Once again, we arrive at the end of the workweek, a slightly disheveled but ultimately hopeful place where the chance of sunshine matters more than it did on Thursday and we absentmindedly wonder if we should mix up a pitcher of margaritas when we get home or just hang our heads over the sink and pour the ingredients directly down our throats, Mexico-tourist style.
But what does the iPod say about the weekend or our predilection for salty, alcoholic drinks? As I’ve done for, oh, quite a while now, I consult the shuffled playlist on my morning’s commute for both my and your weekend events.
As Yul Brynner once said, as it is written, so it shall be done.
Further Complications by Jarvis Cocker
Never There by CAKE
Dance for Me by Southern Culture on the Skids
The Fear by Lily Allen
Ford Mustang by Serge Gainsbourg
Consolers of the Lonely by The Raconteurs *
I Go to Work by Us3
30 Days in the Hole by Humble Pie
Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen
Hmm. The songs want you to get back in touch with that guy. You know the one.
It also appears that you have a long-distance admirer.
Also, as my dad would say, you’re going to want to continue to avoid the heroin.
Meanwhile, back in Minneapolis, the indigent have arrived, after a six-month hiatus, no doubt in warmer climes; and the cardboard signs are out: Will Work for Food.
Can spring be far behind?
There was a time that I was susceptible to these signs. How could I not be? For a bright gal, I can be shockingly gullible. Raised by hard-working, self-sufficient types for whom asking for help is a last resort, I had little experience in how to answer the question, “Ma’am? Do you have any spare change?”
But of course, my good man! How else can I help you? You hungry? You got somewhere to stay?
It wasn’t long, however, before I noticed that, contrary to feeling good about helping someone out, I usually felt “had”. As a matter of fact, there were times when I felt downright grumpy about it.
And then came the day where I gave someone “bus fare, ma’am. If you could just give me bus fare so I could get home to my fambly…” Hey! Who doesn’t want to go home? Especially to fambly? I gave him the $2.50, wished him luck – and watched in mute, Midwestern horror as he hit up four more women for that same bus fare, watched as he climbed onto the same bus I did only to de-bus at The Moose, where there was a special on tap beers and dollar tacos…
Initially, I felt I had gotten nothing out of that exchange, but it wasn’t true.
I got wise.
This is not to say that I’ve stopped giving away my money.
I still pay my taxes, after all.
And I’ve been known to give money to the guitar player with the long hair and the incredible voice. And I give a dollar to the little accordion player and his South American polkas. And if that trumpet player that used to stand in front of the IDS shows up again this spring, I’m going to give him money, too.
But it’s not always about money.
It wasn’t long ago that I was coming home from Mary’s, exiting from 94. I was sitting at the lights, just blocks away from a paint-peelingly seedy little strip joint. Humorously, its sign, aside from the titillating “Topless Topless Topless”, also asserts that it’s been “Voted Best Pizza in Twin Cities”.
One can only shake one’s head. Voted by whom?
On this particular day, and in this lovely part of town, where free-range litter roams unencumbered by constraint and the sunlight hits the broken glass just so, there is a young woman – 20? 21? – standing at the lights and holding a sign.
Hitchhiking to California. Need Socks and Tampons.
I roll my window down.
She faces me.
“Really? Socks and tampons?”
She smiles. I can’t get over how young she looks. “Really.”
I dig frantically through my purse. The light will change soon…
“Here!” I yell.
She runs over to the car, and I hand her everything I can find.
“Oh, man! Thanks so much!”
“I’d give you my socks, but I’m not wearing any.”
“Yeah, but you’re giving what you have.” She smiles, all clear skinned and bright-eyed.
The light changes.
“Have a good day!” she says, backing away.
“Say “hey” to California for me!” I yell.
Sometimes you give, and it's a burden you add to other burdens.
But sometimes you give, and the load becomes lighter...
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