Spare Change and Holy Matrimony

I’m walking home from a show late one night. A homeless guy is set up on a stoop, asking passersby for change. That’s not uncommon but his follow up line was.

“Aye man, you got a dollar?”

“Sorry, I don’t have anything.”

“C’mon man…I’m trying to get married.”

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I feel bad for the overwhelming majority of people who have been reduced to begging (including this guy). I’m not trying to ridicule his predicament. I am, however, going to ridicule his priorities. If you are destitute, there are many boxes you need to check off before  getting hitched. I’m not going to list them, but I’m going to guess there at least ten before we get to “Men’s Wearhouse tux deposit fee.”

What are you even going to do with the money? Use somebody’s crumpled up $5 towards a down payment on an engagement ring? How many pennies will Kay jewelers accept before they throw you out? Or maybe he’s planning to use it in ways that will make him immune to the usual beggar criticisms:

“Whatever man, you’re just going to use this to buy booze!”

“Uh…yeah, I am. Our reception is going to be open bar.”

The sad part is, this is the first time a homeless guy told me what he wanted to spend his money on and I thought, “He should probably just get drugs instead.” What with the divorce rates the way they are in this country, heroin might be a safer long term investment. “Dude, I’ll even buy the drugs for you. I just want to make sure you aren’t wasting your money on something stupid.”

I’m actually impressed by his bride-to-be. She presumably knows he’s a panhandler and wants to marry him anyway. Maybe she even tries to motivate him. “Are you going to sit around all day or are you going to get out there like a real man and beg for your money? You gotta want it in the begging game and you don’t go to the hole hard enough! Your cardboard sign isn’t sympathetic. You look too well-groomed. Mess up your hair. Wear sunglasses. Get a puppy to sit alongside you. Now get off your ass and go get on your ass someplace else!”

In all honesty, I felt a little uncomfortable writing this post. The plight of the homeless in this country is no laughing matter and shouldn’t be fodder for jokes. Anyway, I went back to see how I could help and he told me they’re registered at Macy’s, the ABC Store, and any bottle deposit center.


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