Close to Crazy (a flashback)

Roger Porter

April 12, 2011

I’m a 22-year-old English major at UC Berkeley. After I listen to a lecture on Chaucer’s The Parliament of Fowls I go to the library and try to get a descent sense of what I just heard by studying my notes. After I leave the library I hop on the 40L toward East Oakland. As the riders on the bus change from geeky college kids to Berkeley Bohemians and then to average everyday hood folks, I sit in the back corner seat looking out of the window trying desperately to daydream.

When the bus reaches Havenscourt and Foothill Boulevard a young man gets on the bus. He is even younger than me. He is wearing a thin knee-length black leather jacket, blue jeans, a gray sweater, a black beanie, and black Lugz boots. His skin is the same shade of brown as mine. He stomps to the back of the bus and sits down hard into the seat directly in front of me. The seats are set up so that I am facing his right side.

The young man looks forward at nothing and blinks half a speed faster than it seems like he should. He turns to me and asks if I want to buy a bottle of cool water cologne. I say no. He turns back forward and shakes up a bottle of cologne in his hand as one would shake a can of whipped cream or spray paint. He sprays some cologne on his jeans, he sprays on his leather jacket, a few squirts on his face, and finally he sprays some into his mouth.

It troubles me that his mind is deteriorating at such a young age. I am also troubled by my decision to stay in my old neighborhood to save money instead of moving somewhere by campus. At this moment I want nothing more than to live in some apartment on College Avenue in order to escape the ghetto for once in my life.

As I get off the bus it pains me that I saw myself in that young black crazy man.


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