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Paper-Cup Porsche: Memoir from the Mental Ward - Just That Archaic Poet's Blog

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Paper-Cup Porsche: Memoir from the Mental Ward

Blog Posted:12/3/2013 8:38:00 AM
Of all the kooky Coo-Coo's in the nest, Charlene by far was my favorite. Poor Charlene had virtually lost her mind after the sudden tragic death of her son, and because of that, and in addition to her hilarious antics, we were all quite fond of Charlene.

She was an African-American woman, somewhere in her sixties I supposed. Hoary, snow white hair, diminutive in stature, not lean but not heavy, and entirely unpredictable. A fellow smoker, she would always accompany the rest of us out onto the patio where we all grumbled about our mental problems, bitched about the staff and exchanged war stories. This was always my favorite time to share with Charlene because, without warning, she would often suddenly break out singing gospel songs as if we were in church and not the loony bin. Charlene would sing her heart out, and though not the best singer in the world, I found this erratic behavior endearing, because she would often not only carol "negro spirituals" but also many songs I knew by heart since I also grew up in church. And this was not just singing; it was like she was in actual church, arms waving and dancing around, as if the spirit of the Lord had abruptly invaded her animated body. Stomping, stamping, wailing, flailing: singing her little heart out for us. It was an awesome spectacle to watch, to say the least.

I clearly and vividly recall the day my parents and best friend came to visit me. As I was showing them around the place, which was actually very resort-like for a mental hospital, and introducing them to my new crazy friends, out from nowhere came Charlene with a paper cup in hand. She was "vroom-vrooming" all over the place like she was driving and steering a car. She even made screeching brake noises as she rounded corners, frightening the more sensitive patients in her wake. My parents and best friend, and those of us on "the mend", could not restrain our laughter. While Charlene "vroomed" past us, I yelled at her over the car noises and said, "Hey, Charlene; whatcha doin'?" and, without skipping a beat, she yelled back, "Can't you see? I'm driving my new Porsche!". Needless to say, we were all doubled over with laughter. 

In all my time spent in mental wards, this is by far my favorite and most cherished memory. It turned out that Charlene actually lived in the same town as me, and I would often see her in the grocery store where I worked (after I was "all better"). I always said Hi to her and called her by name, and she would just look at me in bafflement and hurry on with her buggy. One day she finally asked me how I knew her, and I whispered in her ear (as not to embarrass her), how we had met in the hospital, and she took me aside and whispered in a conspiratorial way, "Oh, honey; that was a baaaaaaad time!". I just gave her a friendly, reassuring pat on the back and smiled, to signify that for the time being, we both were better, and that's all that mattered. Al Fin.
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Date: 1/1/2014 8:31:00 AM
Hi Chan, I received a notice, dated 12/31/2013, stating that my blog comment had received a reply re your blog "Paper-Cup Porsche...". It said "*is nameless lol". After your previous reply to me, in which you stated that you were no longer asking for names, I checked your reviewed ad in which you mentioned this. I decided to submit my poem and did so. If your latest reply, which I have quoted, is to confirm that you are not asking for names, then please ignore this comment. Thanks for taking the time to contact me again. Best Wishes and Have a Wonderful Day!
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 1/31/2014 10:19:00 AM
No problem, John! :)
Date: 12/17/2013 4:20:00 PM
Hi Chan, Thanks for your response to my comment. I read your story of Charlene and found it very interesting and absorbing. You captured the incident with your writing very well. With regard to your current contest re the personification of an animal, I have written a piece on the Bison. I enjoyed writing it because my heart has always grieved at the wanton slaughter of this innocent animal with the full approval of the U.S. government as a means of pressuring the Native Indians into submission. However, it does not meet your stated requirements re the length. I am satisfied with it as it is. You can view it among my poems if you wish. Have a nice day!
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/31/2013 9:40:00 PM
*is nameless lol
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/18/2013 12:41:00 PM
You can enter it, John; no worries. Many entrants have neglected to add their names and the winning poem thus far us nameless so I am relaxing the rules. You may enter it in any form at any length and you can remain anonymous if you wish :)
Date: 12/15/2013 9:27:00 PM
Hi Archaic Poet. Best wishes to you. I see that in your ad for your latest contest re Animal Personification, you are requesting entrants to state their names. Most of the other ads do not require inclusion of the entrants' names. I have written Poetry Soup on this matter. Here is their response: "We agree with you. Asking for names brings into question the validity of the contests. However, the sponsor of the contest makes the rules, not PoetrySoup. Frankly, we would not enter those contests." Some sponsors state explicitly "NO NAMES" in their ads. I shall be grateful if you can post on your blog, your reason for requesting names. Thank You!
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/17/2013 7:58:00 AM
It's just a preference. My first contest was anonymous, and I may hold another anonymous contest soon. For the time being, I prefer to have names. Thanks! :)
Date: 12/11/2013 7:36:00 AM
Some great comments here Chan.
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/17/2013 7:55:00 AM
Thanks, Richard; I appreciate it :)
Date: 12/5/2013 3:31:00 PM
Here [in carte blanche magazine] it is called creative non-fiction! https://carte-blanche.submittable.com/submit Go check out the site! http://carte-blanche.org/
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/6/2013 3:26:00 PM
Thanks for the info, Debbie :)
Date: 12/4/2013 6:35:00 PM
That's some fine writing, I think you're under a 1000 words it would be called Flash Fiction [if it was fiction] well worth submitting somewhere [quick take it down ;)] I for one love your mind!
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/5/2013 1:49:00 PM
lol Thanks, Debbie. This is a true memoir from my sordid and checkered past, so "flash non-fiction", you think? In any case, it's just a lil ol' memoir that's been itching to get out for some time. Thanks for reading and for the compliment :)
Date: 12/4/2013 4:19:00 AM
Quite an interesting story here. Thanks for posting.
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/4/2013 12:12:00 PM
Thanks for reading, Jancarl :)
Date: 12/3/2013 11:56:00 PM
Your talent never ceases to amaze. I think I see a book in your future with your stories. :)
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/4/2013 12:13:00 PM
I've always wanted to publish a book of memoirs, K. I'm not that great at writing fiction, but I do have a knack for writing from my own personal point of view. Thanks for the amazing comment <3
Date: 12/3/2013 5:01:00 PM
this is awesome story telling from you. One of your best blogs, my friend!!! That was humorous how she did not know you at the end. She must have been in such a bad way. I have met people like your Charlene. They sure make life interesting.
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/4/2013 12:17:00 PM
I sincerely appreciate that, Andrea. This was a story I very much enjoyed writing yesterday. I have lots of memoirs, and I think I'll use my blogs as a vehicle to express them in the future. Thanks for reading :)
Date: 12/3/2013 11:24:00 AM
This is a really nice story - have you thought about combining it with your poetry, like a haibun, but with short rhyming poems instead? You could take out some of your observational lines and put those into poems... just a thought. I enjoyed reading this :)
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Just That Archaic Poet
Date: 12/3/2013 12:45:00 PM
I've not considered that at all, Susan. Interesting thought; I appreciate that. I enjoy it when someone makes me think and look at things differently. Thank you! :) ~Chan

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