Humanity is bizarre. The western world is particularly odd and it seems sort of irreconcilable. Take bums for example: Now, I’m not talking about elderly people who have been evicted due to slashed or stolen pensions, or the guy who’s house got foreclosed and is now living in his car and working at the Laundromat, and I’m DEFINITELY not talking about white kids who have nothing better to do than sit on the street with signs that say “why lie? I need a beer” (which was maybe refreshing in its honesty in 1991, but for all you summertime squatters out there reading this, that sign is played out. Try, something like “Give me a dollar and I’ll let this dog off the rope” or “give me a dollar and I’ll cut off my stupid white guy dreadlocks” “give me a dollar and I’ll punch this gross douche sitting next to me in the dick” or even “give me a dollar and I’ll give you a ride home in my Range Rover.” That’s the kind of post-postmodernist effluvious drool that the zeitgeist is currently mired in…just FYI).
Anyway, when I say bums, I’m referring, of course, to black dudes who have gotten old enough that their weird crazy has completely metastasized their being and they’re standing there with pee and food bits on them and they’re sometimes gross and sometimes kind but always visibly unhinged. And, sure. Okay, fine. The bum-flavor-possibility arc is a many splendored rainbow, but if we’re going out and counting bums, we’re getting a disproportionate number of crazy black dudes between the ages of ‘no longer young’ and ‘dead.’ Anyway, specific race is not the greater point here. However, it bears mentioning that there are few groups of people that we, as an earth fear on the level that we fear crazy black men with nothing to lose, and a huge percentage of these bums fall into that category. And yet, if we live in a city, we see these guys every day, not doing anything particularly scary at all, besides just existing, and reminding all of us about what can happen if the world decides, en masse to ignore you forever. That kind of large scale cold-shoulder-treatment would probably make anyone crazy, don’t you think?
Well, there are two ways of interacting with bums. Actually, if you count “ignoring them completely” as an interaction (which would make you bad at semantics, by the way) then there are three. You can 1) be personable, as in, respond to their request either with money, food or just a phrase like “sorry man. Not today” or you can 2) be cruel. This involves any other interaction that falls outside of the parameters of category 1.
Lots of people choose category 2 or category minus-1 (the ignoring) because they feel like life is hard enough. They feel like they never stood on any corners and asked for handouts. They feel like there’s nothing good that’s gonna come from giving this bum a dollar because he’ll either (worst case scenario) spend it getting high and therefore getting all wound up to commit crimes or (best case scenario) be encouraged by the fact that he is getting paid for standing there and never, ever get off the streets and get a job.
Of course, these dudes really do need help, but truly, a dollar is not the help they need. They need mental health facilities and people who are trained to listen and medicate and attempt to understand and repurpose them as the closest possible thing to good citizens as they can be. But that shit ain’t happening. That’s a LOT of money and effort just for some bums, man. And the truth is, bums aren’t even the ones committing crimes. In fact, bums are some of the most murdered motherfuckers out there. If you’re remarkably cruel, a bum problem is one that solves itself once a crime wave or particularly rough snowstorm hits. (side note: do you know why there are very few female bums? Because the lure of pussy is so strong that putting a crazy person in your house in exchange for getting laid is one of the more common transactions that we make in this world. Dicks may be sensitive and may hurt for a week if punched, but they’re remarkably singleminded and staunch in their determination, even in the face of obviously bad ideas.)
So anyway, last night, I went to see Book Of Mormon, which I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s a musical about the disparities on this earth taken to ridiculous extremes and it’s easily the best musical I’ve ever seen, one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, and also remarkably shit-your-pants funny, considering that raping babies and having AIDS are a big part of the story. The show was at the Bank Of America Theater, which was designed by an extremely whimsical architect who had zero regard for how people were ever going to get in, out or to and from their seats and/or the bathrooms.
During the fifteen minute intermission, I hauled ass to get in what I knew was going to be a long line to pee. The line stretched up a large flight of stairs and around a corner, spilling back into the bar area which was tucked in an alcove beyond yet another flight of stairs. So, the line crept forward and eventually I reached the bottom of the stairs. I was almost to the point where I was at the bathroom door when a man in his late fifties/ early sixties, wearing a black leather Members Only style jacket, tiny spectacles (not unlike the ones Jake Jarmel got in Indonesia, for those of you who know/care what that means) and a petulant little mustache came casually wandering up and tried to shoulder his way into the line in front of me.
I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed up, to the rather long line full of men, all of whom were presumably squeezing their kegel muscles, uncomfortably holding in their urine. The guy looked at me and said “well, I’m not waiting in that line” as though I’d just suggested that he reach into my asshole to find a marble to swish around in his mouth.
I responded “well, you’re not getting in front of me either,” so he got behind me. He just squeezed in the line right behind me and the pathetic pud (and subsequent pathetic puds behind HIM) just let this dude cut the line despite the fact that everyone in the line was patiently waiting to relieve their own physical discomfort in a very small window of time. The guy spoke into the back of my head. He said, very sarcastically “you’re a really good guy.” I said, “look, asshole, we’re trying to have a society here. Everyone is waiting in line, don’t be a dick.” And he said, to the back of my head, “You should be proud.” I replied, “What? What the fuck are you talking about? YOU cut in the line here, and now you’re turning this around as though it’s some kind of moral failure on my part? What the fuck did I do?” To which he responded “You figure it out.”
Well, I couldn’t figure it out. And I still can’t. What I do know is that the man in question was obviously very wealthy. He had expensive designer clothes and accessories on. He clearly has a sense of self entitlement that, very explicitly dictates that he’s above the rules that everyone else needs to follow and I can only assume that his attitude has had no small role in propelling him to his level of success, and likewise, that his level of success has augmented his shitty attitude. My thoughts, as I returned to my seat, were that that guy did not get to where he was by letting people cut in front of him in the line on his way to the bathroom. In my actions, he could have only seen something approaching what he would have done were he in my position (the fact that he’d never wait in the line in the first place notwithstanding), but even though he knows that on some level, there was no empathy or understanding, no acquiescence, only bile, because I was getting in the way of his good time. I definitely am not suggesting that I was any sort of badass, or a hero or anything. I was just a minor annoyance, nothing more. In fact, I was a bit of a wimpy pussy about the whole thing. However, I was, by being mildly miffed at his mildly offensive behavior, reminding him of what a dick he is. And he responded with anger since he had no intention of transforming into a non-dick anytime soon.
In that way, I was his crazy old black guy on the street. That’s maybe part of why people respond cruelly to them. Their very existence is just a series of reminders that we’re selfish dicks who are too busy to wait in lines and care about the needs of everyone behind us, and they, those fucking wise-ass bums, should be real fucking goddamned proud of themselves for being out there, covered in piss and pigeons, making us feel like shit simply because we’re too selfish and lazy to help them.
Fucking weird stuff, man. Earth is mean. Humans are weird.