Probably the most memorable character (and creepiest) from the Looney Bin was “Sparky.” You’ll see why we nicknamed him Sparky in a minute. My first morning I met a very nice guy that I called “Socrates” because he was very learned and knew more than I will ever forget! Socrates told me that Sparky had said to him, “Man, I wish I had a cigarette.” Socrates said, “What would the point be? You have nothing to light it with. Why don’t you wear a patch?” Sparky replied, “I don’t need no G****** patch! All I need is a paper clip.” Socrates decided he needed to see this, so he said, “Show me what you mean.” (Now, as I’ve mentioned, Socrates was intelligent, but maybe lacking a little common sense. I don’t think we should be encouraging Sparky. He was not firing on all cylinders.) So, Sparky got a paper clip, inserted it into an outlet and sure enough, SPARKS! Of course, the outlet now had a big black burn mark all around it, but that’s beside the point.
That morning when my husband and mom came to visit me, Sparky approached my husband and they had this exchange:
Sparky: “You got any?”
Sparky: “Come on. Not even for me?”
Hubby: “No.” (This was hilarious since my husband had never even met the guy, but Sparky acted like they were best buddies.)
So, Sparky was a little agitated during his stay since he refused the patch, was in there for some kind of “issue” and wasn’t happy about anything. Sparky got a roommate. I asked his roommate if he was a little creeped out about being in the same room with him and he said, “Oh yeah. I asked for another room and they are all full, so I’m going to sleep on the floor of the meeting room on a mattress.” We agreed that there was no way he’d get any sleep in Sparky’s room. By the way, completely off the subject, I owe that roommate money because he bet me the Patriots would go undefeated and I said it wasn’t going to happen. So, if I run into him on the street, I owe him five bucks.
Things just started getting a little more tense with Sparky. You couldn’t pinpoint it, but he was yelling a lot more than usual. One morning we all awoke to find out that Sparky had tried to burn down the place. Nice. At first, he thought they were going to put him in the padded room. (Yep. They still have those.) But, come to find out, they were kicking him out. Then, he became like a child. “I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it! I promise to be good! I promise!” It was kind of sad, actually. Turns out Sparky didn’t have a home to return to, so the social worker was going to have to find a shelter to take him. Even though we all felt safer when he was gone, we felt sad too.
I remember when my kids were in preschool they learned this little ditty:
(Sung to the tune of Frére Jacques)
Never ever play with matches.
If you do, if you do
You might burn your fingers.
You might burn your fingers.
Boo hoo hoo. Boo hoo hoo.
Maybe someone should have sung that one to Sparky.