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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Cheers to Mike

Published: March 10, 2006
Section: Opinions

Let me guess, classes are over and youre coming home to get drunk, the homeless man said to me while sipping a 40 of Steele Reserve and sporting a cheek to cheek grin.

You got it Mike, youre always right on, I said, as I thought about what a perfect way this was to be greeted week after week on Friday afternoons after classes at age 19. Every Friday, without fail, I got lectured on American society, learning all about Thomas Jefferson and his story of rags to riches, and came home to see Mike sitting on my doorstep. Most of the time I continued the conversation from just a meet and greet.

How was your sleep last night?

Great Nate, nice and warm. Haha I didnt even mean to rhyme and I still did. Love it when that happens.

Mike had made a comfortable home for himself on the couch in our basement, which had no lock, thanks to our landlord named Dick, who let us hand in our rent up to 2 months late so long as he didnt have to fix the broken-ass house. But I didnt mind Mikes presence, didnt mind that he slept three floors below me. I appreciated his rotten-toothed smile because he was the happiest and savviest homeless man I had ever met. Well I suppose the only homeless man that I had ever really met.

Regardless, this was a relief because, generally speaking, I hate homeless people. I cant stand them. Not because they beg for money, that I can get over. And not because theyre dirty, thats not much of a bother to me either. Its simply because they are bad at being homeless and that I know I could be a superior homeless man than most of them and its not even my job. If Im better than someone at their job, and its not my job, then they really suck.

For example, I know at least thirty different places that I could sleep in the Boston area that are relatively warm and comfortable and are hidden in different nooks and crannies of different public buildings and businesses from libraries, to hotels, to bus stations, so that I would never have to spend a night in the cold. And yet I hear on the news stories about homeless people who die in the dead of winter because they freeze to death. I find it to be inexcusable because, if I can find shelter and I have a home, then they have no excuses because they have no home.

All they really need to do is stay warm and beg a little. Three dollars in change is three fast food burgers when ordering off the dollar menu. Beyond food and shelter there isnt much to it. And if that job is too hard for them, if they cant find a warm place to sleep, I understand. But then I must ask, what the fuck are you doing in New England? Please start walking south, I know it will take a long time, but shit you have nothing else to do for gods sakes. Get yourselves to Florida or at least Alabama. Whats that you say, you dont know which direction south is? Then look up to the sky and follow the migrating birds. You have no excuses. You could even hitchhike and take the weight off your legs. And if even this is too difficult for you, if youre not as smart as the birds whose brains I have to imagine are less than 1/10 the size of yours, then still I am willing to forgive you. But please do me a favor and get caught stealing some shit so you can go to jail where you will be housed and fed on the rest of societies money. But dont freeze to death;

its not an accident when youre homeless, and yet refuse to leave New England, its inevitable. While I know you dont have many choices, you should, at the very least, be able to avoid hypothermia.

And this is why Mike was such a relief. He knew what he was doing. He was creative this Mike. So creative that one day before we had a party, we put our keg outside to get cold and then left the house. Upon our return there were ten drunken homeless people in our driveway drinking beer out of empty milk cartons, because Mike somehow located a tap and tapped the keg. He was throwing a homeless person party, there were even chicks there. And so I couldnt be mad at him for stealing our beer because god-damn he was a crafty individual. But most importantly, he knew how to live without a home when every other one of his kind still had much improvement to make, and so wherever you are now Mike, whomever's basement you have chosen as your bed, I salute you. Cheers.