I walked by Sunday, happy in the sunshine, showing off my new, New Jersey hair thrown up in a butterfly clip. My Louis Vuitton tote bag stuffed full of Pedialyte, Saltine crackers, Sprite and Gatorade. My 19-year-old son was home genuinely sick for the first time in his life. He needed his mama, and that made me happy, along with the sunny day and my new New Jersey messy hair style. I know it sounds a little twisted and Munchhausen Syndrome-ish, but if you knew the hell him and I went through during his teenage years of 15–17 it makes a little more codependent sense why I would be happy he was home and wanted me to take care of him.
A homeless man, or a great impersonator of one, at least 10 years younger than I, in real life not “mommy math” as I call it that keeps me perpetually 23. Well, this homeless man, I’m assuming he was homeless. He was possibly an actor doing research for a movie. Anyway, this man, this homeless actor man, with his bare feet, sun bleached Children of the Corn hair, and sun burned face asked me sweetly, “Do you have any change to spare?”
I don’t I said, realizing I actually didn’t have any change and thinking how sad that was. I used to always have change.
“Lying b*****, as he passed me angrily.
I felt it was my civic duty to enlighten him on exactly who he was talking to! How I was not only not lying, but I was most certainly not a bitch.
For your information, I begun, my 4 children and I have been homeless since February (it was now early June) in one of the most expensive cities in the country. This was a direct result of my loving husband of 10 year’s falling victim to deep and varied addictions that completely destroyed not only our marriage but my entire world. I may look completely put together, emotionally stable and like I don’t have a care in the world, but you are mistaken. Haven’t you ever been taught not to judge a book by its cover? Let me explain to you what you are really looking at when you look at me. Here before your judging eyes, is a woman in a $4 thrift store Ann Taylor dress. Yes, these are possibly name brand sunglasses, I really couldn’t say. I found them on the sidewalk last Tuesday. My pretty lipstick? It was a gift from my ex-friend’s 14-year-old daughter who possibly stole it from CVS last night. (Yes, I do have lotion, a razor and 99 cent store hair die, but I doubt he would think to notice that.)
I wash our clothes in the bathtub, I continue, with the little bottles of shampoo the hotel gives us for free, even though we have not paid the extremely sweet, and strongly Irish manager for the room in almost 3 weeks. I don't even have enough change to go to the laundromat, or the means to get our laundry there considering it is a good mile walk to the closest one. Did I mention I have no car? Are you aware you can't even buy laundry soap with food stamps? I had to learn that the hard way.
So, Mr. Homeless judger of life, and anyone remotely presentable in it, I meant it when I said I do not have any change to spare, and I meant it when I said I was sorry for that. I am sorry I don’t have it for you, and I’m sorry I don’t have it in general. Do YOU happen to have any change YOU can spare? You with your iPhone 8, Volcom shorts, and $12 fancy pack of cigarettes. Judge not, less you shall be judged.”
I said this very convincingly, shutting him down with righteous indignation as I stared after him. I watched thoughtfully as he turned the corner, wondering if I should have said any of that out loud.
I readjusted my heavy Lui Viton bag, borrowed from my daughter, and possibly obtained by less than honest means, by the same lipstick pocketing 14-year-old, onto my other shoulder and continued on my way. Being the glass-half-full kinda girl that I am, I smiled to myself. Thinking only, I must really look good in this dress!
The Calé Princess