Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Our bum

Philippe is one of the men who sit on the street and beg. He is stick thin, has cataract blue eyes and is toothless. He is also clean. He is not homeless.

He used to sit with his very old dog during the marché, although his other haunts include outside the supermarket Contact (Formerly Carrefour and formerly Shoppi and whose name will probably change again) and the church when Mass is getting out.

He is not aggressive. A hat is in front of him, a NYPD baseball cap he wears, although this week he started sporting a fedora.

We started by giving him a Euro and his dog a biscuit. Then his dog disappeared during the cold. When I asked, he said she was "A la fin."  She reappeared on a few warmer days, but we suspect she has died since we haven't seen her for at least two months.

When it was really cold, we would buy him a coffee. Sometimes we chat with him, although I find him hard to understand. He always has a smile.

I would love to know his story, but I don't feel I have the right to ask him and I also would have to ask him. In a way we consider him "our bum."

Whenever I see a person that is down and out I think of the Christine Lavin's song:

I was standing on 6th Avenue at the corner of 53rd Street
Waiting for the bus
Token in my hand
Thinking about Dinner and what I would eat
That's when I saw him all dirty and ragged
Begging for nickles and dimes
I got on the bus
Rolled away
But one thing stayed in my mind

He once was Somebody's Baby
Someone bounced him on her knee
Do you think she has any idea
What her little boy's grown up to be?

I was walking through riverside park
On a beautiful afternoon
Telling my neighbor about the vacation
I planned to be taking soon
That's when I saw her all dirty and ragged
Drinking a bottle of wine
I turned my head
Walked right on by
But one thing stayed in my mind

She once was Somebody's Baby
Someone bounced her on his knee
Do you think he has any idea
What his little girl has turned out to be?

In the back of a checker cab stopped at a light
Heading toward Broadway
To see the latest critically acclaimed
Pulitzer Prize winning play
That's when I saw them outside the shelter
Forming a ragged line
We pulled away
I didn't look back
But one thought stayed in my mind

They once were somebody's babies
But somewhere their lives went all wrong
Next time you see them don't think the worse
Why not try to think of this song?

No comments: