How many times, on average, do you get panhandled in a year? Outside Seven Eleven's, churches, bus stops, pay toilets, you name a public gathering spot and chances are you have been shaken down by a nice homeless person several times this past week. How do you handle this without being rude or being beaten to death?
I once had a good friend who could pick his ass, pick his nose and eat an orange, all at the same time. He was magnificent. We weighed about the same in the fifth grade, about 165 pounds. Neither of us turned to begging, even when times were hard. I have been homeless and partially naked outside in the winter, yet I have never panhandled anyone. My butt picking, orange eating friend who everyone believed would die young and leave a bloated corpse has prospered to the point of having a good job and a family. Yet even he, when times were down rather than up, never stooped to panhandling. Why do some?
Earlier today, as I was driving home from my paper route, a fat lady bum, with buttocks making a groovy jazz sound as she walked, accosted me in front of the Seven Eleven. Accosted may be too strong a word, but she did take my arm and twirl me around until her dirty countenance (and big breasts!) was staring me in the face. She didn't look sick, or mad, or for that matter particularly ignorant. But she was dirty, and I could smell the fragrance of day old shit wafting from her buttocks. I could get used to that, I thought. My old school buddy also often smelled of shit, in his day. And to her bosoms I could add my mouth. That is if she would consent to having them washed first. I was about finished being twirled, when at the very moment our eyes met, each one of the four focusing on its opposite, one at a time, I realized that this lady bum was a girl I had known in high school. Not only had I known her, but I had brushed against her in the hall on March 7th, 1973. I remember the date, as the memory took care of me for years.
Her name was Lydia and in high school she was really good looking, although I don't quite remember her face. But good looking nonetheless. We were both in the tenth grade when I brushed up against her. This I thought might be the harbinger of my very first sexual experience (with another person). I actually felt each of her giant breasts, each one roundly in my hand, which was cupped as if I were excising orange juice from the fruit. This was pretty good. The whole thing couldn't have lasted more than ten seconds. And that was it. We never touched again, and never, ever spoke. Although I made love to her in my bedroom many times (as part of my parade of party gals) we never enjoyed a mutual experience again. Until that day at the Seven Eleven.
"Are you Lydia", I asked. "Did you go to Princess Anne High School back in the seventies"? I realized then, that through the years Lydia had become something of a non-talker, and rather than answer me, she squeezed her breasts together in a futile attempt (I think) to get some sort of sound from them. She squeezed and squeezed until, out of breath, she pushed me to the ground and started to perform a pseudo sexual act with me, forgetting I suppose that we were still dressed. We were on the side of the building and it would have been OK to enjoy a premarital connubial or two. Lydia pushed too hard, though, and I fell on my buttocks and received a slight scratch on my rear. We were still dressed, so I don't think she would have rejected me here, at this juncture.
Lydia began making those familiar motions that suggested quite strongly that she was interested in making love. Better call that fucking, because she had already pushed my face into her breast area and that of course is the dividing line between regular hanging around, not doing anything, and the beginnings of intercourse. I had up until this time had a rather secluded and modest love life, and this very exciting turn of events in the alley next to Seven Eleven with a dirty old lady bum that I knew from high school could just be the start of something big for me. I wasn't being panhandled. I was being manhandled, by a woman, and loving every dirty, filthy moment of it.
Again, Lydia tried communicating with me by squeezing her breasts together, apparently to achieve some sort of honking sound. Perhaps she had done this before, and it was important to her to communicate to the object of her affections. But squeeze as she might, no discernible sound came from her bosoms. Why she could not (or would not) talk was yet unknown to me, but as she banged my head to the asphalt (perhaps in a crude attempt to get some sort of honking sound from that which she could not get from her breasts) our eyes again focused on their opposites and her hind parts began to coordinate somewhat better with her front parts and we were now at stage two of our dirty lovemaking at the Seven Eleven.
Just then, an associate of hers, another bum, came into the alleyway from the front of the building. This man was easily in his sixties, what with his well weathered face hanging out behind his white beard and 1960's era shopping cart which carried his everyday essentials, I surmised. He stood and watched as Lydia began taking my pants down, perhaps to see if I was worthy of her squeeezy, but non-honkable breasts. I knew I was. I, more than any man who might be passing by, was worthy of those two; but Lydia wanted to check me out, just to be certain I was good enough to be ravished by her.
I felt I was choking, when just as suddenly as she had began this whole session, Lydia jumped up, tried out her two bosoms again for sound, put out her hand for money, and then ran off with the older man, his pants down to his ankles and his luck now about to change. Again, I missed my chance with Lydia, though I would say that this time around I was not quite as disappointed. I will always have the memory of us in that alley and the hope that one day she will be able to get some sound from her breasts.
But how do you avoid panhandlers? You could walk like they do, as if the ship they are on in their minds is listing and they need to stroll, still elegantly, at a corrective angle. Do this as well, and they will avoid you, just as related pigs in a slaughter house look straight ahead as they head for the kill room to avoid the painful stares of older family members coming back from the kill room, having been rejected for some defect or other. Pig or panhandler, it makes no difference. No one loves a loser.
However, nothing will stop the real, nothing to lose panhandler, and he will accost you no matter how you handle yourself. When this happens it is important to be prepared with bus tokens and coupons for diet milkshakes from the nearest drugstore. Your panhandler will ask for money for the bus (but really, where is he going?) and will always ask for money for food (when what it is they want is money for drink) so if you give them a token of your appreciation in being asked, and the token is a repulsive item like a bus ticket or coupon for a diet milkshake, then you more than likely have fended off this particular person as long as his short term memory will allow him to forget you.
Be prepared. Do not get caught without some item that although viewed as a handout and thanked for, is actually considered an insult by the panhandler. If you give the cash that they want, you will be tagged, and instantly pegged by this one and others on the grapevine as an easy touch. Once you remove this stain upon you, only then can you consider yourself free. Panhandlers hate bus coupons and diet milkshakes. They love change.
Of course, before I wrote this article, about twenty five lines ago, I too often fell for the games and hijinks of the guys with the outstretched palms. Just last week, while reaching for a double chocolate donut in a Seven Eleven, an aging lady hobo, with thick black curls and a nicely dimpled chin (which made her look sort of like a Jack Paar, Zazu Pitts combination down on her luck) made a move for the same donut, even though it was well known that she wouldn't have been able to pay for it, even if she had been able to wrangle it from me. I wondered at her motivation. By the way, double chocolate donuts are exceptionally good when dunked in diet Pepsi…this is true, don't laugh or deride something just because you haven't tried it. You really deprive yourself of an adventure in tasting when you wave something off just because it seems different, or ugly. It took years for corned beef and mayonnaise sandwiches to gain acceptance in this country because of the same attitude. My advice is to try something, and then if you don't like it, then you can run home or over to the gas station and use the toilet there. I'll give you the dime myself, just so you have no excuse.
So we both had our hands on the donut. Her dirty, but dainty hand clamped around it like a clam babying its pearl, me with my pinky finger hooked into the hole. I realize that she had acquired more of a property right in the donut by virtue of her clam hold, and that my pinky hooking it was probably not enough to hold up in court, but damn it, I wanted that donut, and I knew that Zazu Paar was going to steal it and not pay for it. This was the opposite of what I intended to do, pay for it and not steal it. Certainly, this is not direct panhandling, but it was nevertheless a direct affront to my honor. I was going to pay for the donut and she was not. I say therefore that my pinky hold on the item carries more weight than her entire clammy hand on it. But the whole point of me writing, dear reader, was to advise you on how to handle panhandlers, so what to do? What did I do? I must admit I gave in. I acquiesced rather than go to war. I don't view it as appeasement however, as many of you might. It was rather a strategic move on my part, in no way giving in or up in my fight against panhandling. While I did allow the lady bum to get the double chocolate donut, the one I admit I wanted so; I gained two things. I avoided a direct fight with the dirty miss and when I unleashed the donut, I spied a most appetizing apple pastry sprinkled with sugar that I immediately fingered with my entire hand and took to the counter, where I paid for it. The lady bum, with the double chocolate job clammed to her hand, ran out the store, skipping merrily into the dawn's mist with her stolen goods. I felt better having not stooped to fight her, but yet I had the eerie sensation I had seen her before.