Normal is Crazy

January 13, 2012

Originally published in Boulder Weekly

September 2008

“I have a theory about Boulder,” he says. “Trust me, you don’t want to hear it. There are a lot of secrets in this city. I know a lot of secrets. Oh, yeah, you bet. A lot. A. LOT. I keep my mouth shut though. That’s my own secret. That’s how I stay alive, man. I never talk. Not me. There’s a lot of secrets in Boulder, but you’ll never hear them from me. I’m not much of a talker. A lot of people like to talk, they go on and on, but not me. I don’t like to talk much. That’s not my style.”

His name is not Frank, but that’s what he wants me to call him. Frank is tall, about six-foot-two, in his late 40s, with sandy brown hair and a mustache shaped like the bristly end of a push broom. He’s wearing a pair of crisp, new blue jeans with a crease running down the middle of each pant leg and a black T-shirt that has the words “Longmont Fire Department” on the back. Five minutes ago, I was sitting on a bench on Pearl Street, minding my own business, when Frank approached me and started talking, mostly about how he doesn’t like to talk. I asked Frank if I could interview him for my column, and he said yes, as long as I didn’t use his real name.

“But if you think I’m going to tell you something, man, just forget about it. You can ask whatever questions you want, but I ain’t saying squat. I’ve been around here for a long time. A loooong time, man. I know how things work. The media. Ha! The media. My lips are sealed. I moved to Boulder… oooooh, I dunno… 20 years ago, I guess, with my second wife. She’s a bitch. Nah, not really. Well, yeah, sort of. She lives in Louisville with my daughter. My daughter is a great kid. She’s really great, man. Not like her mother. But I don’t really want to talk about it.

“You see, my first wife was crazy. I don’t mean she was insane… not really. We just had trouble getting along and I, um, had to get a whatchamacallit?… A restraining order. I know, it’s messed up, huh? But that’s just how things turn out sometimes. There’s nothing you can do about it. Some people think I’m weird, man, but I don’t care. I like being weird. Being weird is normal. Being normal is crazy. Now, my second wife, she’s about as normal as you can get. I don’t know why she married me. I gotta theory about women, you know.”

Frank has a lot of theories. A. LOT. He has theories about politics and sports and bears. He has theories about public drinking water (“Do you know what fluoride is? I mean, do you know what it really is?”); illegal immigrants (“If they want my job, they can have it”); and basketball (“You have to box-out and crash the boards… it’s all about fundamentals”). But most of his theories are about being normal.

“I could probably be normal if I really wanted to. I’ve done it before. I was normal for about five years back in the ’80s. That’s when I was married to my second wife. It was terrible, man. I was taking a bunch of medication and working at Office Depot and I wanted to kill myself. Not really, but… yeah, kind of. I think you have to be crazy to be normal like that. But, hey, some people like it. That’s the whole point, I guess. If being normal makes you happy, then you should do it, but if being normal makes you crazy, then I don’t think you should do it, even if it makes other people happy.”

Frank doesn’t want to tell me where he works, but he says that he writes poetry and has a flower garden. He plays checkers. He drinks a lot of coffee. A. LOT. He visits his daughter on the weekends, and sometimes they go to the park but mostly they stay at home and watch SpongeBob SquarePants. Frank says that his daughter is normal, and he’s all right with that. She seems happy, but if she ever decides to not be normal, he will be supportive of that, too.

“I really actually hope that she stays normal, you know. It’s just a lot easier. I don’t want her to be like me, man. That’s a hard life, you know. I mean, I’m happy and everything, but it’s better if she’s like her mother…” He pauses and tugs thoughtfully on his mustache. “Well, maybe not exactly like her mother. It might be good if she was like me. At least a little bit, man.”

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