Today while leaving Cala Foods I got asked for change by a ubiquitous street person. I declined in my usual manner, by shyly shaking my head while walking and half-smiling, in an attempt to communicate through mime my disinclination to part with my cash even though later my suburban white guilt would give me no rest. A few steps away I glanced back over my shoulder at the guy. Sure enough, he was Fred Abramson, this kid I grew up with whose parents are best friends with my parents. The last time I saw Fred he was all cologne and cynical wisdom and big pretty eyes. Oh, and rich. Why would Fred need my spare change, I wondered?
Noticing that I had been standing directly in front of him and staring at him, Fred stood up and raised his eyebrows. “Take off your hat,” I said, wanting to see his face better and, as always, incredibly rude. (Somewhere in my teens I decided that being rude to everyone without prejudice was just as valid as being polite to everyone. Unfortunately, this belief sort of stuck. Sorry about that.) He took off his hat.
“My hair’s all messed up,” he said, looking self-conscious and rubbing his hair. I found this incredibly cute. Here he is begging for change and he’s worried about whether I’ll like his hair.
It occurs to me that this story would be better if the kid really had been Fred. But of course he wasn’t; Fred’s all studious and lives in the Haight and is, more to the point, not homeless. It was just an eerie resemblance. So where was I going with this? I think it was just homework avoidance.
Well, back to my essay.