Using imaginary machine guns? I’ve seen plenty of so-called sane people do that while talking about their favorite scene from “Lethal Weapon” or “Con-Air.”
Screaming racial slurs? That’s wrong of him, but many of us have used the same awful slurs. Not because we are racists, but because we tend to master stupid talk when we’ve had a bit much to drink.
Talking to himself? I do that all the time, and I’ll bet more than a few of the “Crazy Mike” page likers do it, too.
Sleeping in front of Building 19? That’s just because he’s not as lucky as those of us who have a home to sleep in. I’m sure there are twenty-somethings who like that page and still enjoy the comforts of their parents’ houses.
It would be easy for me to say you people are hypocrites and shitheads. But I am, too, so I would just be piling on another layer of hypocrisy.
Instead I’ll just end with this:
We are all God’s children. We are all crazy to varying degrees.
We all have the capacity for big acts of wisdom and bigger acts of stupidity.
Instead of laughing at this “Crazy Mike,” just thank God you’re not in his shoes.
I’d like to know more about Mike, now. We all have a history that molds us into who we are. I’m wondering about his story.
Did he fight a war and come home with post-traumatic stress disorder? Maybe, maybe not.
But if nothing else, his story — one of mental illness — deserves to be told.