The Weird and the Strange XIII: Daisy Monroe

{Disclaimer: The name Daisy Monroe is an arbitrary name I chose to conceal the identity of the subject of this profile. This piece is not about the Disney character or the adult film star, and any similarities to any persons, real or imagined, is coincidental. This piece is a work of creative nonfiction.}

Daisy Monroe is crazy. She may not fit the stereotypical depiction of crazy, but she is crazy.

In our attempts to normalize crazy people, in our very special depictions of crazy people being more normal than most normal people know, we have made it difficult to recognize the actual crazy people that walk among us. Those of us who watch too many movies and too much TV, and read too many books on crazy people have grown accustomed to the message that crazy people can teach us more about life than anyone else. We have also learned that standard definitions of crazy no longer apply. 

The first thing that threw me off classifying Daisy Monroe properly was her happiness. Daisy Monroe appeared to love life in a manner that no fictional depiction of a loon would permit. She should at least be morose, I thought when she spoke. If she’s learned to control that, she should be cynical, neurotic, or ridden with a little angst. She should have something that we can point to when we attempt to classify her. She might be a little cynical, but not so much that it stands out. She should be sad, but she isn’t. She smiles a lot, and she laughs a great deal. She is also polite and schooled in the social protocols of the day. She does her best to remain topical enough to participate in the conversations of the day, and she has a very sweet disposition. Anyone who watches too much TV knows that true crazy people do not have sweet dispositions. Yet, even the most deranged minds can train themselves to hit our marks.

The example I provide here might lead some to believe Daisy Monroe is a racist. She is not. It does illustrate, however, how Daisy is unable to make connections between her comments and observations and what could be viewed as an insensitive comment on a sensitive topic. 

“Is that Smokey Robinson?” she asked me one day at lunch.

My back was to the wall of television sets in our employee cafeteria. I had to twist and strain to see the TVs. I didn’t know why I cared, but I turned to see what she was discussing. I scanned the TV’s and I was unable to find evidence of the soul crooner. I assumed the segment was over by the time I turned. I turn back to her to see she was still looking at a specific location.

“Which TV?” I asked, turning back around. 

“TV number three,” she said. A nature program was on TV number three. An ape was on that nature program, on TV number three. I turned back to Daisy to see if I was audience to a sick, racist joke. She continued to peer at the TV, inquiry spread on her face. 

“Daisy,” I said. “That’s an ape.” I continue to read her face. I looked into her face for the sign that would break free to reveal this as a sick, racist joke. 

Daisy relented. Her eyebrows arched in a manner that suggested she was acknowledging her error, and she went back to her food. The one thing I knew for sure, after this incident concluded, was that her observation was not intended to be racial in any way,  and it was not a joke. I don’t know what look would’ve convinced me otherwise, but suffice it to say that I’m pretty good at reading people, and I could see nothing in her face that would suggest that this was anything more than an inopportune observation. As I grew to learn more about Daisy Monroe, I learned that she is lacking that certain something in her brain that makes connections.

On another day in the cafeteria, Daisy told us about a ghost. “Be wary of the sixth floor,” she said. It wasn’t much of an intro, but it had us. We were all looking at her while she ate. “Oh, you haven’t heard of the ghost?” she asked.

We all acknowledged that we hadn’t in one way or another, and that we didn’t know what she was discussing. She was excited. It was her time to shine. Her face was beaming. She had scoop. She was the center of attention, and she took a moment to soak it in. She reeled out the bullet points of her story with a fine storyteller’s patience. She appeared to think that we were on the edge of our seats.

“I saw it once, in my periphery,” she said, “and when I turned to get a full view, it was gone.” She looked at me, “I know, I know that could’ve been anything. That’s why I didn’t say anything for weeks. Then, I saw him again, on the sixth floor. I’m surprised you guys haven’t heard of it,” she said. She paused for dramatic effect after saying that. She was attempting to use literary devices to keep us on the edge of our seats with her patient storytelling. “Anyway,” she said, when it was obvious she hadn’t laid the groundwork as well as she thought. “I caught him up there. Yes, I can verify, for you all, that it is a him. I was just finishing my work up there, preparing to go on the elevator, when I turned and saw him eating tortilla chips in a chair, watching television.”

Now I know that it’s not impossible for a ghost to eat tortilla chips, and I suppose it’s also plausible that a ghost may watch television on occasion, but it just seems so unlikely to me. It seems to me that if ghosts do exist, they will have better ways to pass the time. I realize that as a person that watches too much TV, I think that if I became a ghost I would realize how much of my tangible existence I wasted watching television, and I would try to make up for that somehow by leading a more fruitful afterlife.

Call me a fool if you want, but I’ve always imagined that if there is an afterlife that the coordinators of it would have a database, a microfiche reel, or an internet website –if the afterlife manages to keep up with modern technology– that contains the answers to questions that plague mankind. I imagine that the afterlife could provide their ghosts a multi-person perspective on incidents that placed them in the Texas Book Depository on November 22, 1963 to see how the JFK assassination occurred in real time. Even if these aspects of the afterlife were not available to the souls living there, I doubt that many of its inhabitants would want to waste any more of their time watching Who’s the Boss reruns with a bag of tortilla chips. I could be wrong, or course, and anything is possible. If it’s true that a ghost was watching TV, however, there are some greater messages about the habits and routines of the modern man, and his modern ghost, we can make here … If they still feel the need to keep updated on their shows, and they’re so lazy and apathetic that they still neglect their ghost duties. It just seems so unlikely to me though.

When Daisy later informed us that she used to a model, I almost laughed aloud. In a manner of speaking that abides by the social protocols regarding making verbal assessments about one’s appearance, most would simply say that Daisy Monroe is not pretty. The unspoken, more impolite extent of this assessment could lead the recipient of such information to bounce their head against a wall when trying to come to grips with the idea that certain modeling agencies selected Daisy Monroe to showcase their corporate sponsor’s products. The pain of childbirth occurred to me when I attempted to pass this information through all the canals of my mind. The instinctive laugh that arises out of painful confusion almost escaped, and I struggled with it, but sense got the better of me. An instinctual laugh doesn’t yield for unintended consequences, nor would the, ‘You have got to be kidding me?’ I almost yelled. I was very grateful, in that moment, that my parents, teachers, and grandparents put such time and effort into to teaching me the social protocols and the ramifications of impulsively giving voice to my opinion without consideration.

On one particular week, our boss thought it would be beneficial to those of us less tenured agents to have a refresher course on the mechanics of our job from those more tenured agents. The tenured agent my boss selected for my tutelage was Daisy Monroe. This was my introduction to the woman.

Our boss’s goal in this exercise was to give us a different perspective of the job. We, less tenured agents, knew the job, but our boss told us that it wouldn’t hurt us to see a more tenured agents teach us how to use some of the tools at our disposal, in a manner that we may not have considered before. Our boss also hoped that the tenured agents would teach us some of the shortcuts in the system that the employed. Daisy Monroe tried to teach me that. She also taught me, in her near dizzying, circuitous fashion of getting from point A to point B, a definition of crazy I had never encountered before.

I never spoke to Daisy Monroe prior to that moment, and I knew nothing of her. As such, my only expectation going into this setting was that she was going to give me another person’s perspective on how to operate with the in-house operating system that I had been working in. She did provide me some insight on how minds littered with maladies, not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), can execute high-level tasks.

A Dance in the Fire

I often play with the minds of those around me. I often take that which is rational and make it irrational. I then place that which is irrational in a rational sheath to see what these mental warriors around me will make of it, and I will ask these questions from a premise that suggests that my confusion is genuine. Some of the more rational minds will inform me that the question I ask is flawed in the premise. They will step back with me to inform me where I’ve made my mistake, and they will correct the premise before answering. Others will look at me with a confused look and attempt to answer my question without the subtle tweaks I’ve placed in my question. There are some, however, that I will not engage on this level. They are the insane, with DSM documented precedent. They are the scary ones.

No one would say that Daisy is insane, nor would anyone consider her scary, but she is not of a mathematical, scientific, or rational mind either. Daisy sits a couple clicks closer to crazy than most of us, but she is not so far gone that it is frightening to take her into the fire.

When I first introduced Daisy Monroe to this game, she didn’t understand it. She tried to make sense of it. She tried to place the subject matter back in the rational category with a quick rebuttal, but she wasn’t as successful as others were. It may have been due to the firm foundation that I laid out for her over the months prior to my test, but Daisy didn’t even consider the idea that I might be intending to toss her back and forth over the rational line just to watch her squirm.

Then she did.

I don’t know if someone clued her in, or if she figured it out, but she was “onto me” from that point forward. She had me so figured out, that she wanted it known she was “onto” everything I said, no matter how serious I was. She laughed at everything I said, no matter where I was in my story or joke. She wanted it known that she was onto me, on a day-to-day basis. Then she figured out I wasn’t always playing games, and that she fell into the sweet spot of all provocateurs’ dreams.

This fire is a place a couple clicks outside the normal, rational, and mathematical constructs of our world. This space forces the subject to question the rational ideas that they’ve learned, with theoretical ideas, that they accept as so true that it forms the foundation of their entire beliefs system. This place also tests the confidence they have of their standing in the normal world. Daisy Monroe’s struggles in this space suggested to me how often she accidentally exits the normal world, and how often she struggles to find her way back.

I’ve witnessed a cavalcade of reactions to these games I play, and each reaction defines the subject, and their position in the normal world, more than they know. After a couple dances outside the rational world, Daisy reached a point where she decided to avoid taking my hand, as I headed into the flames. At that point, in our friendship, she began to dislike the notions I posed to her. They didn’t make her angry, and she didn’t do anything to suggest she was struggling with it. She just decided one that she would pretend I said nothing. She appeared uncomfortable in that world I would take her to, and she began putting forth a great deal of effort to avoid “going there” with me.

She’s a Tough, Old Broad

Daisy Monroe has also developed an almost-undetectable defense mechanism to protect her from the perceptions people might have of her: she throws the first punch. Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a strategy, until they get hit in the mouth.” Daisy Monroe’s strategy was to hit first. Rather than employing the time-tested, age-old bobbing and weaving tactics to avoid perceptions, Daisy strikes.

“I’m a tough old broad,” she tells us.

Say what you want about this tactic, but few challenge self-imposed characterizations. Few people say, for example, “Is that true? Because you strike me as weak.” Very few would even challenge such a self-imposed characterization internally. Most people operate from the premise that another offers them, and Daisy appears to know this. She also appears to know that most people are even relieved to have a premise offered to them, so they don’t have to go through the messy, confusing, and inconsistent practice of building perceptions based on experience. Some people live their whole lives fearing what others will think of them. Daisy appears to have decided that the best way to avoid that messy fire is to provide a preemptive perception for you. She gives you characterization, so you don’t have to characterize. She gives you the fiber of her being, so you don’t have to work through the elements of your experiences with her to arrive at a conclusion. She’s not artful in her methods either. She’s blunt. It’s her almost-undetectable defense mechanism.

Throughout the course of our lives, we develop little games to keep a layer of protection over our wounds. For Daisy, this means throwing an unprovoked blow. When she says that she would never let a man change her, those of us paying attention wonder if some part of her wants a strong man to come into her life and coerce her into changing … If for no other reason than to provide her some security, clarity, and mental stability. When she says she’s not a crier, those of us paying attention know that she knows she cries too easy, and that she might hate that emotional part of her being. When she portrays strength in any regard, the listener can’t help but think that she’s a scared, little girl that needs the protection those illusions can provide.

She is crazy though. If the observer can dismiss the definitions that mainstream messages provide, they’ll see it. If they can bypass the confusing clouds she uses to cover her core, the observer might be able to provide some independent analysis … If that observer has no qualms about destroying another person by shattering their illusions. If the observer can see beyond the preemptive strikes, the smiles, the laughter, and the happiness she displays while providing some intuitive thoughts about the topics of the day, they cannot help but see that Daisy Monroe is a fully functional fruit bat. The one question that remains after the observer reached their independent conclusion about her is how many other, fully functional crazy people walk and talk among us completely under the radar?

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