Friday, March 04, 2016

Hippy Hobo Baloney

There is no punchline to this story:

When I was seven I was sitting on my front porch. It was a very hot day.

I watched a man walk by our house. He was dressed, from head to toe, in blue denim. This was strange because it was so hot and the outfit looked heavy and ornate with little metal studs. He seemed young. He had long blonde hair and a scruffy beard. It was clear to me, back then, that this person was something special.

His jeans were flared at the bottom. Bell bottoms were the style back then. I wore them, too. They often were chewed up by our bicycle chains. This guy's bell bottoms were enormous (my memory may be embellishing this fact, but in my head - they were big and floppy). 

He was barefoot. I'll always remember he didn't have shoes on because the hot tar on the road had coated the bottom of his feet. He had pink skin on the top of his feet and the bottoms were blackened with oozing, sticky tar. 

This was back when they would spray the roads with tar and then follow up with gravel. Often there was much more tar than gravel. I remember wondering how he could stand to walk on the little stones and whether or not the tar would eat through the soles of his feet.

He was eating baloney as he walked. The yellow, plastic packaging let me know he was eating Oscar Meyer bologna. It was the kind of stuff we had in our fridge. Not the substandard Eckridge Farms pickle loaf that was gross but somehow made its way into our sandwiches every now and again.  

He was eating the entire stack of sliced meat. He didn't take individual slices. He bit through them all, simultaneously. 

This seemed outrageous back then. It still does today.

I know I stared at this person for a very long time because he is seared into my memory. He never noticed me. He just kept walking down the road on his magic, heat-resistant feet. 

I used to think he was a hobo. I thought he was on a journey of thousands of miles and just happened to pass by our house on the way to the other side of the country. Now that I think of it, he was headed east - probably to be a hobo in Manhattan, eventually.

The truth is, he was more than likely living just down the road in his parents' basement. He had probably had the munchies from smoking weed and he was so high the hot tar didn't have much of an impact until he woke up to two bloody stumps at the ends of his legs. 

But I'm going to hold on to the hobo idea. I like it better. 

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