I just returned to DC from a weekend up in New York visiting friends and family. It was a great weekend — made out with a girl, though the story isn’t interesting enough to warrant its own post. Funny how it has become such a “no big deal” thing that I don’t even feel compelled to write it up anymore.
Anyway, it was Sunday morning and I get on the LIRR (Long Island Railroad) headed to Penn Station to catch my bus back to DC. I find an empty seat and sit down. All of a sudden this man sitting across the aisle says hello to me. A random man, stranger saying hello to another random stranger on the LIRR. The only reason this would normally happen is if that man is trying to sell me something or wants some type of assistance. To say hello for no other reason than to talk to a stranger is unusual for the LIRR.
This man, named Stacy, appeared to be in his early 30s, wearing a beige jacket, checkered button-down and the beginnings of a receding hairline. I noticed, too, that he had a prosthetic left leg. I turn to him and say hello back. He asks me how I am and we engage in small talk. It only took a matter of seconds for me to realize that this man had a severe mental handicap. What followed was one of the strangest conversations I’ve ever had. The topic of bullying came up and he told me that he was severely bullied when he was a child. It became even more awkward as he described his fantasy of how he wanted to take a baseball bat and bash the brains out of this particular bully and watch a pool of blood drip out. I look around and notice other passengers start to feel uneasy.
My reaction, too, was that of unease. Here I am having a conversation with a one-legged stranger with the brain development of a child talking about beating people to death. Then I had a moment of clarity. Look at this guy. He has no filter. He says and does whatever the fuck he wants to do. His mental handicap seems to have prevented him from picking up on any and all social norms, clues, and appropriateness. It’s almost as if he gives 0 fucks by default. This is his reality that he lives in. It is his own reality. He lives by his own rules and his own perception of the world which is vastly different from our own.
As fucked up as the conversation was that we were having, I suddenly had a ton of respect for the guy — even a little bit of jealousy. He has no fear of approaching and talking to others because his mental handicap has prevented that fear from ever developing. He does not live in a world where fear of approach exists. And here we are with fully developed brains — with the rest of the Forever Alones who have social anxiety and fear to talk to strangers. Are we the ones that are actually handicapped?
So I continued the conversation and learned a lot of awfully odd details about this individual. His stop at New Hyde Park arrived and I thanked him for the conversation. Wished him well. He hobbled off the train.