Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Twice upon a Time in an Alley

I once saw a naked man. No, twice. The same one, in public, in the same spot, at the same time of day, several days apart.

Live here long enough and you're bound to come across a naked guy or two, you might say. Par for the course when you live in an urban environment such as this one. Ok, I'll give you that, one time. But when it happens again under nearly identical circumstances, one appreciates the rapidly diminished odds of such a thing occurring and begins to wonder about the backstory leading up to this chance double meeting.

Here's how it happened (both times): I was walking down the street on my way to the parking structure when I happened to glance to my left, across the street and down an alley, and there he was - a naked man rummaging through a dumpster. "Hey, look at that," I thought, "a naked guy in an alley rummaging through a dumpster. Now there's something you don't see every day and surely never will again. Los Angeles. Poor bloke." Startled, amused, sympathetic, I moved along. A thing like that does tend to stick with a body for awhile, though. It was a naked man in public, after all. So, the next time I happened to be walking that same way to the same parking structure at the same time of day it occurred to me that, "Oh yeah this is where I saw that naked guy, right ... over ... there." And there he was again, rummaging.

What had been a rather pedestrian footnote to my week the first time around was now a cosmic omen of great import! My mind was beset with a flood of questions and theories. Had he been naked in the interim? When was the last time he had, in fact, worn clothes - had it perhaps been years? If not a perennial nudist, how had he managed to lose his clothes again so quickly? Or was it just a daily routine of his - while others clock in and clock out, day in and day out, does this man every day at 6 PM remove his garments and go for a stroll?

It may have been a glitch in the Matrix. He may have been a Terminator, sent back in time on a mission! There may have been two identical model Terminators sent back in time - the first one to kill and the second one to protect! I saw no telltale electrical discharge craters, however. Perhaps he was a CIA operative in constant need of shifting his identity and that dumpster was his drop, where every day he would find a new passport, a dossier and a fresh set of clothes. A rationale I often turn to when I see something I don't understand is that I've found an alien, stranded on our planet, in search of fuel to power his spacecraft off this rock.

Surely, the true explanation must be a much sadder one. In that instant, it wasn't among those that rushed to the front of my mind. I'd done what I believe all people to be quite adept at doing and I'd overlaid reality with much more desirable and bearable scenarios. A necessary adaptation if one insists on being sentient; a defense mechanism for awareness. Unable to cope with the chaos, at times, imposing order instead and seeking reinforcement from ourselves for our vision of how it is and ought to be out there. The creative voice in our head reassures the observational one not to panic - the two are still more or less in accord and are in no imminent danger of canceling one another out. You know, all that stuff.

I hope John Connor is safe.


  1. This post evokes a lot of imagery that has been in my brain before, and I like that about it. A naked man is not as common as one might think, even in LA...

  2. I like this a lot! This put a totally novel image into my mind. How DID he lose his clothes? Did he spend all of his time naked? I still want to know. Maybe in part II?