However, I knew that it was going to get far worse, because I had agreed to meet my youngest brother, who I will call “Iggy.” Iggy is 46 years old, and suffers from bipolar disorder, which means that when he’s in his manic phase, he doesn’t believe he has bipolar disorder. So he stops taking his medication, in the mistaken belief that he’s “cured.”
He gets a tiny disability payment from the government, so he doesn’t feel the need to work. He doesn’t own a vehicle, because he’s never had a driver’s license.
Iggy’s behavior problems have alienated him from most of the family, so I haven’t seen him in at least ten years, probably longer.
I agreed to meet Iggy at the St. Louis side of the Mississippi River. He lives in Illinois, and his disability status enables him to ride public transportation in Illinois for free. But he can’t take the train across the Mississippi River into St. Louis without paying, so he never does.
He walked across the Eads Bridge, and we went to lunch with my dad.
People with Tourette’s syndrome are able to suppress the urge to spout obscenities for brief periods, but the pressure builds and builds, until they have to scream. Iggy is like that. We had a pleasant conversation about our family for about fifteen minutes, and then the crazy started to leak out.
Iggy has been a body builder since his teens. He told me that he spends most of his disability check on dietary supplements, and can’t afford to buy minutes for his phone, or other simple products or conveniences.
Then he told me that he wants to buy a long telephoto lens and a high-resolution digital camera, so that he can take pictures of UFOs. Iggy says that he has seen many UFOs over his lifetime, and claims to have been “indirectly threatened” by the United States military to keep him from telling the media what he knows. He has a UFO tattooed on his arm.
Against my better judgement, I agreed to drive him all the way home, instead of simply dropping him at the train station. He became more animated and intense with every passing mile, insisting that I come up to his apartment to watch him fly a Harrier jet in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. “It’s totally realistic!” he exclaimed.
Iggy shares his apartment with two cats, piles of trash and dirty clothes. He fumbled with his video game setup, and then, in the space of about 5 minutes, crashed a car, stole another, killed two policemen, stole an aircraft, crashed the aircraft, killed two more policemen, and was then shot to death by another. His eyes glittered with excitement.
Before he could start the game again, I told him I had to leave. I knew what was coming. He begged me for money to buy minutes for his phone. Iggy has never spoken to me in his entire adult life without asking for money. Members of the family know better than to give him any, because once you break that seal, he never stops. Reluctantly, I gave him a few bucks and got the hell out of there.
Once I got back to my sister’s house, I got a text message from him, thanking me, and telling me not to give his address to my sister (they have a particularly acrimonious relationship). “Why not?” I texted back.
“She’s not aloud because it’s my wish,” he responded with his typical bad spelling, and then added “Nota.”
So naturally, I texted back and asked what “Nota” meant. His response?
“Nota means never in mexican.”
During that seemingly endless drive back to his apartment, Iggy told me that he’s writing a book, and wants me to help him with the grammar. I doubt that I’ll ever see a single page of it, but if he somehow does manage to write it, I suspect I’ll need adult diapers to read it.