Sometimes I forget that living in a dense urban area means that there will be occasions when I will be forced against my will to interact with people one could best call…, well…, crazy. Today, however, was a friendly reminder that no matter how artfully you practice avoidance, you will not always succeed.

I was having an otherwise normal day when I decided to go out for a walk.  Leaving my apartment building there’s a walkway about five feet long that T’s into the sidewalk. While descending there’s a large shrub on the left side of the walkway.  I don’t know what kind of shrub it is, but it’s green and red and shiny and looks like a large Christmas themed haystack.  It’s so large that it blocks the view between the walkway and the sidewalk, and since I couldn’t see around this shrub when I turned off the walkway I nearly ran directly into a woman walking up the sidewalk.  I apologized for almost hitting her.  She turned and looked my direction, and, in the strange and magical light that was reflecting off the Christmas shrub she appeared rather attractive: a tall pretty blond dressed in a rather funky second-hand look, she reminded me of the character Charlize Theron played briefly on the TV show Arrested Development:

She said something in a hoarse, whispering voice that I didn’t understand.  I leaned her direction and said, ‘I’m sorry, what?’

She hissed words in my direction that sounded like, Dirty, dirty dirty.  Surprised, I repeated my previous question and unthinkingly moved even closer towards her.

Dirty, dirty dirty dirty!

There was no mistaking her now.  Her voice had risen sharply and her eyes bulged and the light reflecting from the merry Christmas shrub had changed so that she no longer looked like Arrested Development Charlize Theron.  Instead, she looked like Monster Charlize Theron, the one where she plays the prostitute-turned-serial-killer who looks… well…, terribly disturbing:

The next thing Monster-Charlize did was to reach into the oversized duffel bag that was slung across her shoulder, whip out a plastic blue bottle with a squeeze handle and spray Febreze all over my face, all the while repeating her witchy refrain, Dirty, dirty, dirty.  I was so surpised that at first I didn’t do anything, just stood there taking each spray as if I were at the mall happily receiving samples of cologne.  After a moment I pulled myself back from her, and before I could speak she stopped her spraying, fixed me with her wide crazy eyes and screamed Dirty! one last final time.  She stomped her foot heavily on the sidewalk, turned and slunk frumpily away from me, muttering the entire time, Dirty, dirty, dirty.

I didn’t know what to do with myself.  What was there to do?  I wasn’t about to run after her and chide her  like some insolent child for her poor behavior.  After all, she was Monster-Charlize — that lady killed people.  Instead I looked about me in the same  nervous, self-aware way I would do had I fallen off my bicycle in public.  But no one seemed to have noticed: everyone was going about their business as if the red-faced man with the watering eyes standing in the middle of the sidewalk hadn’t just been Febreze-ed by a strange, muttering woman. Over the years I’ve had many peculiar interactions with crazy people on the streets.  The upside of this one is that not only did the Febreze kill any unwholesome bacteria that might have been milling about, but I also smelled like Springtime Rejuvenation.  Which, as far as crazy goes, isn’t too bad an outcome.