Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Big Issue With the Flower

Tonight, I fell asleep while watching "A Town Called Eureka." That's not a reflection on the show, but on the fact that I was up till three in the morning and didn't have my afternoon nap. The sound of M1's key in the front door lock woke me up. As the door opened, in walked M1 and the Exotic Flower. Instantly, I snapped awake. It wouldn't do for the un-dynamic duo to catch me asleep in front of the TV. M1 would use that as an excuse to try to get the channel changed. It was the first time I have seen the Flower in almost a week. I watched a lot of music videos, yesterday, and had several I wanted to discuss with the five feet, two inch, brown skinned beauty.
I offered the Flower a piece of cake, as she has demonstrated a sweet tooth on previous visits. I get the cake free, from work, so it's easy for me to be generous. She declined, citing a recently consumed Indian meal as the reason. I changed the channel to +1, so I could catch the end of the episode I had fallen asleep on. We chatted during advertising breaks, while M1 sat on the opposite side of her from me, doing his best imitation of a vegetable. After "A Town Called Eureka" finished on +1, I changed to "Skins" on E4 +1, in response to a request from the Flower. She and that guy...what's his name? Oh yeah, M1. She and M1 like watching it, and I like it, too. During this particular episode of "Skins," the main character, Tony, is talking to a guy he knows who sells "The Big Issue." "The Big Issue" is this newspaper that homeless people sell as an alternative to begging. I am sure there used to be a similar idea in New York City, called "Street News." I like "Street News" as a title, better than, "The Big Issue," as it sounds less pretentious. I wonder if they still sell "Street News" in New York? Do they still have homeless people in New York, or did Giuliani have them all killed? I asked the Flower, "Do you ever buy 'The Big Issue?' "
She shook her head, with a bemused look on her face, as if the idea were completely preposterous, and added, "no," just to make sure I didn't get the wrong idea.
"Why the fuck would anyone want to buy 'The Big Issue,' " I asked, "when you can get a "Metro" for free?" The Flower laughed in response. It was a contagious laughter and we both ended up laughing. It was nice to share such a genuine moment of laughter with her.
I pondered one of life's eternal questions. Which is more annoying, someone begging, or someone touting "the Big Issue?" The British can be a soft touch when it comes to people who appear to be "needy." It's almost like they share a collective guilt for the former glories of the British Empire. One surefire way to atone for it is to buy a useless newspaper from someone who looks down on his luck. I fondly remembered another phenomenon from the days when I used to commute into Manhattan, back in America. That was the South Americans I used to see in the subway stations, quietly selling chewing gum and mints. When there was a strike of newspaper delivery truck drivers, they even sold the newspaper. Not some made up newspaper that no one would want to read, but a major daily that was affected by the strike. I liked these South Americans for a couple of reasons. First they were quiet. That's probably because they didn't speak English well, yet, but it made them so unobtrusive. They just stood there, displaying their wares. If you wanted some, you bought. There was no touting. The second thing was that they provided a useful service. They didn't approach the whole undertaking like a charity case, but like budding entrepreneurs. I wonder if they are still there, or did Giuliani have them killed off, as well? Perhaps they were erased from the New York Subway System in wake of 9/11, another casualty of the new security consciousness as western nations march ever onward on the road to a totalitarian police state.



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