I drive Highway 101 on a sunny afternoon and see a man cartwheeling down the sidewalk. I slow down and watch. He is young, reedy, with a bedraggled appearance. He cartwheels for a good 100 feet! His technique, from what little I know of proper cartwheeling, looks sound. Why is he cartwheeling? I have theories. Meth is one. Sheer happiness is another. I think back to my youth and early adulthood. I never saw people doing strange things like cartwheeling on sidewalks. There were winos skulking about, and a few hitchhikers, but that was about it.
The next morning, I drive the same stretch of Highway 101. A trace of snow falls. I see a short woman of indeterminate age walking the same sidewalk the cartwheel man had cartwheeled. She wears an oversized black cloak, medieval executioner or Dickens’ Christmas ghost in style. She also wears brown house slippers. Why is she wearing this cloak in house slippers in the snow? I have theories. Insanity is one. A role playing game is another. Or possibly something to do with an adverse reaction to a prescription medication.
I never saw people doing strange things like wearing black cloaks on sidewalks. There were winos skulking about, and a few hitchhikers, but that was about it.
Was I simply not paying attention then? I think I would remember having seen such sights.
Why are there cartwheelers and cloak wearers along our roadways in contemporary America? I want to know. It is worthy subject for a writer to probe—and certainly should be of interest to elected officials and policymakers.