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The Vagrant

I tripped over a homeless man this week as he lay snoozing on my doorstep in the early morning.

Initially, I hadn’t the faintest notion of who or what he could be. So I gazed down upon the salty lump, and at the off-chance that it might be human, said to it, “Excuse me kind figure, would you please be so generous as to refrain from hibernating on the port deck of my humble domicile during future fortnights.”

Afraid, he hurriedly awoke from the untimely disturbance, and tore open his crusty eyelids. When he caught a glimpse of me, he recoiled like a venomous predator. Then he most unnecessarily squirted a mixture of blood and saliva into the very direction of my facial area, while uttering something unpronounceable, “Mmmnnehh…”

Mmmnnehh? I was caught aghast. “Sir,” I calmly replied while wiping my face, “please refrain from expunging repugnant fluids. And would you mind kindly enunciating when you iterate?”

“Mmmnneh…” he repeated, wetter and louder. His voice was gruff, harsh. “You think you’re so fancy-dancey, underpantsy in yer clean clothes with yer big words.”

After considering for a moment just how spiffy I had indeed looked, prior to my mucous shower anyway, in my, dare-I-call-it “sporty” green polo, and my crispy khakis with the obligatory cuff and the crease, I grew slightly insulted, realizing his insinuations were of a crude and offensive nature. “Sir,” I hastily retorted, “I certainly don’t think I’m better than anyone.”

“Mmmnneh.”

He picked a spider from his hair and clumsily crumpled it within his fingers. I watched as it oozed…one of those, too disgusting to turn away, sights…like Kathy Bates skinny-dipping in a hot tub with Jack Nicholson. .

Then he glanced back up at me to see if I was still observing him. He noticed a Celtics cap perched upon my neatly groomed bob and weave, and began to chuckle, almost sickly, to himself.

“Sure ain’t better than dem Pistons, are ya?” he said.

The pain of his cruel words struck me like a bee sting to the urethra. My confidence deteriorated faster than Britney’s looks; this bum may have had a point.

“Bad boys, biatch!” he continued, as he pumped a fist.

Emotions flared. Anger. Then sadness. Then more anger.

As I stood there, humiliated, I sank into a depressed tailspin. For years, I had worked to achieve a certain standard of living…a posh lifestyle provided by an Ivy League education…a chiseled masculine figure. This bum, on the other hand, had nothing. And yet, at this precise moment, I couldn’t deny one singular, cold, hard truth; this vagrant from Detroit was a winner…and I was a loser.

Like any devoted sports fan would, I began to consider that maybe it’s not material items and material successes which define us as people. On the contrary, maybe it’s merely the successes and failures of the sporting franchises we are born to follow, which first-and-foremost dictate our hierarchical standing within this great nation of non-acceptance that we call America.

Maybe we were born to be separate and unequal. Perhaps some groups really are better than others. And perhaps our allegiances to our own homogenous peoples are truly all that matter in this world. Maybe we shouldn’t all “just get along.” Maybe it’s okay to hate others who aren’t like us.

The bum continued to smirk. I was certain that I hated him.

For my own sanity, I needed to relieve him of that Chesire grin. So I muttered, almost as if trying to convince myself, “We’ll come back against the Wizards, tonight.”

“In Washington…on the second night of a back-to-back?” He laughed in my face.

I struggled to keep my composure, trembling almost violently. But he was right, of course; not only did we lack the talent and experience to win, but rumors were running rampant that Vegas had listed the odds of our starting point guard getting gunned down by rapper Fabolous in a drive-by on the way to the game, at 2 - 1. Good, I tried to convince myself, if Telfair can’t play, maybe Doc can start Rondo then, and we’ll have a better chance of winning.

But I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe any of it.

“You guys couldn’t beat the Wizards if you scored 115 points, shot over .525 from the field, and out-rebounded them by 15!” the greasy vagrant continued.

“Let’s not get ridiculous,” I responded, “no-one can 115 points, shoot .525 from the field, out-rebound their opponent by 15…and lose. That’s quite impossible.”

I was a bit on edge, but at least I was gaining my confidence back. Predicting a Celtics loss was one thing. But this gentleman’s assertions were otherwise mindless and ill-reasoned. Statistics and probability would prove this vagrant wrong..

“…Celtics could,” he insisted.

And now it was my turn to laugh. For winning an argument against this witless bumkin would surely be even easier than Anna Nicole Smith’s attempts to find a husband at a retirement home.

“Tell you what,” I said, “if the Celtics score 115 points, shoot .525 from the field, out-rebound the Wizards by 15, and lose…I will trade you my house for your blanket.”

******************************************

A man of my word, I relay to you this story from the front stoop of the home I once called my own. My stubble grows thick and wiry as I lie upon the concrete slab that is my bed. With bated breath I shudder to consider how I might fare should the neighbors’ sprinklers happen to come on…for tonight it is too cold to bathe.

The street-cleaner will awaken me at 6:00 again tomorrow morning, spraying dirt and unknown substances on my person, but the good news is that I expect to rest here quite peacefully until then. Though my lap-top batteries will soon become exhausted, rendering my only communication with sophisticated humanity, useless, do not fret for me, fellow Celtics fans. I will continue to “hang tough”, just like our hometown New Kids on the Block used to inspire us to do whenever overwhelming hardships would become prevalent.

Like you, I continue to wait anxiously for the day when the Celtics will raise another championship banner. Perhaps when that day finally comes, we can then all band together as one entity, to storm my old house…and burn it to the ground.