While sipping the best coffee ever at Coffee Culture, I saw a handsome, young black man standing across the street. Beside him sat an elderly white woman in a wheelchair.
I swear this is true: I watched him light a very fat joint, take a hit and pass it to the old woman. Without looking at him, she took a hit and passed it back. This wasn’t merely unexpected. It was surreal. As he rolled her out of sight I thought there was a story there but I wasn’t sure yet what it would be.
As I headed home, I had a Truman Syndrome moment. Everything looked slightly fake, like I was on a movie set made just for me. An old man with a nose like The Penguin’s beak and horrible posture scrabbled across the sidewalk as if pulled along by his cartoonish nose. At the same time, a woman ran the other way in a gait that looked…contrived. She wore a pastel green blouse that matched her socks and she ran like she was holding back a terrible case of diarrhea and trying to hop in time to an urgent nursery rhyme.
If I were to see each person individually, it would just seem odd. However, the juxtaposition of all of them made them not real people, but characters. As I scanned the sidewalk, everyone looked like an extra in an early 90s low-budget movie. I could picture the AD whispering instructions to concealed earpieces for each passerby. “Keep moving! Don’t look at the camera. Don’t look at the actor! Don’t look at Chazz! He still has no idea!”
The sense that everything is slightly off, somewhat “presented”, and utterly skewed? That feeling hasn’t left me all day.
I’m either in a writerly mood or this is a narcissistic psychosis.
Not that those conditions are mutually exclusive.