Hopefully you participated in the 10-10-10 Give a Stranger 10 Bucks Day yesterday…if not, why not go ahead and do it today. It is a three-day weekend after all for many folks, so I’ll let it slide!
Today’s recipient ranks up there with one of the more memorable people that I have met.
You might remember back on Day 245 I came across a rather odd individual walking around making extremely loud cat meowing noises. On that day he was walking around with a crazed look in his eyes as he meowed. Really loud! Occasionally he would turn 180 degrees from his slow sloth-like walk and bark something like, “Can’t you find the mice?”
So exactly 40 days later I am walking around town when I hear this loud banging noise. I couldn’t quite place it but it sounded like someone was banging a wrench or something against a bunch of steel pipes. Not seeing where the noise was coming from, I went along my business and went into a café to pick up some dinner for that evening. When I left I walked across the street and found “Crazy Cat Man” sitting on the sidewalk with a series of bottles in front of him.
Although he definitely made me uncomfortable the first time I encountered him, I felt a little better this time since he was in front of Starbucks and there were several people who were nearby “enjoying” his free concert.
I asked him what his name was and he replied something that sounded like “Illi Lixsis.” I asked him to spell it and he said that there was “not a proper spelling in our language.” So he grabbed my pen and notebook and began to write his name. To me it resembles something closer to a hieroglyphic than a name. He even included a short written narrative of the composition of the name. In the photograph below you can see the symbol he drew and the explanation he included around it. I’m going to call him Illi.
Illi said he enjoyed playing beautiful music on the bottles. He pointed to his “snare drum” which was an aluminum can. He also had a rattle, made of an empty Nestle water bottle with coins inside, a Perrier bottle, and a variety of beer and wine bottles. “This is the magical wand of Jehovah,” he explained pointing to metal rod.
Our conversation took a path of its own. Illi’s thought process sometimes was erratic but I just went with the flow. “What you are doing is kind of like Daniel Webster – only with words,” Illi suggests. “But Webster was into bestiality.” How does he know that I’m not into bestiality? That was a joke! Seriously, I didn’t know how to respond so I just stayed quiet.
Illi changed the subject. “I grew up in New Hampshire. My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Courier, had been in the CIA during the Carter administration. He was originally a nuclear physicist, but as an agent he was forced to learn all kinds of things. He spoke several languages and …” I am not sure what else he said about Mr. Courier but he related to me at some point how he, I mean Illi now, was into linguistics, computers, visual arts, electrical engineering, etc.
He had a particular interest in necromancy. He described it as an ability that allowed the dead to pass on to the next servitude of life. “Anything you do,” he said, “is then used by your ancestors as a means to get into the next life…but many people get captured.” I probed a little more about what he was referring to but didn’t understand his response. He did show me his birth certificate though during this exchange. I didn’t catch his last name, but his birth given first name is Mark.
Illi is well educated, he certainly knows a lot about certain subjects. His way of communicating it is unique and proved challenging for me to follow. He talked about palindromes, his intense fear of many things in the world and his dislike of Stephen King novels. He also is a big fan of animation. His favorite TV show, a 90s MTV show called Æon Flux, and favorite movie, Jim Henson’s 1982 Dark Crystal, are both animated.
Another random factoid he shared was that his brother Dave sold his 26,000 issue comic book collection to pay for his college. Interestingly enough, Illi said he memorized every title that his brother owned. Sounds a little like Joey’s savantism.
As for the $10, the 35-year-old said he was going to “take a break.” Take some time off from his government job. Oh yeah, and he didn’t want me to take his photograph because of his government work. “Photos are stupid anyway,” he said. I had taken one photograph from a distance before I walked up to him that I have included here. You can not see his face and the photo came out quite blurry due to low light and my sub-par photographic skills.
Like I said earlier Illi, or Mark as it may be, seems to be highly intelligent in some areas. He’s socially awkward though and either is homeless or doesn’t maintain generally accepted hygiene. He sat the entire time in a yoga-like stance with his bare feet folded up like a pretzel. I’m glad I stopped, but I am not sure that I connected with him. I would love to hear his perspective of our encounter.