Due to space constraints, we had to withhold the following text from the “Bums” article in our first issue. “Bumball” was reduced to two small pics, and the “Bum Family Tree” was deleted altogether. We’ve combined them here for your continued amusement.
Being something of an armchair social anthropologist, I decided to make my own critical evaluation of the Bum Family Tree. There’s a whole bunch of different types of bums out there. Some are scary. Some are funny. Some are even charming in their own living-out-of-a-cardboard-box sorta way. Here’s a short list of my favorites:
Smelly but Seemingly Sane Bum.
This one’s a dying breed folks. Very Grapes of Wrath. He’s the proverbial working man who fell on hard times. Probably lost his pension and every dime he ever earned when his Enron stocks bottomed out. Now he’s eating trash while the white-haired white man who stole his life’s savings sits in his shitty, tasteless McMansion eating flan.
Tenuously Sane with Bleeding Ulcers Bum.
May or may not be wearing plastic bags for shoes. Not necessarily a go-getter as bums go, as he’s usually eating his own feces when he could be out begging.
He’s usually high on just about everything. This is the bum who sees conspiracies everywhere. He’ll look you dead in the eye and tell you that the UFOs are in cahoots with General George Patton to force our public schools to show Mexican sitcoms during math class.
Type “A” Bum.
I just don’t get why this guy is a bum. He’s bright-eyed, quick with a joke, and always willing to lend a hand with your bag as you get out of your cab. He tells you he’s just fallen on hard times, and he needs a couple of bucks to tide him over until things turn around. You could almost believe him, too, if he wasn’t jerking off the entire time he was talking to you!
F*cking Nuts Bum.
Scariest of all. This is the guy you see naked on the subway during rush hour. You can always tell what car he’s on . . . it’s the only one completely devoid of commuters. This bum is angry, violent, socially and mentally maladapted, with a seemingly endless stream of toxic diarrhea spewing from his mouth and asshole.
Okay, I just made that one up. They don’t exist. No such thing as a flamboyantly gay bum, either. I find this one way off base, because if I was on the street, starving and cold, I’d suck a dick in a second if you offered me a cup a’ joe and a sandwich. Hell, lemme sleep in your Hummer and I’d play with your balls, too!
Sometimes you hear about a Rich Bum. One of these guys who has a million dollars squirreled away in plastic garbage bags. I figure he’s hiding from Anna Nicole Smith.
Bums often try to maintain some semblance of dignity by pretending to serve a purpose. This behavior manifests in a number of ways. A common example is the Debris Maitre d' Bum. Mindless, smelly, drugged-out moochers will guard city trashcans and attempt to take your hard-earned rubbish. They will place it into the receptacle for you and, having performed a useful service, will expect to be paid. While many people find these indigents to be intimidating, they can provide a source of endless hilarity if properly engaged.
One little game I like to play with these worthless knee-walkers is called Bumball. The bums are trying to keep you, a real person, from disposing of your scraps. You, however, must dispose of your scraps by yourself. What was once a chore is now a fierce match of urban one-on-one. There are no rules. There are no fouls. There's only you and a whiskey-breathed ding-swizzler trying to shake you down for an infusion of liquor-collateral. There is nothing sweeter than wadding up a McDonald's bag with an uneaten cheeseburger still inside, rushing a bum, landing on your elbow, and taking it to the hoop. Sometimes, I even do a victory dance around the out-finessed troll and scream "two points" at the top of my lungs.
For me, the key to really enjoying a game of Bumball is the perfectly-good-food-being-thrown-away-in-front-of-your-face angle. Usually, when some pathetic dope hands their garbage to a bum, the old fart (even young bums look old) will rummage through it to see if there is anything "desirable" within. If you really want some serious competition and would like to see some hobo-hustle during a game of Bumball, you must make him believe that there is something of value in your refuse. And, while most humans don't know what a walking garbage pile would find useful in their smaller throwaway garbage (aside from greasy blankets and dead pigeons) it generally involves food or drink. McDonald’s bags, Styrofoam containers, and bottles make excellent "balls" for your match.
My best games of Bumball involve quart-sized Gatorade bottles. When I travel I drink lots of lemon-lime Gatorade. To avoid unnecessary pit stops, I fill the bottles back up while trying not to swerve. The resulting product looks amazingly like the original. These bottles may fester in my car for months. I will often carry a bottle along with my lunch into one of Washington's many fine parks. Sitting on a bench, I take note of which bums are observing my behavior. I will eat my food, crumple the sandwich foil and cookie bags, and place them along with the full piss bottle into the bag.
At this point, I have usually earned the attention of at least two trash guardians. It’s just a matter of picking one and taking it to the hoop. Reeling from the thrill of dominating some worthless dreg on the Bumball court, I watch as the vanquished bum rummages through the rubbish for his prize, finds it, rips off the lid, and takes a big swig of my liquid waste. That, my gentle readers, is art.
There are plenty of ways to exploit the worthless among us. Bumball is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to enjoying one of this nation's greatest comedic resources: the mindless mendicant. Be sure to check out my column in Moist next month when I examine the current hilarity happening in Arizona as scores of illegal Mexicans cross the border looking for a better life only to die of thirst in America's beautiful southwestern deserts.