Our first apartment in Park Slope was a huge duplex. Imagine a duplex in Park Slope now for $250 a month! Unfortunately, our roommate left a candle burning when he went out, it all caught fire and we had to move.
Our next apartment, in the environs of which this story takes place, was a junior single, a living room, kitchenette and bathroom. You could choose where to put your bed, so we built a loft in the kitchen part. It was in an elegant old brownstone, mercilessly divided for maximum profit, minimum grace and liveability. But we were young, it was fine, and it was across the street from Prospect Park, a bigger park than Central Park in Manhattan.
Every day, pretty much rain or shine, I walked in the park with my dog, Arthur, a scruffy terrier mutt. I may have owned a leash, but we never used it. He was a smart, intuitive dog I'd rescued from the pound.
One day we were sitting on a hillside and a tall man came swooping out of the woods, flapping the sides of his big jacket like wings, running across the slope to pick up wind. He looked like a giant three year old, with his long hair flying as he flapped his wings. Spotting me and Arthur, he flew over to us. Arthur may have growled, maybe not. This guy looked harmless enough, and it was bright middle of the day. In those days, I didn't worry so much and told him to have a seat.
His story was that he'd just gotten out of some mental institution or treatment, but he was fun to talk to and bright, and as we all got up to go our separate ways, he said, quite reverentially, "You are a very high being."
I held him in high esteem after that as a person of great insight. We'd sit and talk awhile every now and then, or walk together in the park. It didn't happen often, but whenever we saw each other we were friendly.
One Saturday, Glenn and I were going to the park with his college friend Roger and his wife Katrina and their baby. Now they were a case. He was on the psychiatric staff of somewhere very prestigious like Mt. Sinai, and she was German, I think, and wound waaaaaay tight. I heard they locked their child in the bathroom sometimes so it wouldn't make a mess, but it's over fifty years ago. Surely it must have been a dog, and that's bad enough.
In any case, we were all sitting on the same hillside I liked to frequent, Arthur running around, their child (or dog) restrained, when out of the woods appeared my friend, the running man, in his usual state of disarray. Glenn knew about him and gave no notice, but Roger turned to Katrian in deep agitation, whispering, "Don't look at him! Don't look at him! If you don't look at him, he'll go away." This from the great psychiatrist.
My friend flew over and plunked himself down next to me. Leaning over confidentially, he quietly asked, "Who's the crazy guy?"