By Robert A. Vella
In 1967, a depression-inspired Jim Morrison of The Doors wrote these memorable lyrics:
“People are strange when you’re a stranger.”
I don’t know what the weather was like back then in Laurel Canyon, but it’s pretty hot now. So hot, in fact, that the people around me seem to be going crazy these days. Maybe it’s the hordes of mosquitoes plaguing my community. Maybe it’s mass trauma induced by days of incessant fireworks explosions surrounding America’s Independence Day celebrations. Maybe it’s widespread financial hardship in this economically depressed town. Maybe it’s the struggle of people trying to maintain their interpersonal relations amid growing cultural divisions and global uncertainty. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe I’m the stranger. I don’t know.
All I know is what I see, and this is what I’ve been seeing lately:
A troubled young man who physically intimidates his mother because he refuses to accept responsibility for his own life.
Petulant, pubescent youngsters who threaten their parents with false child abuse accusations when they don’t get their own way.
An obsessed, alcoholic, single mom who seeks comfort in sexual promiscuity.
An absentee husband who demands sexual favors from his separated and emotionally-dependent wife in exchange for not divorcing her.
A lonely, retired woman who has great difficulty with listening to others.
A struggling shopkeeper who scares away her customers with highly opinionated outbursts.
A charming teenage boy who has only one ambition – to be the greatest womanizer of all time.
A former trucker with so many health problems that it takes all his energy just to keep living day to day.
A disabled woman who spends her limited funds on wants and desires instead of the medications she needs to stay healthy.
A store clerk, and corporate automaton, who wears a mindless expression with glazed-over eyes in the performance of her duties.
A single-minded property manager who believes she can increase rents by being confrontational with existing tenants and thereby provoking them to leave.
An ethical and compulsive perfectionist who is increasingly at odds with the world around him.
Yes, I am the stranger.