Crazy Larry

image-1Larry was an urban legend to me growing up in Lawton, Oklahoma in the 1980s. I never saw him with my own eyes, but I was fascinated by others’ accounts of this paint-huffing, bicycle riding weirdo with either(depending on what color paint he was huffing)a gold or silver face.

Around 1996 or so a friend and I discovered where Larry lived, and we paid him several visits.  Engaging him in any kind of lucid conversation was a fool’s errand, of course.  Chicken or the egg, I sometimes wonder: Did the mental illness preceed the huffing or did the huffing Swiss cheese his brain? Either way, it was simultaneously amusing(cut me some slack, I was 19) and sad.

His mother would answer the door of their trailer, which sat on an empty lot littered with paint-splattered paper bags.

“Larry,” she’d call to him, “some of your friends are here to see you.”

He’d strum Beatles songs on his creepily out-of-tune acoustic, its body covered in silver fingerprints as we chatted about a lot of random nonsense.


I’ve been told that Larry has passed away in recent years.  Frankly I don’t know how he even survived to see the new millennium at all, considering the shape he was in around ’96.

Local legend had it that Larry had been a genius who was going places in life until he threw it all away to huff paint.

I don’t know if there’s even a grain of truth to that, but his story is a tragic one no matter what his origin. Maybe it’s best that we never know for sure. Preserve his legend, his legacy. It’s all he had.

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