The other day I went to lunch at the Australian Bakery near my house. Mmmmmm, Australian Bakery. As I was ambling back home, I was accosted by a dirty fellow. He was wearing a filthy, blue-and-gray-striped polo shirt, and carrying a Mr. Coffee in a plastic bag.
Having been a resident of this city for going on two years, I was instantly cognizant of his agenda. I had crossed the street in plenty of time, making sure to look this way and that as if merely looking at the interesting… vacant lot… and absolutely not as if I was trying to get away from a thieving panhandler.
I was unsuccessful.
He crossed the street, remarking loudly that “Hey! You look like that guy…. Honey I Shrunk the Kids!”
Shaking his head in wonder at the incredible similarity between me and HoneyIShrunkTheKids, he smiled at me. Actually, it was probably his best salesman grin. I grimaced back, which he must have taken as some kind of encouragement. Maybe any response other that a brick to the head would have been encouragement to this guy.
“How you doin’?”
I shrugged noncommitally. I can’t explain it, but it seems to be impossible for me to be rude to these guys, even though I know what’s coming.
“Lemme tell you, man, ‘couple days ago…”
He launched into his spiel, which included being robbed at gunpoint of his wallet including his driver’s license and everything. He even had a really nasty, though unscabbed and therefore several weeks old, gash above his right eye. He pointed to it as proof of his mugging. It was honestly pretty ghastly, and I said so. Then I asked if he went to the ER, and he demurred. I think I threw him off by actually being interested in his injury. It should have had stitches. I said it was going to scar pretty badly, but he claimed that getting stitches would have scarred worse. Ok…
I gave him two dollars, hoping that would be enough for him to go away. I had to kind of rummage in my pocket, trying to get dollar bills out of my wallet without taking the wallet out of my pocket and displaying the $20 bill I knew was in there. Damn $20 bill.
But that wasn’t enough. He wanted more, mentioning that he wanted to go get a couple Krystal burgers and needed a few dollars to do so ’cause you can’t just get on o’ them burgers, just one o’ them’s just a tease.
He kept walking beside me– I was walking reaaaally slow, because I was half a block from my house and didn’t want to lead this guy there– and telling me what he really needed was…. and he paused to think about it, gauging how much he might possibly beg from this caucasian sucker… and finally came up with the number “8”. I demurred. He then tried to sell or give me the Mr. Coffee in his plastic bag, asking if I drank coffee or if anybody in my family drank coffee. I said no. No I don’t want the coffee maker. In my head I’m going “I DON’T WANT YOUR FUCKING STOLEN COFFEE MACHINE ASSHOLE”. Really dude, I don’t even want to tell you that I don’t drink coffee.
I tell you, this guy was annoying. I seem to attract annoying panhandlers. I wound up giving him another dollar then lying to him about my profession when he asked, claiming to be a poor music teacher with no talent other than singing a bit. Why did I lie? You know why I lied.
Realizing that $3 was my limit, he finally let me go, walking up the street in the opposite direction from me waving and as he left he turned and said “You really look like that guy, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.”
I made it into my little house and locked the damn door. Then looked out the window and of course he was walking by. I really want to like people, I do, but this kind of shit is aggravating. It’s not just the panhandling that I hate, it’s the fucking lies. So many panhandlers have a story, and it’s not their real story. Not that I want to hear their real story; I don’t want to talk to them at all. I don’t want to talk to any random strangers on the street, unless they’re hot chicks in bikinis juggling copies of Camus.
But if a panhandler has to babble at me, which they apparently do, something different once in a while– abducted by aliens, on a cross-country trip with Elvis, undercover for the CIA, something other than “My car broke down, it’s right over there I’ll show you” or “I just need money for the bus/phone” or “I got mugged yesterday look at my gash”– would make me get my wallet out a lot quicker. Or maybe not. There’s a guy who stands on the corner near my office every day, and when you walk by he says “Great joke, 50 cents!” I’ve yet to cough up the four bits. But he’s trying, and I appreciate that. He’s there every day, so he’s gotta be getting some action, right?
I guess if panhandlers were inventive they might not be on the street. Am I making a terrible assumption there? I can’t tell. I’m judging by the fact that I hear the same lies over and over. Maybe they work, and that’s why they’re so popular. Why do they all come up with variations of the same thing? Is there some kind of panhandling school?
And on top of the same old boring lie, this guy on this day was carrying a coffee machine he had taken from some poor schmo who now has to go through life without his morning Sanka. I just know it. But worst of all, he said I look like Rick Moranis.
No offense to Mr. Moranis, who is a funny guy I’ve enjoyed watching for many years, back to Bob and Doug McKenzie. I must have seen Strange Brew 30 times. I taped it off a free HBO weekend when I was about twelve, and it just made my sides hurt I’m telling you. And he was awesome in Ghostbusters, and I’m sure his country music is quite passable.
But I don’t want to look like the guy.
My friend Sally has on several occasions said I look like Mike Myers. This is actually the least offensive comparison I think. Mike Myers was the SNL guy who did the “I’m a Handsome Man” sketch after all. But really, do you want to go through life with people thinking you look like Wayne from Wayne’s World?
So there’s that. The Rick Moranis thing is actually the most recent comparison, and the Mike Myers the first. In between there is an incident that happened maybe a year and a half ago. Actually, it’s happened twice.
I went back to Pennsylvania to visit my parents, and attend a banquet in their honor. They’re very well liked, because they do this. It was long and dull, but nice to see my Mom and Dad get fawned over for being awesome. At the table this lady, a bit older but kind of attractive, turned to me and claimed that I was the spitting image of Jack Osbourne. Jack fucking Osbourne. And this was pre weight-loss:
I stopped being attracted to the lady.
That wasn’t the last time either. A few months later at a concert by a friend of mine, this guy came up to us after the show… he didn’t really come the whole way up to us, because as he approached he asked “Are you Ozzy’s…” I was already shaking my head.
“Ah.” He was crestfallen, shook his head a couple times apologetically, and turned away.
Perhaps I should enter a contest or something. I know it sounds kind of mean to be like “I don’t want to be compared to these hideous people” but come on, they’ve got other things going for them. They’re not losing THEIR identities! Not to mention, they’re rich!
Mike Myers has been a $20-million-a-pic man for years. Osbourne’s the scion of rock n’ roll legend, basically set for life unless he overdoses. And from his television show, probably kind of a dick. And I’m pretty sure Moranis has some of that Disney money left. Enough to goof around putting out albums of country music at least. God.
So I hope you’ll excuse me for wanting to look like my own middle-class self and preserve the self-image that I’m marginally more handsome than the Key Master, although I bet there’s a couple takes that hit the cutting-room floor where he got to make out with Sigourney Weaver. Best. Gatekeeper. Ever.