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You wouldn't know what crazy was If Charles Manson was eating fruit loops on your front porch*

From Scott-O-Rama, the picnic pact:

A group of friends of the Pacerís decided they would rather check out of this life then lose their minds to senility. They made a pact that once a year they would call one another and invite each other to a picnic. The thing is, there would be no picnic. Instead of a nice lunch outside while enjoying the splendors of nature, they would take you deep into the woods and shoot you. The idea is that if you were invited to this "picnic" and your response was "Hell no!," you proved you still had your mental faculties. You obviously remembered the pact. However if your answer was "A picnic would be lovely, dear," then it was time to fulfill the arrangement and shoot you.

madmanI like this idea. I need to find a couple of friends who would be willing to make a picnic pact with me.

I've been talking a lot about going crazy. Every since my err...episode last week, I've been tossing around the idea that I could very well be losing my mind.

My sister: "Crazy people don't know they're crazy, so you can't be crazy."

Reader Mike Ramsey, in email, says, in essence, that I can't be totally nuts if I'm actually recognizing that there are steps I should be taking to keep myself from jumping off the edge of reality.

And I remember this sociology class in college where the professor told us "A neurotic person knows they are neurotic. A psychotic person does not know they are psychotic."

All very comforting. I think. Honestly, I'm just engaging in a bit of mental hyperbole (me, hyperbolic? No. Way!) See, I've known crazy people. And I know they aren't me.

There was Emily and her husband George. They lived next door to my grandmother and were a kind of crazy I never experienced, except in novels and tv movies. They had no children. George hated children. I used to look at him as the sort who would build a house of gingerbread and candy, just to entice children into his lair, where he would kill them and feed them to his vicious dogs. Emily was a shrunken woman, always hunched over as if cowering in fear. She rarely spoke when George was around, except to answer his questions or reply to his orders.

Sometimes George would go away "on business" and Emily would invite us over. We'd cram into the small shed in their backyard, where Emily would make us tea, comb our doll's hair and pretend to be our teacher. She'd make up math worksheets and grade them, then teach us new words to spell. Her voice was soft and low and we'd have to strain to hear her. It was as if she was trained to speak in whispers; every time her voice raised an octave, her eyes would dart around nervously, looking for her demon husband, I suppose. Even at eight or nine or however young I was, I knew Emily was a tragic figure and her husband a monster who made that so.

Emily sewed new clothes for our Chrissy dolls and bake us cupcakes. And she swore us to secrecy that we would never tell George what went on inside the shed. One day, George found the fake test papers in a desk drawer and went ballistic. We had been leaning over the brick border between grandma's yard and Emily's, talking to her about school. George arrived home, rather unexpectedly, and came running into the backyard, trampling through Emily's tomato garden, waving his hands around like he was swatting unseen bees away from his head. His face was redder than the tomatoes he was squashing under foot and spittle flew from his mouth as he lumbered toward his wife.

We stood with our mouths hanging open for a second. It was almost comical, the way George looked and I had a sudden urge to laugh at him, to point and giggle, until I saw the fear in Emily's eyes. "Go," she whispered at us and we ran into grandma's house, right into the spare room, where we cranked the window open so we could hear George's tirade. I remember sticking my hands over my ears and squeezing my eyes shut because of the awful things George was saying not just to and about Emily, but about us, the kids, as if we were the evil ones, not him.

George and Emily moved away soon after that episode. Again, it wasn't until years later that the reality of the situation dawned on me.

Then there was Mary. Crazy Mary. She was a fixture in our town for so many years that I can't remember when she first started walking the streets with her shopping cart and bags, trolling around town in her baggy stockings and black skirts, wearing three or four sweaters, even on the hottest summer days.

Mary was our town bag lady. But not just an ordinary bag lady. Mary had a checking account. A home. A family. But she filled the home with so many newspaper, magazines and soft drink cans that she could no longer live in it. And she filled her family with such embarrassment and dread that they could no longer deal with her. So Mary roamed the streets of East Meadow, stopping five or six times daily in my uncle's deli, where I toiled for many years. Mary would stop at the cash register counter and berate me for things I hadn't done. Then she'd move to the meat counter and berate the guys there. She'd berate the customers, the beer delivery guy and anyone who dared look her way. She yelled at everyone except my uncle, because he looked just like Phil Donahue and she thought maybe, just maybe, he might really be Phil Donahue and she loved his show, and then she'd order her pound of head cheese, write my uncle a check and head back to the streets.

So of the three - violent George crazy, cowering Emily crazy or living in another world Mary crazy - I think I'd prefer to go the route of Mary. Like I said the other day, sometimes I feel like I'm just a few years away from walking the neighborhood in a house coat and bunny slippers, mumbling to myself and going through recycling bins looking for five cent deposit soda cans. I read somewhere - I think it was on a t shirt - that we should all live long enough to become an embarrassment to our children. I don't know that my children would be shamed by this behavior. More likely they'd drive me to the recycling center to cash in my cans, and then demand a cut of the profit.

I actually have this recurring dream, a vision of the future, where Nat has her own talk show and DJ is a famous rock star. Together, they write a book about their mother's journey to batshit craziness. The dream gives me the incentive to stay sane. I'll be damned if I let those two exploit my downward mental spiral for the sake of fame and fortune. Ungrateful bastards. After all I...

Sorry. Got carried away.

So..uh....anyone want to schedule a picnic in the woods soon?

* song lyrics...anyone?


Suicidal Tendencies, You Can't Bring Me Down!

Stand up! We'll all sing along!

Oh, and I agree with your sister ... if you are aware of it, you aren't. It took a handful of years on the couch to learn that one.

Hell no!

A picnic sounds lovely, dear... I'll bring some sandwiches.

My mother loved the bumper sticker "Get Revenge. Live long enough to become a problem to your kids." Which she did. As the two oldest my sister and I got the brunt of it, but we figured she had the right.

The picnic idea is okay until there is only one of you left, with my luck I would be the last to go.

I lost my mind a long time ago, and I don't miss it.

I knew a crazy Stella. She was greek, and lived on the streets of "Greektown" in Detroit. Tiny woman, which white hair and horrendous blue eye shadow. She would be ok for a while, and then she would just snap, and yell at everyone walking down the street (in Greek, of course.) Apparently she thought she was married to King George. I spoke with her a few times (when she wasn't manic) when I was a little girl. An artist I knew painted a picture of her- it was lovely. One day, she walked into his gallery and slashed it up.

Damndest thing. Just got an email about the company picnic.

{good thoughts in, bad thoughts out}
{good thoughts in, bad thoughts out}
{good thoughts in, bad thoughts out}

Picnic, I'll bring the cannoli.

The only crazy people I knew were elected officials.

I remember crazy Mary. I never knew her name. I remember seeing her in the streets when I went to visit friends in EM. I also would choose her way of crazy, but with not so many sweaters in the summer

Well that's weird. What are the chances that someone reading this would know who Mary was?