The Screaming Man on the Park Bench

I get weird when I’m tired.

Like really weird.

Just outright bizarre.

And I’ve been tired a lot lately.

You’re always thinking something, right? But you might not always be actively thinking a thought, y’know? Sometimes your mind drifts into this fluid space between your conscious and subconscious, and random, often nonsensical thoughts hit you out of nowhere.

I fall into that fluid space easily and often when I haven’t had much sleep. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been tired a lot lately.

See, most of the time, when you’ve been properly…sleepdrated (like hydrated but for sleep? There has to be a word for this that I can’t think of…but sleepdrated will do for now.), one of these weird thoughts fly at you like,

Hey you know what would be fun? Jumping into oncoming traffic!

and you can immediately distinguish that this is not a wise decision, it would not in fact be fun. You realize that it wasn’t your regular thoughts, your mind has drifted into the abyss, and you revert your focus and stay on the sidewalk.

There are those few times, though, when you are not fully equipped with the energy and sense to shut down these weird ideas. And when you let them linger in your head too long, they become their own thing and become harder and harder to stop. And thus we have the screaming man on the park bench.

My boyfriend picked me up from work one night after I pulled a 13 hour shift between two locations of my job. It was a pretty silent ride, as I was exhausted and he was focused on not letting us die at the hands of a New Jersey driver. We passed a park, and I broke into an uncontrollable giggle fit. I could not get it together. After maybe ten minutes, my laughing and tears subsided just enough to explain myself. Unfortunately for Dave, my sleep deprivation did not allow me the sense to share that it was a fleeting thought from my subconscious mind…

“There is a man sitting on a park bench, and he won’t stop screaming.”

“What? Where?”

“There’s a man. He just walked up one day, sat down at a bench, and screamed. He’s still screaming. He won’t stop.”

“At that park? What man? I didn’t see anyone screaming.”

“Why is he screaming? Does anybody know!? That man…”

“Uhm…okay I think it’s time we get you home.”

A few days go by after that. Dave and I are eating breakfast.

“He’s going to become a tourist attraction. He’s going to be on the news.”

“Who?”

“The screaming man on the park bench. He easily became a nuisance after like the first day.”

“Stormy, WHAT SCREAMING MAN??? Did you see this guy?”

“But why is he screaming, though? Is he sad? Is he angry? Is this personal or is this a protest?”

“I can’t with you.”

“Whole think-pieces are probably going to be written about him,” I yell as Dave walks out of the room, “like who he is, where he came from, if he has family! What does his family think?”

Another week, another night vedging out with Dave after a long day at work.

“Have you ever seen the music video for ‘Days Go By’ by Dirty Vegas?”

“Nope, never heard of it.”

“You need to see it.”

“…Okay? That’s not really the kind of music I go for.”

“No, the video!”

“What about it?”

“Maybe he lost somebody.”

“Who?”

“The screaming man…on the park bench.”

OH MY GOD.” 

Weeks later, Dave and I are venting about work drama.

“They can’t keep working me to death like this. One more week without a day off and I’m gonna…I’m gonna go to the park.”

“You’re gonna what?”

“I’m gonna go to the park, sit on a bench, and scream.”

My mouth dropped. “Oh my gosh. YOU’RE the screaming man on the park bench??? Am I clairvoyant!?”

“No…and no, but I think I can relate to him.”

“I think I can relate to him too sometimes. Maybe we all can.”

Maybe we all can.”

I get really weird when I’m tired. So weird, it’s contagious.

Huh…I wonder if the screaming is contagious…

He could garner a following! Maybe there will be screaming women on park benches! Woah…that screaming man..

 

A Story About Yogurt

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am very particular about textures. It affects my food preferences more than the actual taste of the food. One texture I absolutely cannot stomach is anything custard-y or pudding-like. The only exception is yogurt, inexplicably.

I love yogurt. I would choose to eat yogurt over ice cream on any given day. But my texture aversion does bring stipulations, in that I really only eat vanilla yogurt, and I don’t like yogurt that’s really thick. At that point I swear it’s expanding as I eat it, and trying to swallow it will prove futile as it cloaks my esophagus and restricts my air flow…like some reverse boa constrictor. It’s terrifying. And don’t get me started on those fruit on the bottom atrocities. Actually, too late. Someone tell me why I would willingly, worse yet, enjoy eating a container of goo filled with chunks of coagulated gunk that deteriorates into the goo until it changes color? It’s disgusting. It’s wrong. It’s entirely not my point, I digress.

It has become increasingly more difficult with this Greek yogurt trend to find a brand that I like. You can barely ever find normal yogurt these days. And then when you do, they might be too sweet, or only carried in plain, or it comes with crushed candy topping that completely defeats any purpose of eating yogurt. It’s seriously getting out of hand.

But I have found it. The perfect yogurt. Wallaby.

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This stuff is my jawn. I am not endorsed by them or anything so I won’t dive into a whole spiel, but the stuff is good. And I used to get like 3 or 4 of them at the market near my job along with a bag of kettle chips. It’s my favorite snack. I’d eat it every workday.

Then the devil tried my very life.

It was a Friday, and I got to work late because my ratchet neighbors never take out our shared trash bins, despite the fact that they’re the only ones filling the cans with piles of open pizza and take out boxes and I only have a full bag of garbage every two weeks. Then I had some less than pleasant customer dealings. I needed to decompress. I needed yogurt. It was time for a break. I went to the market down the street.

No Wallaby.

No empty space where the Wallaby once was.

No price tag for Wallaby anywhere to be found.

I saw some guy stocking shelves and I asked him if there was any Wallaby in the back.

“No, we stopped carrying it. You should try {inferior brand I didn’t bother remembering the name of} maybe.”

“No, sir. I will not be trying anything else. I’ve been through this charade. I’ve tried all of these. Nothing is good enough. I need Wallaby.”

“Well, okay. Uh…sorry about that then?”

What world did I just step into, and how do I get back to the one that makes sense, I thought.

It was a particularly trying time and the desire for yogurt was strong, so I walked five blocks to the next store that I knew carried Wallaby.

None.

Not gone, but out of stock.

No less soul-crushing.

I wanted to scream.

I opted for pouting instead.

My friend who works there saw me. He asked me what was wrong, and after laughing at my pain, got me Wallaby from the back. He is forgiven for laughing. He saved the day. He’s my hero.

No, wait…actually I’m my hero

He saved my day, but I saved my life! Because a week after that dark day, I went to the market across the street from work during a break, and

there

it

was.

WALLABY.

wallaby

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was back. It was vanilla. It was the beginning of a great day. The guy who I yelled at before was apparently the manager of ordering the dairy stuff…or something. Whoops. He was around, and saw me ogling the yogurt and came up.

“Yeah, I reordered Wallaby after yo– after I got a few requests for its return.”

GUYS.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?

I enacted change.

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CHANGE!

I quite literally changed the world with my voice and words alone.

I saw a wrong, and I made it right. With my voice.

My voice has power.

I can bring yogurt back.

Oh my goodness, what else can I do?

I was empowered. I am empowered. I’m going to change everything for the better!

Today, yogurt. Tomorrow, the world.