Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


The Homeless Guy on 1-80 (Part 1 of 2)

Filed under: Kathleen Bennett,Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Cory and Kathleen moved to San Francisco so long ago that I couldn’t tell you when it was. Let’s see if I can pin it down. They moved after the release of the Bare Naked Ladies first album because I remember sitting in their basement apartment in West Valley singing, “If I had a million dollars?” They moved before the release of Mike’s first book because I remember bringing a copy of his book all the way to San Francisco for them. So, sometime between July 28, 1992 and November 1995. That’s the best estimate that I can give you.

I remember the first time Mike and I visited them in their San Francisco apartment. They lived on Shrader Street, which was just two blocks from the Golden Gate Park and four blocks away from the corner of Haight and Ashbury. My parents weren’t hippies. They were very square, but even my mom believes that everyone should make a pilgrimage to the corner of Haight and Ashbury. I have actually gotten a parking place there. I would have taken a picture, but it was a rental car.

After only a few months living there, they had sold their VW bus. It was too hard to find a parking place and the public transportation was amazing. For the truly awkward treks, they bought a motorcycle, but mostly, they walked everywhere. While we were there, they expected us to walk everywhere, too. I was appalled.

It wasn’t the physical activity that appalled me. Even though I was severely obese at the time, I wasn’t going to let my fat get in the way. I was appalled at the homeless and pierced youth on the streets asking me for money. I was scared that they would attack me. I was pissed that they spent at least twenty dollars apiece for each of their multiple piercings. Why would they ask me for money if they had enough for a pierced tongue, two eyebrow piercings and that stupid thing right above their chin?

Kathleen and Cory couldn’t see them anymore. By then, she was stone thin, training for a bike race that spanned from San Francisco to Los Angeles. She hadn’t shaved her head yet, but Cory had. “It helps if you look like you belong here. You guys look like tourists.” I nodded my head. Damn straight. I AM a tourist. When do I get to see that wharf thing that everyone thinks is so great? I didn’t say it out loud, but I’m sure that my face told them exactly what I was thinking. I’m just that kind of person.

I remember Kathleen trying to comfort me. “I don’t give them any money. I used to when I first moved here, but they just remembered me and bugged me every day. Now, they’re just part of the city? you know?I see them every day so I’m used to them.” What she was trying to explain to me was so complex that I couldn’t have possibly understood it at the time, even if she had been able to find the right words. “I’m used to them” is about the closest she came to this feeling.


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