In Manhattan, you don’t have to look far to find crazy. For most folks, it can be found in their own backyards – or in the case of Manhattanites, our apartment buildings.
Next door to me is an obese black man who claims to be straight, but loves to wear women’s high heels on the street. Now I’m not talking Rupaul realness here, I’m talking a fat black man dressed like your father in a pair of pumps – not pretty. Numerous friends have called me in hysterics about the odd black man in heels they have seen in my neighborhood.
“Yeah,” I say, “That’s my next door neighbor.”
Furthermore, he’s one of those dreaded “talkers”. You know the type –they go into 20-minute monologues about their life every time they see you. I swear, in the 12 years I have been in the building, he never once has asked me how I was doing. Needless to say, I avoid him like the plague.
On the other side of my door is a man I see about twice a year. He has lived in the building for 30 years, but appears ageless. Although he seldom leaves his apartment, when I do see him, he is usually in a jockstrap giggling with the door half open. I avoid this one, too.
Two flights up is a white former hippie who has lived in the building for 40 years. Last week, he told me tales about the 1960s when gun battles, robberies and staying indoors after dark were the norm in the east village. When I asked him why he would move to such a dangerous neighborhood in the first place, he replied that it was to help black people, and furthermore, he was embarrassed being white. He then got on his hippie high horse and began ranting how whites should be ridden with guilt about the way they treat blacks.
I rolled my eyes – I imagined faded Black Panther posters hanging from his apartment walls. I mean, there is nothing I hate more than aging hippies and their tired rhetoric. I told him I was a bigot, and as a gay person, I face prejudice everyday, so I don’t want to hear about any “white” guilt. He looked shocked and walked away. I guess, I will be avoiding him now, too.
On a final note, across the hall, beat poet and boy loving NAMBLA member Allen Ginsberg resided for 30 years.
Yes, crazy is alive and well in Manhattan’s East Village.