Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Curse, Part 3: The Demon Fisherman

In part one, I described how, at a moment of extreme stress and pressure, I'd infuriated a stranger with whom I'd been kind and friendly. It marked the beginning of a very strange, very painful period which I and a few friends would come to call "The Curse". Part two explained how it had expanded to complete surreality, and how I reacted by shrinking myself into near invisibility.

My comfort zone is quite wide. I have a wider range of interests, and feel comfortable in a wider range of places and with a wider range of people, than anyone I know. The downside is that anything outside my wide comfort zone can nearly paralyze me. Even banal stuff. It takes superpower fortitude for me to attend a party.

I'm not someone who'd buy a kayak, drop it in unfamiliar water, and happily paddle around. I love kayaking, but making that happen on my own isn't really my storyline.

However, I managed it. I bought this cool inflatable kayak, and dropped it into a murky pond, unsure whether it was permitted, or if there were unknown risks. Tentatively and tightly, I paddled across the pond. Then, as I was just beginning to relax and grin, I turned back and saw that, on the landing, a rather large fisherman had appeared. I wasn't sure where he'd come from; there had been no signs of life only 5 minutes earlier. And the guy seemed awfully wound up.

As I paddled closer, I noticed that he appeared to be deranged. He was violently, twitchily flinging his line into the pond, yanking it back, and re-flinging. Over and over. Fast. There was a small problem with my kayak, so I needed to land, but there was nowhere to do so but right beneath where he was. And I got the strong sense that he was not going to accommodate me.

As I drew closer, I saw sunlight glisten off the large, shiny metal hook at the end of his line, which repeatedly flew toward me and then retracted. The guy was paying absolutely no attention to my approach. It was almost as if he were in another movie. If the hook hit my kayak, it would immediately sink. If it hit my face, it would tear my flesh. But he persisted, as if I were invisible. And, again, he seemed awfully wound up. If he had a soundtrack, it would have been extreme hardcore.

I was mentally rehearsing a statement (e.g. "Hey, buddy, can you give me just a sec to get out of this boat?"). But when I drew close enough to clearly see his face, something told me: No. Don't talk to him. Don't deal with him. Get away from him. Now.

The same street smarts also kept me from panicking. I mentally let him exist in his separate kookie movie, took a deep, fatalistic breath, pulled in, got off, grabbed the kayak, threw it in my car, and calmly drove away, ignoring him completely. No turbulence was made in the emotional time/space continuum. But I was very aware that I'd experienced a waking nightmare, which had unfolded with pure dream logic.

It made no sense in the real world. This is a suburb distant from NYC, filled with quiet, meek people. The sort of people who hit the brakes and wait if they think you might be toying with the notion of stepping off the sidewalk. The kind who linger at stop signs even when they have the right of way. There's no crime or disturbance. I have never spotted anyone the least bit scary here. This inexplicable guy in this inexplicable place doing this inexplicable activity was many deviations from the mean. The far end of the bell curve.

This was the low point of the Curse. I recounted all this to a Sicilian friend, who wagged his head very gravely. My day-to-day experience had jumped the shark. But along with the extremeness came a certain unreality - a sense of "don't worry, it's only a movie." And, indeed, I'd gotten through this completely unscathed. It was one of many instances during this period that I felt sort of...winked at.

Continue to Part Four

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