Monday, August 15, 2011

The Town I Live In: Ernie

Ernie is a homeless guy who has lived around Downtown Fullerton for quite a while. Depending on who you talk to, he's known as "Honest Ernest," "Crazy Ernest," or just Ernie. I'm pretty sure he's schitzophrenic.

Sometimes, when I see him, he will greet me warmly, telling me I look like either "that one guy from Creedence Clearwater Revival" or Mr. Greenjeans from Captain Kangaroo. Sometimes he seems more excited to see me than my friends. I'll usually give him a cigarette or some change. Sometimes he'll try to sell me items. I once bought two "rare nickels" off him for a dollar. I think he collects old coins.

His knowledge of 60s and 70s music seems pretty thorough. Once I had a crate of records in Hibbleton Gallery and Ernie walked in and immediately started flipping through the records.

"Play this song!" he said excitedly, handing me a Turtles record. We listened to a few songs together and then he walked out.

Other times, perhaps when he is off his medication, Ernie is really distant, as if locked inside his own head. When he is like that, he will sit alone for hours on the sidewalk with his head down. He won't ackkowledge anyone, including me.

Sometimes, when it's really bad, he will start seeing things that aren't there. Once I saw him outside Starbucks, frantically trying to stomp bugs that didn't exist, except in his head. When he's in this state, he can seem a little aggressive. Once, when I was sitting outside Starbucks reading, Ernie kept shooting at me with a toy squirt gun.

"Stop it, man!" I said, "That's not cool." And he stopped.

Ernie is a part of the downtown community.

1 comment:

  1. Jesse, This was nice. You should submit it to the observer - or use it for your Character Sketch for October (it would go well with the article I'm writing on homeless services for October's issue)