Starsky and Hutch Mania Already (still?) Going Strong
I was walking back from my daily lunch place today (The House Grill--motto: It's easier than thinking.), and I was panhandled by Huggy Bear. No shit. This guy had the whole 70s pimp thing going--absurd Fat Albert hat, super wide flares, babyshit brown leisure-suit-cut leather jacket, man purse, side-zip Beatle boots, you name it. There must be something about such an outfit that automatically gives you a "pimp roll,*" 'cause this guy even had that.
*It's my understanding that this is the hip term for that rolling swagger that all 70s TV pimps had, and which all my friends and I worked desperately to perfect. OK, maybe not that last part.
Plainly, he was just panhandling for laughs, or to lower my estimate, already sorely damaged by his attire, of his personal dignity. He asked if I could spare a dollar or two. Two?!? Dag, yo--what happened to "37 cents for the bus?" I said no, and was disappointed when he failed to say something like, "that's cool, man, peace out."
But maybe two dollars is just the going rate in the neighborhood. We only reliably have one
panhandler anyway. This panhandler, whom I'll call Sandy, since that's apparently her name, is from "the Center" down the block.
I'm not sure what exactly they do at "the Center" but I'm pretty sure it's some kind of day program for what an Irish Aunt would call, "the bewildered." The House Grill is regularly patronized by all manner of odd folk, the vast majority of whom do not understand money, social custom or personal hygiene, and all of whom make cryptic references to "the Center." Gus the deli owner is a saint of a man just for the way he deals with these retards**. He routinely lets them pay whatever they have to offer, on the theory that sometimes he gets a rubberband, three pennies and a button, and other times he gets 2+ dollars in change, all for the same bottle of Mountain Dew or other vile non-cola softdrink. He never lets them get out of hand, buying too much with their folded up gum wrappers and paperclips, but he otherwise has the patience of a god.
The Center also provides us with a twice daily parade of amazingly disfunctional-looking folks up the block to visit the mall. It's pretty easy to figure out which in the group are employees of the Center, and which are patrons. The patrons are the ones who look unsure of why they're going to the mall again
, and who are usually protesting in one fashion or another. The employees are the ones who are generally ignoring them, smoking cigarettes and occasionally really laying into one of these totally confused-looking unfortunates for some apparently minor infraction.
**Yes, I used the word "retards." I'm a very coarse person, as I find the word funny. I don't find retarded people funny in general, since they're just people, but I think the word is a hoot. Needless to say, it's hard to explain this in most company, so I refrain from using it at all. Truth to tell, my heart goes out the the retards at the Center, because it doesn't seem that the ones who can tell what's going on like it very much, and they're certainly not getting much comfort from the staff members I've seen.
So. Sandy. Sandy's from the Center, and she panhandles. She panhandles like a mofo. She's on the corner near my office every day in the morning (before the Center opens?), and asks every single person who comes within range for two dollars. I can't believe she's successful--at least around here, two dollars is a lot, especially without any singing or sob story--but she's plainly got some intellectual issues, so maybe she doesn't care. I never give Sandy any money because I know the people from the Center are not supposed to panhandle as part of their "treatment." How do I know this? Because I have, on several occasions, seen one of the higher-functioning Centerers*** scolding her roundly and loudly: "No Sandy! We're not supposed to panhandle! Gimme a cigarette! Do you have any cigarettes?!?"
***This is the same guy who has several times invited me down to the Center to help with their anger management classes. No thanks--not until I'm more sure the classes are working.
Anyway, it was fun to see someone dressed up like Antonio Fargas' most famous character.
Also: I'm ahead of the curve! My headline of the week from Monday was on Fark.com on TUESDAY. I'm a genius. If getting out ahead of the Farkers makes you that.