Perhaps the name is unfair, but it’s from the first time that I ever saw him. I was on the shuttle.
Did you ever notice that homeless people handle small objects differently than do the homed? It’s a slower, clunkier way of dealing with things. My hypothesis is that the extremities’ nerves are weather dulled and there’s not much reason to handle much of anything, so they simply stop practicing. I haven’t given this hypothesis much thought, but it’s something that I noticed in CBG right off the bat. That and his wild, blonde caveman hair.
Speaking of caveman—he actually appears to be the offspring of a deviant relationship between a cavewoman and David Lee Roth. Add years of meth use to the mix and you’ve got our man.
I’ve never talked to him, but I’ve seen him everywhere. Walking the streets of Covington on a number of occasions, riding the bus, walking the streets of Downtown Cincinnati, and, strangely enough, outside the Barnes and Noble in Florence (which is a good 15 minute drive from Covington with no traffic problems), wandering the parking lot. And only when it’s cold outside.
Yesterday, I was sitting in the back of the bus on the way home from work and he sauntered onto the bus at the 4th and Race stop. I was reading the latest Tin House (because I’m so goddamn hip) and I saw him get on, walk back, and then sit on the other end of the bench. You could say that he sat next to me, but there were four empty seats between us. But he sat next to me nonetheless.
I just realized that I’m beginning to sound like one of two things—(a) an asshole who makes fun of homeless people, or (b) a jackoff who is going to patronize his situation with an “ooh that’s so sad” tone. My intent is to do neither of these things—I’m getting to the review part of it.
Closely behind him followed his smell, which was exactly as one would expect it to be: earthy and unwashed, with a healthy dose of consumed liquor floating around in there somewhere. While not wholly unpleasant, I breathed as little as I could.
Instead of actually reading as I’d planned to, I used the magazine as subterfuge while I stole glances at him. He looks cognizant, I thought, looking back at the mishmash of words that were, effectively, the wool I was pulling over (apparently) nobody’s eyes. Is he as homeless as I think he is? Maybe he’s pulling some kind of check doing light industrial work and spends his off time walking around the city. I glanced at his hands. Dirty. Disgusting, actually, and the knuckles on his right hand were smashed flat. The skin was grey, unlike the reddish rest of him. He could have gotten that anywhere. I imagined him at work, in front of some machine putting labels on cans or something. It worked. I could totally see it, and I was convinced of it: this guy totally has a job.
And then he got off the bus between Coco’s and the Justice Center. I watched him unabashedly through the window, as though there were some barrier that might keep him from catching me staring. He picked a cigarette up from the ground and my assertion that he most certainly had a job fell to shit. CBG held the cigarette and looked at it for a moment and the only thing I could think while he did that was I wonder whether he recognizes me when I see him.