In college I was acquainted with a man who had Tourette’s Syndrome....
In college I was acquainted with a man who had Tourette’s Syndrome.
His form of it was very simple: once every minute or so, he’s just bellow the word “HEY!!” at the top of his lungs.
He had no control over it. You could always tell when he was near. I especially remember one day when he visited the library.
It’s such a simple thing, having to bellow “HEY!!” at the top of your lungs every minute or so, but my mind reels at the complications it must have introduced into his life.
Taking classes in school, trying to rent an apartment or go out on a date — whenever I want to be depressed, I take a moment to imagine what his life must have been like. I still wonder if he did it in his sleep.
And part of me tries to put a happy face on it and think, “Well, okay, it could be worse. I mean, some people with Tourette’s Syndrome yell out things a lot more embarrassing than “HEY!!”
Another person I was vaguely acquainted with in college was an artsy young woman who cut decorative scars in her face.
I guess she wanted to make a statement. She was rather on the good looking side, and one day just got out a razor blade and cut half-a-dozen straight lines in her cheeks and forehead.
When the cuts healed and the light hit her right, you could clearly see six or so scars radiating out from the center of her face.
And part of me thinks, “Well, okay, you have to admire her for making a strong commitment there. I mean, there’s nothing half-hearted about what she did. If you’re going to do something, give it 100 percent and all.”
And the rest of me thinks, “You know, lady? Some day you’re going to be in your 30s or 40s and still have those scars. Having a dumb haircut or piercing in your 20s is something you can outgrow, but this...?”
Another interesting character was a very sensitive guy I took several classes with. I know he was a sensitive guy because he advertised it at every opportunity. He was the epitome of emo before emo was invented.
He wore approved sensitive guy clothing, had an approved sensitive guy hairstyle, and could barely bring himself to look you in the eyes as he spoke to you in a soft Michael Jackson-like voice.
Apparently in certain circles he was quite popular with the ladies, what with this being in a very sensitive college town and all.
The funny thing about him, though — whenever he was at a party and got drunk, his voice would drop an octave and he was invariably the biggest, crudest lout in the room.
It’s almost like it was all just an act or something.
Then there was the political activist who wanted to strike a blow against capitalism by not bathing for months at a time.
I could always tell when he was near, too. Once he walked into a fast food place I was eating at. From over 50 feet away his stench was so bad I felt nauseated and had to leave.
There’s no bigger point to this column than just reminiscing about some of the people I knew in college.
Still, I wonder what their lives are like now. I’m sure they don’t remember me at all.