February 23rd, 2004



sardonicasshole just wrote an entry about getting screamed at by a homeless man, and it reminded me of something that happened last Thursday.

There's this spastic bearded guy who used to plant himself at a freeway exit I often use on my drive home. He'd just stand there, frantically waving at each car without saying a word, hoping for someone to roll down his window and hand him a dollar. I was never that someone.

So I'm not the saintly lover of bums some readers pictured me to be in my December entry. But I'll still give a homeless person cash every once in a while. So what if they go spend it on crack or a bottle of Night Train? Lord knows if my life consisted of sleeping on cardboard and crapping in alleyways, I'd never want to spend a single second of it sober.

But for some reason I never give handouts while I'm in my car - something about my wallet being firmly nestled next to my crotch. By the time I finally pry that sucker free, I've held up traffic for a good three seconds, and soon everybody is honking his or her horn with murderous rage, thereby hurting my feelings.

The spastic bearded guy must've recognized me after a while, because I stop there at least twice a week, plus I look funny. But we'd never made eye contact until this one day. I was ignoring him as usual while waiting for a green light. Next thing you know, the dude walked straight up to my window, pointed right at me, and uttered the first words I'd ever heard him speak.

"You are a blind man drowning in a river of sound!" he screamed. The choice of words was interesting enough, but it was the tone of his voice that struck me most. He genuinely sounded angry, hurt and - it's hard to explain - concerned.

Startled, the only response I could come up with was to smile, raise my fist in a Black Power-esque salute and say, "Damn right, Skippy." Except he's white. Then I drove off. Crack makes you say the darndest things (I'm talking about the homeless guy).

I got home and Googled "You are a blind man drowning in a river of sound!" to see if it was a lyric from a bad hippy song, or if he turned out to be that eerily prophetic homeless guy you see in movies from time to time. As close as I got was "A River of Sound," a seven-part BBC series about Irish music. This then reminded me I had a bottle of Guinness in the fridge and I went to the kitchen.

The next day, he wasn't at his usual spot. Nor the following day. It didn't take long for me to forget about him altogether.

But last Thursday he was there. It'd been three months since we'd seen each other. Once again I ignored him; and he kept waving frantically, silently as always.

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