Coming of Age in a City Uninhibited by Disdain for Personal Boundaries
An alternate route which was intended to allow my body to intersect with a portion of Liberty Avenue that contained my bank’s ATM machine sent me strolling down the street, quite happy with depositing a fresh couple of checks that would secure the Yule season’s worth of gifts for those people who find themselves on my Google Talk frequent contacts list. The city street, quite the main corridor for men, women and the in-betweens traversing rush hour time and early morning space, was packed to its usual brim with polluting cars, smoking nurses and, of course, Trashman.
I can’t remember Trashman’s real name, but he’s a dirty, balding, crackhead of a black man, typically sporting two pony tails from the top of his head. I didn’t notice him off the bat as he recently shaved his head – but on second glance I recognized his grey-white-black beard and cracked lips talking to themselves as he simultaneously spotted me. Thus began a humor-ridden, uneasy morning of walking with T-man down the street.
But first, a bit of background on the Trashman. I first saw him on a sunny late Summer morning when I was feeling disconnected from my city, as I am usually; he was playing his small boombox on the street and talking to some respectable looking business types, so as they parted his company and I drew near I gladly shook his outstretched hand and when he told me his name I mistook it for something very princess sounding. He seemed offended, in a moment, but quickly turned his attitude as I walked away and he yelled some unintelligibles my way. He seemed the harmless bum type, so the next time I saw him in the park where my son and I walk through on our way home from his school I didn’t think much about saying hi and introducing him to my son. Bums are people too, I thought. As the conversation ended, Trashman slipped this final bit of flattery my way.
O-kay. We were off and I managed to avoid him until this morning. Not so much avoid him, I just hadn’t seen him.
Now I found myself confronted with the question, “Where are you going to?” He pronounced the g‘s at the end of his verbs quite well, considering the overwhelming slur he held over the rest of his consonants.
“The store,” I attempted to avoid any too personal questions.
Knowing that he tended to frequent the coffee shop I was actually going to, I tried to sidestep any further quality time he might be looking to spend with me, I mentioned the cigarette shop.
“I’ll walk with you.” Great. Okay, I thought, it’s only another block and he’ll break off and we’ll go on our seperate ways.
“What do you do for a living? What type of education does that require? Where did you go to school for that?” He was getting the shortest version of my backstory I could muster to withhold from him. And then the big one, “Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Is she sexual?”
“She’s a good one.”
“I didn’t ask you if she was g-g-good or not. I asked if she was sexual.”
“She’s a good girl,” as we came to the coffee shop door I slowed my pace to psyche him out and it seemed to work, he was a good yard ahead of me. But before he dipped in to the Crazy Mocha he turned to say “You’re sexy. Give me a call sometime, my number’s 412-”
“I’m not going to call you man.”
Perhaps I could have been more tactful but best to end it before I broke his heart. Of course, I was going into the coffee shop as well, but I headed straight for the bathroom to wash my hand after the drawn out shake he’d given it. I managed to order my drink, sit down, he asked me “Why don’t you let your hair grow long” and I told him I had to work, not to bother me.
Soon after a rather burly, well-built and not really fat at all construction worker came in. A real American hero type. Trashman turned to him and said “Hey there sexy.” The construction worker didn’t look pleased, but I doubt he recognized what Trashman was saying for all of the slur in his spitting, coughing throat. I figured that was the end of the encounter but Trashman decided that he would attempt to follow the guy into the bathroom – a one-manner of a washroom. Luckily the door was locked and a scene of shouting turned escalated violence where a bum is left bleeding and crying in the corner of my morning haven was avoided.
Another five or six men, mostly construction workers and delivery guys, have come in while I’m writing this. Each one, apparently, was quite “sexy.”