I lived in NYC for one year in the mid '70's (the 1970's, not the 1870's, smartass). I worked for the FBI, which was not as interesting as it sounds, but mainly while I was there I studied Crazies.
New York is known for it's Old School Crazy People. Not the New Age California-Charlie Sheen type crazy or the Sunbaked Florida kill-your-daughter type crazy, but good old-fashioned talk-to-yourself-and-randomly-to-other-people-about-nothing-in-particular Crazy. I found it comforting. There were many weekends back then when I went the entire weekend without talking to anyone (this also happens to me in Birmingham). And at 25, I'd get lonely easier than I do now. So a random old lady coming up to me and taking my arm to help her cross the street while she babbles quasi-incoherently about her cats was often the most human interaction I had that day. I like the fact that Crazies totally disregard society's unwritten dictum that we don't talk to people we don't know. Granted, there are certain things we don't talk about to people we don't know (insert your own dirty joke here, I'm tired), but I was always fascinated by the random pieces of information Crazies wanted to discuss. A lot of times they weren't really crazy things, just nonsequitorial stuff (I just wanted to type nonsequitorial, cause it's cool) that made sense, it was just out of context (Hence the nonsequitorial-ness. Shit. I guess I should just delete that part. But it has the word nonsequitorial in it two, no, make that three times!! Fuck it, it's staying in. You can take points off for redundancy and over-use of "nonsequitorial".) (hah! four!!)
Every once in a while, when I feel so moved, I slip into Crazies Mode. It's usually because I've overheard some random comment or something has happened that triggers my Mustmakeajokeordie Reflex. It's genetic, my son suffers from it too, and it has gotten both of us in trouble more times than we can remember. But you'd be surprised how people respond favorably to someone they don't know starting up a conversation. People under 30 (the heathens!) sometimes give me funny looks, but they do that anyway, even if I don't talk. It's just that something needs to be said in the moment; if you say it later it won't have the same impact, and, to me, an audience is an audience, I ain't picky.
Actually, the whole idea of going crazy is kind of a touchy one to me, because the women in my mother's family do just that. I keep looking for signs that I've totally slipped my tether and occasionally I'll find one and have a Freakoutmeltdown. It's not pretty. And I think my chances of Crossing into Looneytown better because I am alone. I already talk out loud to myself all the time. Just one tiny step and it's Hello, Lalaville.
So if I grab your arm and ask you to walk me across Five Points, be kind. And pay attention, you just might learn something new about cats.