The other day I went to the ATM to get some cash and a hobo came up to me to ask me for some money. It was broad daylight, and there were other people in the bank; still, I got a bad feeling right away. He was a big hobo, drunk at 1:00 in the afternoon, and he was missing most of his top front teeth.
He hit up the guy next to me first. “Hey, man, can you spare some change? You got a quarter? A nickel? A dime? Everything helps, but a dollar is better!”
“If you wait til I’m done here, I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you, man, thank you.” And then he went down the line. I was next. I was desperately punching buttons trying to get through the transaction as quickly as possible, but those ATM computers are slower than the 286 I had in high school.
“Hey, ma’am, can you spare some change?”
“If you wait til I’m done with my transaction, sure.” I didn’t look at him, but I could smell him. He was standing way too close and crowding out the light from the window.
“Oh, lady! Thank you!” He grabbed my shoulder, trying to pull me in for a hug. “I love you! I love you, lady!”
“JESUS CHRIST!” I yelled, pushing him off me. “Don’t TOUCH me! What is the matter with you? Get your goddamn hands off me right now or I’ll knock the rest of your teeth out!”
When I told the Mouse this story later, he said that this was one of the funniest things he’d heard in a long time, but I will admit that I immediately felt bad. I mean, the poor guy had to be an addict of some kind, right? No one else in New York walks around without teeth. Still, he scarpered off pretty quickly, and that was the ultimate goal.
When I came out, he was standing outside the door, begging for change on the street. He pointed at me as I stomped by. “This lady does not like me anymore!” he told everyone. “She does not love me! She hates me now!”
All of which was true, by the way.
I then went to catch a train out to Park Slope to visit my friends who live in more than one room, and shared a subway platform with a woman in a clown outfit and a schizophrenic man who was loudly declaiming to all and sundry that he didn’t like white women. The clown, who was a white woman, was calmly applying her makeup and didn’t seem to notice him. She was wearing a polka-dotted blue clown suit and giant rubber sneakers that looked just like Converse All-Stars — Sideshow Bob edition.
“I don’t like white women!” The man said, glaring first at the clown and then at me. “Chinese women! Black women! They’re OK. But white women! Tch!”
I opened my bag and got out a book, which is my usual defense in these situations. He paused for a moment, and I sneaked a look over at him to make sure he wasn’t, say, sharpening his knives. But no, he was actually deep in thought. After a minute, he looked up thoughtfully and said, “Well, except for Donna. She’s OK.”
Good old Donna. Where would we be without her?