I'm prettier than you are.
Monday, 28 October 2002
"Hungry Jew"

"No Jew should go hungry," I say as I hand Eric four quarters and point at the scrawled "Hungry Jew" sign propped up by his feet.

He thanks me profusely, and smiles with his entire face. Blue eyes, decent teeth. Messy dark brown hair spilling out from beneath a baseball cap. Navy blue sweatpants, zipper sweatshirt, and sneakers.

"Kosher Food Needed," his second sign says.

The signs are why I stopped in my tracks at the corner of 19th Street and Fifth Avenue. The decent conversation is why I stayed for about half an hour. We have a lot in common, Eric and I, aside from being Jewish. Wandering Jews.

He loves my hair.

"It did come out good today, didn't it," I say with a laugh. "But it could use highlights, don't you think?"

"It's beautiful the way it is," he says. "You are absolutely gorgeous."

He hopes the man in my life treats me like a princess. I tell him he does. He tells me I deserve it, that he would treat me like a queen too if he were able.

He can't believe that not only did I stop to give him a dollar but that I am staying to talk to him for as long as I am.

We talk about quite a lot in a half hour. We talk about how obnoxious people are. How people are shallow and selfish. We talk about Mayor Bloomberg and agree that his voice grates on our nerves.

He wants to have coffee with me. I tell him I'll pass by again sometime this week and bring him coffee. We can talk again sometime soon. I'm on Fifth Avenue a lot.

"No," he says. "I'll buy you coffee. If I'm lucky, you'll sit with me on a bench and talk to me again."

I want to believe him. I want to think he really is down on his luck. I want to believe him when he tells me he is a songwriter and has a CD. I want to believe him when he tells me he has been on the radio in Alabama, where he is from, and where he hopes to return once he gets enough money for a bus ticket home.

I want to believe him, but I don't know if I do. I think I do. He tells me that in 1984, in Malibu, California, he woke up and found Paul Newman giving him a blowjob. I even want to believe that.

fresh-baked at 02:40 PM

I believe that was Paul's "blowjob" phase. He was inspired by the "Handjobs Across America" which was wildly popular in West Virginia where whole families would come together in celebration.

Offered by: Thomas on October 28, 2002 03:30 PM

I knew Paul was into philanthropy, but this a bit much even for him.

Offered by: tim on October 28, 2002 03:35 PM

Spaghetti sauce, Lemon-aid, Salsa, Pop-corn AND blowjobs? WOW!

Offered by: Sally on October 28, 2002 03:58 PM

Nice. Post, that is.

Offered by: Kelly on October 28, 2002 04:10 PM

Thanks, Kelly, for getting it.

Offered by: Jodi on October 28, 2002 04:18 PM

What a very nice entry in your online diary! It's actually very moving. I hope you can share a cup of coffee with this young man.

I simply cannot believe that people are still talking about Paul's fellatio period. It was a difficult time, it really was. But it is over and we should put it behind us. At least it inspired him to create his tastiest and creamiest Ranch dressing.

Offered by: Joanne Woodward on October 28, 2002 04:53 PM

"Paul Newman Goes Down on Jewish Hobo Songwriter"

- I don't know about Paul, but I'm not swallowing that.

Offered by: Max on October 28, 2002 06:29 PM

Love this Jodi. You are probably the first thing to make that guy smile in ages. Believe him - whether or not everything he said is true - sometimes we just have to believe simply because we want to.

Offered by: Allison on October 28, 2002 08:57 PM

Jodi, you're one of the good ones.

I don't think he was lying per se. People in manic or schizophrenic episodes can tell some whoppers and be incredibly manipulative. But that doesn't mean they don't need companionship. Maybe it means they feel the need to fabricate grandiose stories to be "worthy" of your company. Maybe the line between reality and fantasy is blurred because of their brain chemistry.

It doesn't matter if what he said is true or not. I have no doubt he thought it was true when he said it. I have no doubt he's somewhere right now, treasuring the moment when the nice lady treated him like he was a person that was worth something, and not just a piece of trash.

Offered by: BeerMary on October 28, 2002 09:05 PM

I agree, Allison and Mary, that it doesn't matter if everything he said was true. That's precisely the point I was making. I'm glad you got it!

Offered by: Jodi on October 28, 2002 09:11 PM

Believing him may end up being worth far more than the few bucks in his hand. It validates him in far more ways than stone cold reality. Good for you.

Offered by: Tanya on October 28, 2002 11:53 PM

I hope you see him again, and bring him coffee anyway. Sometimes you find a diamond in the rough.

Offered by: mike on October 29, 2002 12:44 AM

Bless you.....and enjoy the company!

Offered by: Joan on October 29, 2002 03:38 AM

it's not about the stories. it's about having someone to tell them to.

i hope the two of you get to have coffee. i have my own "regular." i call him mr. pink, because he sits in front of the pink store on my way to work. sometimes we have coffee. sometimes i bring some bagels, or some fruit. he doesn't care...he's just glad for the company. and, i've come to realize that i am, too.

Offered by: julia on October 29, 2002 11:22 AM

Beleive him. There are so few people in this world that would even give this man a second look. You made his day by chatting with him. I hope you two have coffee.

Offered by: Mary Carmen on October 29, 2002 07:05 PM