Biff America: Doing the ‘walk of shame’
Special to the Daily
It was 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning and I was on a “walk of shame.” Or, at least a middle-age, politically correct, health crazed version.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a walk of shame is an expression used to describe the often-embarrassing experience of walking home the morning after spending the night in a strange house while wearing the same clothing you had on the night before.
When I was single (back in the Hoover administration) I took my fair of the shame walks. Last Sunday, my walk had nothing to do with promiscuity but rather with a lust for nitrates.
My mate had a couple of visiting girlfriends spending the night. I knew if it were up to her, our guests would be served our usual breakfast of an omelet made from eggs laid by free-range, organically fed, well-cared-for chicks who loved their jobs and were registered Democrats. The breakfast would include gluten-free toast and tasteless plain yogurt, tofu and soy butter.
As delectable as all that sounded I thought perhaps our guests might like to celebrate the Sabbath with sausage rolls. Not sure what had gotten into me; I haven’t eaten stuff like that since my wife stopped letting me. But 2015 was a whole new year and I decided to assert my independence — until I got caught.
Not being familiar with the local sausage scene, I had to try a couple of places before I found one where I could get my pork products to go. I tucked the bag of swine discreetly inside my coat and headed down Main Street toward my car.
At that hour, on that cold Sunday morning, the street was mostly empty. I kept my head down for fear someone I knew might smell my contraband and tell my vegan friends.
In an instant the smell of the ham I was carrying was overwhelmed by the odor of cigarettes, body sweat and beer emanating off a fellow pedestrian.
My mate jokes that, like my hearing and vision, my sense of smell is going, so if I can smell someone, chances are they are pungent. He wasn’t exactly staggering, but he wasn’t traveling in a straight line either. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, had no hat and was wearing tennis shoes. Both hands were over his ears as he walked. And he seemed to be talking to himself.
He was terribly underdressed for the single-digit temperatures.
I slowed down, thinking that if he were to fall or pass out I could offer aid or at least call the cops. He stopped in front of a bench and sat down hard. He swayed a little, regained his balance and sat up. Thinking he might try to sleep there on that freezing morning I stopped and pretended to be talking on my cell phone.
He looked to be a little older than me, but it is very possible he was much younger. He was haggard, needed a shave, his face was red and he was shivering. There are better places to be homeless than a ski resort so my guess was he wasn’t, but certainly he had seen better days.
He was talking, but I wasn’t sure if it was to me or to himself, until I got a little closer.
“Ma, it’s me, can you hear me? Happy New Year.” Turns out one of the hands covering his ears held a cell phone.
The fact that he had a phone and was able to speak (sort of) clearly told me my concerns for his safety were unfounded. I put my own phone in my pocket and walked on. But that was not before I heard him say, “I’m doing great, Ma, I’m at work right now, I got the check you sent, I used it to buy some warm clothes.”
Somewhere in America there was a mother holding a phone to her ear and worrying about her son. She wanted to believe he was doing well but she had been disappointed before. The guy looked rough, unhealthy, far from “doing great” but on the plus side there was at least one person out there who loved him unconditionally — as only a mother can.
I’m not unfamiliar with the concept of causing a mother concern. About 40 years ago, as I headed to court to learn my fate after getting caught doing something terribly wrong, my own Mum said, “You will always be my little boy and I will always love you no matter what.” That gave me hope.
It also gave me some hope that this worn-down guy shivering on a bench on a Sunday morning had someone who would stand by him no matter what. Would it be enough? Perhaps not, but with love there is hope.
I made an about face and approached him. He was no longer talking but he still had both hands over his ears with his head down. I said, “It’s a new year.” I placed the bag of pork next to him on the bench and headed home to eat tofu.
Jeffrey Bergeron, aka Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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