Friday, September 15, 2006
Social Experimentation, With Halftime
You see them on freeway offramps, at intersections, their cardboard signs out, toiling all day in the hot, hot sun soliciting your help and God's prayers upon you if you would only be so kind... And really, how could you not help someone out who can't manage to spell the word "bless"?

Hour after hour, week after week they stand there, only taking the rare break to answer their cell phone, check voice mail or run down to the McDonald's on their suspiciously nice looking mountain bike.

You know who they are. You pray for the light to stay green when you see them and then roll up the window if it doesn't. They're homeless people.

You remember them. Reagan made them all. Really, in that secret workspace a hundred miles below the White House, he formed them out of clay like golems, breathed the word of life into their ears, dressed them up in shabby clothes, decorated them with just the right musky scent of pickle brine, old beer and month-old brie and launched them onto American streets to hunt for communists, powered by the furnaces in their guts that burned the zinc from pennies.

In the long term, they would survive any nuclear attack, feeding on radiation and the heat from the explosions to make them harder, stronger, grow to giant size and rule the post-apocalypse world in the name of democracy, freedom and clay-monster rights. Was Reagan out of touch? Yes he was. But not because he was callous and unfeeling and half-way out of his Alzheimer's ravaged mind. It was because creating an army of street-roaming Soviet-proof automatons can be a time-consuming endeavor. He was busy ensuring America's survival.

Most of the golem-homeless are gone now, the victims of budget cuts at the end of the Cold War. What's left on the streets are the adherents they recruited, regular people, lost and simple, the type of a person who could be talked into something by a barely-animate object with no mouth.

In her campaign to raise public awareness of the plight of homeless people, Tipper Gore let us all in on the nasty secret that most of those who are on the streets are in some way clinically deranged. Her cold-blooded, heartless campaign single-handedly transformed the idea of the homeless from down-on-their-luck train-hopping hobo bon vivants to wild-eyed schizophrenics who only grow those long beards to hide rusty razors in so they can cut you if you got too close.

I used to give money to homeless people, comfortable in the knowledge that they were only going to spend it on booze or drugs or underage street prostitutes. Once I found out they were crazy, I stopped. No way was I getting myself into crazy-man rusty-razor arm's-length range. I could die or get tetanus. I could stand to lose a pound or two, but lockjaw really isn't the way I want to do it. Or worse, they could take my kindly offered money and spend it on affordable Canadian psychiatric drugs. I refuse to aid or abet treason.

Still, since they lost their golem overlords, they're out there, without guidance, exposed to the elements, our co-humans suffering and unloved. Every once in a while I will give. To a properly marketed third-party organization that assures me the money will be allocated to homeless relief. And then only if they send nubile, earnest co-eds to solicit at my door. But still, it's something.

What have you done for the homeless lately?

There's a company in the UK who organizes a whole soccer tournament for homeless people. Yes, there is a Homeless World Cup. I don't want to read the article in depth for fear it will ruin the image I have in my head of what the event entails. I like to think of it as something like Bumfights but with a ball. Like, for instance, you're allowed to cut a guy going for goal with the business end of a broken malt liquor bottle so long as you don't use your hands.

And at the end of it, the winning team gets a lopsided trophy of tin-foil around stacked cardboard toilet-paper tubes. Yeah, scoff if you want, but at least these people, these winners, can raise a glass of fine pruno, gaze at that trophy before them and think: "Finally, something to shit in."

Sure, maybe they could really use something to eat and a place to live, but a soccer tournament, well, it keeps them busy for a while. Long enough at least for the organizers to implant the foil-hat-proof mind-control chips and perform all the medical experimentation they can squeeze in. The homeless people give more to the world than most of us realize. After all, there are only so many organ transplants you can practice on dogs before you have to dress-rehearse on the real thing. You don't cut open employed tax-payers and start poking around just to see what stuff does. Think about that next time your liver fails, drunky.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.6



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