It was  7 30 in the morning and suddenly out of nowhere, Preacherman charges toward me and screams in a low growly voice, “Repent you Satan Monster.”

Preacherman, a man who wears a beige cashmere coat and stands on the corner on his soapbox and preaches the word of God.

That’s if God was having an awful day.

Why is it when people go mad, they always quote the worst parts of the Bible?

You never see a Yogi standing on a street corner saying open your chakras and repent.

Preacherman often stands outside the scoone place, and  is quoting Leviticus. In a booming voice, he hollers,

“Two men should not lie with each other.”

I always wonder if Leviticus had a hearing problem and God said,

Two men should not lie TO each other.

He is always there 7 to 9 a.m

 

As regular as clockwork. He yells about God then goes home and has a bite to eat.

Imagine if you could rein in your ‘crazy” like him?

Have it on a tight schedule like that?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could tell your family: “Look I am going to be out yelling on the street for a couple of hours, but once I am done for the day, we will watch something on Netflix.”

But when Preacherman jumps out at me, calls me Satan Monster I react so fast I scare myself.

“Back off, man! Come on you need to stop yelling.”

And he obeys and takes two steps away from then lowers his head, like a submissive dog, gets really quiet and says,

“Should I modulate my voice? My counselor says, I should speak softer, that I’d get more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

I wanted to say, you’d get flies with bullshit, but I don’t want to get him riled up again.

I said, “ He’s right. Try lowering your register – it might have more impact.”

That’s right. I was giving Preacherman acting notes like we were just two professional actors giving each other ideas on how to make our performance better.

Eventually, our exchange ended and I thought I’d gotten through to him when twenty seconds later he came back at me and hollered, “You Satan Monster, and just as fast as before I hollered. “Go home and eat supper. Your sugar must be low.”

These angry exchanges happened weekly, until one day I went out and Preacherman seemed to have disappeared. He and his soap box were gone. Until I forgot about him.

A few months later, I walked to John’s convenience store and I saw a man ahead of me in line. He was petite, and I noticed that his bald head had cut marks on it. This man turned I me and asked, “Sorry, did I butt ahead of you?” It was Preacherman. He was wearing the same coat, but his eyes were different; soft, compassionate, and he looked shorter. He turned around and said, “Hey, do I know you?” I didn’t say anything, and he continued, “I am Aaron.”

“Hey, Aaron, I am Deborah.”

He smiled, and I smiled, and as he left the store, I thought

What happened to his other identity? Is he on his meds? Or did he get off street drugs? Has he finally read the New Testament?

What a strange, magnificent organ the brain is— it houses two sides of the personality. One side is kind and generous. The other side is the lousy neighbour that keeps me up all night and tortures us with realities that don’t exist.

Most of us have some sort of control over these two separate realities. We think we are so autonomous. Sane. Sanity is more luck of the draw than we think. It’s a dash of bad luck here, a chemical imbalance there that determines whether the God we create is a loving father or a ruthless taskmaster. When he was Aaron, he was a quiet submissive man.  I could see having coffee with him. When he was Preacherman, standing on a soapbox, he didn’t recognize me at all—so I stopped saying hi to him, he would’ve tried to turn my café latte into wine-and I don’t drink.