It’s hard to know when you’ve really hooked a girl. Is it when she first laughs at one of your jokes? Or after that first kiss goodnight? Or, maybe, is it the first time you have this timeless romantic exchange…
Me: So, would you rather date me, or a homeless person?
Her (long pause): At this point, I’m really not sure.
That’s when you know you’re in love. How do you get there? Read on…
I had been on three dates with Rosie, and for the fourth I wanted to spice things up a little. We’d done drinks, dinner, and she’d come over to my place to watch a movie. The best thing about inviting a girl to your place to watch a DVD is that you might as well ask, “wanna come over and make out?” You never actually watch the DVD when you ask someone to come over and watch a DVD. What, I’m going to sit on a couch in private next to someone who’s interested in me and has breasts and just stare at a TV screen? I don’t think so. We should just change the phrase “wanna match a DVD?” to “wanna go to at least second base?” But I digress…
So, in an effort to show Rosie that I’m not a complete horndog, I invited her to a nice, respectable afternoon at a movie theater. With the old folks, and the kids, and the matinée prices (I gotta get something out of the deal, right?). Not only that, but I tell her to pick whatever movie she’d liked. What a wonderfully sweet and considerate idea, right? Right. And then she picked My Sister’s Keeper.
My Sister’s Keeper is for all the people who’ve loved Cameron Diaz’s fine comedic work, but were wondering how she’d do in something more serious, like, say, playing the mother of a girl dying of Leukemia. The answer to that riddle, incidentally, is terribly. She does terribly as the mother of a child who’s dying of Leukemia. So bad, in fact, that at a certain point, people in my theater started rooting for the Leukemia. “Come on, take her already! Don’t make her sit through another Cameron monologue – she’s just a child!” I didn’t expect Rosie to pick such a, well, bad movie for our date, but I offered, so it serves me right. And looking back on it, My Sister’s Keeper was easily the highlight of the afternoon.
After finishing the film, Rosie and I decided to get a drink, in the hopes of forgetting what we’d just been through. On the way to the bar we walked by a homeless man who asked for change. She stopped and gave him what looked like a handful of quarters, I gave him…nothing. Rosie waited, as if the message sent from my brain to my hands telling them to take out dollars and hand them over just hadn’t arrived yet. Finally…
Rosie: Do you not give money to homeless people?
…which is an awkward enough conversation without having to do it immediately in front of an actual homeless person. So I tried to keep walking a little bit ahead, out of the Artful Dodger’s earshot, but Rosie wasn’t having it. Turns out the sort of person who wants to see a movie about kids dying of Leukemia is also the sort of person who will interrogate the ever-loving shit out of anyone who doesn’t hand over their wallet to the first dirty individual they find lying in the street. Who woulda thought?
Rosie (getting louder): Come on, you can spare a little something…
Me (getting quieter): I give to charity, I just don’t believe in giving to people on the street.
Rosie: Right, sure you do. Give him some money!
When you’re on the precipice of an argument outside, your natural instinct is to go inside. “Come on, people are looking at us out here, let’s go inside.” And, when you’re on the precipice of argument inside, you feel like you’ve just got to get outdoors. “Come on, everyone can hear us in here, can we just go outside?!” I desperately wanted to get Rosie in the bar, while she wanted to harass me in the street. I won, but that would be the only time that day. It’s alright, I’m used to it…
Rosie: It doesn’t bother you that he’s hungry and you could help him get food?
Me: No, it bothers me that he’s thirsty and I could be helping him get booze. I heard an interview on This American Life saying that there’s countless soup kitchens in New York-
Rosie: Oh, so NPR says it’s fine to ignore the homeless, so that’s what you do?
Me: No. (Thinking: Yes.)
(And, yes, I recognize it’s an annoying liberal douchebag thing to do to say you heard something on public radio that allows you to be selfish and piggy, but, well, I really did hear it.)
Now everyone in the snooty little bistro that, I might add, makes a rather ironic choice for my bleeding heart date, was staring at us. At that point, I would’ve killed for another hour of My Sister’s Keeper. Give Cameron another daughter and this time let her have palsy! She continued…
Rosie: Look, it’s just…I feel really strongly about homeless people. They need our help, and so many people won’t help them just because they assume they’re drunks. But they’re not always…
And that was, to be frank, when I kinda zoned out. I mean, this was just weird. Rosie was a cool girl and all, and I’m genuinely as guilt-ridden as the next liberal, but our first fight being about homeless people was a little too much. She kept going on and on, and I kept not listening, so as it became clear that she was going to stop talking any moment, I had to come up with an answer. I had the chance to be sensitive and supportive and apologize for my actions and my “misunderstanding”, or I could be snarky and obnoxious. I think you remember how this one turns out…
Me: So, would you rather date me, or a homeless person?
Rosie (long pause): At this point, I’m really not sure.
That night there would be no watching of DVDs.
I don’t give directly to the homeless. Most of the time, they are just on the street begging. If I give directly to the homeless, it’s to the sort of unionized homeless in my city – these people get together and volunteer in a sort of media outlet and sell their publication. It’s not much, but at least you know they are trying to work for their money. One would be surprised to discover how many homeless are out there that are homeless by choice.
I think she was wrong to berate you about not handing out money to this guy on the street. Sure, not every homeless person will automatically use the money for booze, but not every one will use it for food and shelter, either. The problem is, you can’t know what they will use it for, so the logical decision is – if you’re going to give to the homeless, give to charities that support the homeless with food, water, shelter and other care. This way you know you are providing something positive for them, something in your control, rather than something in their control. Or, instead of cash, try giving them food or water directly: you may find they are unnappreciative or reject your offer completely because that’s not what they are after.
In all actuality, you already provide a considerable amount for the homeless through taxes. Apart from soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless, they also qualify for food stamps and cash assistance from the government, and all they need to do is apply at the nearest welfare office – they don’t need a permanent residence. When I see a homeless person begging for money on the street, I see someone who is either eligible for assistance but chooses to beg because it provides them with direct cash, or someone who is actually recieving assistance and supplements that with begging. If the city only provides them with food stamps and not cash assistance, they will often beg because you can’t use food stamps for alcohol, and you certainly can’t use it for drugs.
So more often than not, homeless people will beg on the street and use that money to buy drugs and alcohol, because they can’t get those things with government assistance. Either way, your money is best spent directly to the source of homeless assistance, like soup kitchens and shelters. Often, the worst thing you can do for them is directly give them cash.
Not too long ago, I was donating items to a food bank. A guy came up to the car stating he was starving, and could I spare some change. I said, I have no change, but I have some ready-to-eat foods and such that I would be happy to give him, including bottled water. He gave me a dirty look and stormed off.
I especially like when at a gas station, being approached by the Meth-looking folks that claim they are on their way to a job interview and ran out of gas, do I have a few dollars? Tell them you have a gas can, where is their car and you will put a few gallons into their car for them.
That one is always good for some laughs.
Politics aside, this woman cared more about the issue of impromptu charitable giving than having a great time on a date. Sounds like a bullet was dodged in the nick of time.
Wow, this woman was a little over the top about this subject. As a single woman struggling to find a man who believes in having actual dates, I think this woman should have let it go at the street. She could over-analyze the whole situation in her head while not embarrassing herself and you in public. The fact that she was oblivious to your being zoned out makes me think she either wasn’t that interested in you (sorry) or her social skills are severely lacking. A agree with the above comment: Bullet Dodged!
Having traveled through poor countries around the world, I’ve become sensitive to the types of street people who really need some flash-aid… Such as the harsh realities of no legs, other freaky disfigurements, bawling starving babies (even if there’s a huge market of people renting out their kids for this corner-work – still hard to say no). Here, in the U.S where many of the homeless suffer from a grossly inflated sense of self-entitlement, I’d rather hand out either a tea bag, fruit roll-up, mini wet-wipes pack or card of said local soup kitchen. They may begrudge your bit of generosity but c’mon if they’re lucky enough to have two legs they’re better off than many other homeless persons in the rest of the world. I’ll mayyyybe give money here though if its a fam in trouble, vet on wheels and mos definitely for street performers.
That story is just nuts – sorry. Hoping you find the ‘not-f’n-crazy’ love of your life sooner than …
Ditto to Rose’s comment about handing out fruit rolls ups or other basic foods, and agreed with all the folks who say bullet dodged. Whether a date gives change to a homeless person is not a good measure of one’s character, although it could start an interesting discussion of one’s viewpoint on homelessness (and apparently did). Personally, I don’t ever give money, but I do keep a granola bar or packaged crackers in my car to give out to homeless folks when they are at a street corner. In a pinch, just say you do that, and you’ll be covered. ;-)
I like your blog, but this blog entry is a duplicate of something you posted a long time If you’re running out of new material, then why not just label this as a re-post?
Dunno, didn’t think of it. Lots of new readers lately, so refreshing some of my old favorites. Lots of work lately with the book, but more new posts coming soon!
Love it. Still bummed you don’t still live in Brooklyn so we could mutually blog about our dates. Good luck with your book. It’s an ebook right? Amazon? Congrats!
I’m gonna put five bucks on Rosie having spent exactly zero hours volunteering at a food bank or homeless shelter. I will also bet she’s wearing a button or ribbon–or has a bumper sticker or magnet on her car–showing how much she CARES about the plight of the homeless.
haha! This had me dying! I lived in South Africa for a few years and there were always tons of people begging for money- which I refused to give because I knew they would just spend it on booze. So instead, I would walk in to the local bakery and buy them a loaf of cheap bread. Most of the time they would wave it away saying “Nevermind”.
They would prove my point perfectly. Next time buy him a loaf of bread and see how they react. You’ll look like a hero to your date, and expose those “less-than-needy” homeless.
YOU’RE VS. YOUR…. FIGURE IT OUT
I have it figured out, I assure you.
I write thousands of words a week for an amount of money so small it would break your heart. Unfortunately, that means there will be errors. It’s the nature of blogging and the internet. I get why it’s annoying, and I genuinely apologize, but alas it is unlikely to change.
Thanks for reading, either way!
Doesn’t good grammar also include not EVERY typing things in all caps, as in DOUCHEBAG?
Are you sure the guy in the first picture isn’t just a hipster coming off a bender? He has the right haircut…
BOO, you’re an ass. Get real and give a hungry dude a dollar, for god’s sake. You can’t live on liquor, and nearly 1 in 5 in this country are homeless.
I would have politely took her home and never called her again. She was way too dramatic and annoying, yes she feel strongly about it but there are tons of reasons not to give money directly to the homeless and I totally see your point more.
Love it, one liberal eating another one alive!
The writer has much more patience that I would have had in that situation. As soon as it escalated into an outside argument, I would have smiled and just strolled…away. As in, kept on walking, and acting like I didn’t even know the person.
Or, if I was in a really pissy mood, I might just snark the old “Hey, it only took me a few minutes to find out why YOU are not married!”
I’ve actually been homeless. Yeah, it was “only” for a week, in below-freezing weather with snow on the ground, and I was running/hiding from a horribly-abusive insignificant other. Did I ever ask for money? No. I was too busy freezing my butt off with my shelter buddies (the shelter was a nighttime-only thing), ducking into any store we could find for 5 minutes of warmth that we might not get kicked out of, sitting in Social Security trying to apply for benefits (I was most definitely permanently disabled which is one reason I was stuck with evil-ex for so long), and sitting at McDonald’s because it’s amazing how long they’ll ignore you if one member of your group buys a food item.
Good people do not ask for money on the street like that, they are trying their best to go it on their own. Crappy people beg. Honest people put up a sign that says “I want a big screen TV, give me money” (I heard someone actually did this) or “I stay in a nice hotel all night and eat every meal at a restaurant on your money, so fork it over or feel horribly guilty” (you will never see this one but it’s the truth).