Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Ignatius Sanity Secret

I have mentioned my "Ignatius file" on a number of previous occasions but in brief it's a collection of letters, cardboard cut outs, paper dolls, wild religious mailings, and various other stuff most of which allege the writer is the victim of a conspiracy or worse. Often they are hand scrawled letters, some are type-written using up every square inch of paper. Some are torn-out news articles with deep philosophical thoughts written along all the edges. All of them are usually hysterical.

I have quite a day I'll compile them into a book.

Today I got another. My pastor gave it to me as it was addressed to our church and "all members of the media." It's from a gentleman in Connecticut and it's too complicated to explain fully...even if I could.

The Ignatius file is based on the character Ignatius J. Reilly from the Pulitzer prize-winning novel, "A Confederacy of Dunces." I highly recommend it for folks with a twisted sense of humor and who cannot be offended...note I did not say, "are not easily offended." I said, "cannot be offended," because it can offend almost everyone at one level or another.

Anyway, the letter I received today, from what I can understand of it, is from a man who claims he was once a police officer in Connecticut but was put on disability due to post traumatic stress disorder. To give you a general idea, the first line of the letter reads, "I am writing in an attempt to save my life from the federal government. I.e. (sic) George W. Bush and the F.B.I.. I am a political prisoner in the state of Connecticut."

The letter then goes on to mention surgery on his ankle, a micro-chip he believes was implanted somewhere in his body, how he is "tortured daily" and followed by men wearing black and white which he determined is the tactic used by police gang units in New York whereby they wear the "color of the day" to identify each other. The same letter mentions that he's been poisoned, sent electric shocks via CNN and has been "mocked by Jesse Jackson."

That's only the first page.

He goes on to mention having spit up blood, finding blood in his "stool" and....sorry about this but I have to quote him..."was forced to defecates (sic) 'farts' hourly at varying degrees. "
Included are pictures of his ankle and two copies of what is obviously a form letter reply from a Senator in Virginia thanking him for his letter "regarding affirmative action in college admissions."

Affirmative action, and for that matter Virginia, are not mentioned anywhere else in the letter. get the idea.

The guy is obviously a taco short of a Mexican plate...he might be missing the enchilada too.

I'm sure when he's on his meds he's fine and probably of no great harm to himself or others however I do still adhere to my "Ignatius rule" which is "read their letters...never ever meet them."

I realize it would be easy to assume that my assembling this collection of letters, scribblings, etc. just goes to show that I am cruel and am mocking people like this poor fellow.

Believe it or not, that's not really my intent.

I will admit I get some amusement out of reading their ramblings and I'm stunned to think of some of these folks walking around unattended.

However, there are three other things in my Ignatius file which I've never mentioned before to anyone...not even Amy.

They are cards...two from my daughters and one from one of my nieces. They are heart-felt sentiments that go way beyond what Hallmark could ever write. They mean the world to me.

So sometimes I pick up my Ignatius file and read of people whose worlds are spinning on a different axis from the rest of us, and I admit that sometimes I feel that way too. Sometimes I wonder what it would take to push me over the edge of societal standards of sanity.

Then I find those three cards, and I read every word of them...and no matter where I am mentally or good times, bad times, crazy life is suddenly put back in balance.

I know what's important...and the axis of my world is right where it should be.

I owe the Ignatius Reillys of this world a debt I can never repay.