While I was speaking to the young, cheery man who offered me food was: my teeth. Or rather lack of them. One crooked snaggletooth clearly visible on top. I sort of lowered my head, looking to side. I look in the mirror, practicing, wondering how to hide my mouth when conversing with other people. I made a mental note to wash my backpack. It is not something I think to do.
Conscious now, due to comments on articles about Long Beach's new ban on plastic bags. "They don't even wash them; I would not touch them", said of totes. I never think about washing those either, 'tho some store clerks seem concerned about putting cooked chicken in them without adding the plastic bag. They mumble something about contaminating the bag. I do think to wash smaller totes, after I spill coffee in them or notice they look dirty. Used basically to tote library books.
Do I still look homeless, I wonder, with a not so clean backpack, raggedy clothes and snaggletooth mouth.
Moments before the young man approached me, I had another conversation at Bixby Park. I had taken a photo of a lost pet sign, sat on curb, to get cell out of back pack, a pen, scrape of paper to record details. I was carrying those things, bent and picked up three champagne bottle corks to donate to the reuse shop downtown. As I approached a bench I went to lay back pack there, so I could stow the stuff.
A man who was standing a bit away from the bench, had a shopping bag on the bench. Um, I thought, should I go around the other side to place my bag? The guy, age 72, came quickly to the side of the bench where I stood. Said I should go running. Nah, too hot for me. I mention seeing two men running on the beach. Young guys dressed all in black. T-shirts, long pants.
I am conscious or is that self-conscious about this normal guy speaking to snaggletooth me. How do I know he is 72? Obvious, because he told me so. Mentioned me being a young chick compared to him. The brief conversation turned quickly to god punishing humans via the crazy weather patterns. Quickly forget what he called it: Good Orderly D...?
I did not mention the twenty dollar bill folded, held in place by eye glasses, over the bridge of his nose. My very first thought when he spoke to me: thinks I am a prostitute, or propositioning me without words. In other days, I would likely have mentioned his unusual sun shield. I was much more chatty to strangers pre-homeless, pre-snaggletooth days. Miss being that way, carefree, sociable.