Real Life Characters

I once saw a bumper sticker that read "Reality is for people with no imagination."

How wrong that statement is.

I remember my 9th grade civics teacher admonishing us at the end of the year to never use drugs. Bear in mind that this was a man whose classroom walls were covered in Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix posters.

"If you look around," he said, "you'll find that being sober is far stranger than anything you'd encounter high."

He's right, you know.

There are stories of writers' manuscripts and screenplays being rejected for improbability, when in fact they were based on real events.

I know a young man who is impossibly moody. Seriously, he makes Hamlet look like Pollyanna. He is extremely tall and lanky, and carries himself with a hunched, awkward gait. His eyes are always downcast, his head toward the ground. He slams doors everywhere he goes. Everywhere.

I've seen him sitting in a hallway, hoodie pulled up tight Donnie Darko style, sobbing. His girlfriend sits next to him, comforting him in soothing tones.

Honestly, this is a weekly occurrence. Sometimes biweekly.

Maybe one day I'll corner him and ask how he can sustain his despair for such long periods. No, I'd never do that. The poor guy seems to suffer enough already.

Take another young man. It is a rare occasion that I see him without his roommate; they do everything together. I cannot tell if they are best friends or a gay couple: their relationship is so intimate that the boundaries are hard to discern.

In contrast to the other fellow, this guy is usually up. His conversation patterns are quite idiosyncratic: if you relate something unpleasant, he'll scream "OWWW!" as loud and intense as if he stubbed his toe. Say something outstanding and he'll wail with joy. Very, very loud.

I could not write characters like these without accusations of being "over the top". Yet these are real, breathing people with hopes and fears and problems and roles like anyone else.

The depth of humanity is astounding. Truly.

And it doesn't require any imagination to appreciate it.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like I might know the second guy. Maybe it's a type. In which case, there are probably more than a couple people who could relate if they saw "him" on the silver screen!