Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

There’s a lot of middle-aged men standing on street corners in Denver, holding cardboard signs. On my dog Titus’ way home from the dog park there’s always someone at one red light. Not always the same guy. Seems to be a good corner.

I’m always in a good mood when I see homeless guys there. How could I not? I’ve just run 3 with Titus, and he’s run 6, off leash: chasing and being chased and wrestling with dogs. Now we’re heading home, Titus beside me keeping watch, Marvin Gaye blasting.

At a few big watering holes in the Cherry Creek dog park the hominids stop to watch the dogs. The hominids laugh and laugh because the dogs are having so much fun. A lot of the dogs chase tennis balls, but usually Titus finds a medium-size stick and hoists it in his mouth, and shakes the hell out of it. He pretends to drop it, then grabs it from the swimming hole and hoists it up in his mouth again, and shakes the hell out of it, and pretty soon a retriever runs up and grabs one end of it, and the game is on.

We follow the creek upstream to the last swimming hole, then emerge onto dry land and run north another kilometer to the gate and get in the truck.

Last week a guy was at that corner, standing by a beat-up old bicycle. His sign said: “I live with my wife in” and the rest of his sign was covered by his hand. I waved him over.

I grabbed a small handful of small coins from a cup-holder and handed it to this guy, who was unwashed and beat-up. He looked down and saw not just a quarter, but a mess of ‘em.

I saw his entire body relax. “Thank you, bro,” he said.

“Thank you too, man,” I said. “I been there.”

We chatted a bit, he praised my dog, then the light changed, and I left and he remained.

Please do not believe that I mean to praise myself for giving that man a handful of change.

I’m saying that when he saw $2.53 or so in his hands, he couldn’t believe his luck.

$2 or $3, my fellow Americans.

It makes no difference to me what brought that man to the streets — whatever he did or did not do in his own life that brought him there. With a wife.

It makes no difference because he’s a human being, and I will never know what he suffered in his life. All I know is that a handful of change made a difference to him.

Does a handful of change make any difference to you?

In your life?

Look: I throw my supermarket change into the cup-holders in the pickup, so I ne’er need worry about parking meters. I hand some of it to the guys on the street corners. I always try to give something to guys with little kids.

We are a rich country, my friends. The richest country in the history of the world. Why, then, when we have enough money to build pleasure palaces for dogs, are we not only not handing our national spare change to poor victims of hunger, rape, oppression and torture, but throwing them and their malnourished children into prisons, by the thousands?

We all know why. It’s because a delusional reality TV star has a tremendous following, despite his documented history of fraud, deceit, tax evasion, stiffing the little guy, sexual predation, functional illiteracy, malice, and lies, lies, lies.

Mark Twain said: “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

Please pardon me for speaking sin pelos en la lengua, but I’ve been seeing a lot of bumper stickers lately that say: “I Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Every time I see one of them I think to myself: “What else do you stand for, motherfucker?”

(Courthouse News columnist Robert Kahn’s mother abhors such language. “Robert,” she says, “there’s no excuse for that language. And you have such a good vocabulary.” To which Robert replies, “But, Ma, it’s exactly what I want to say.”)

%d bloggers like this: