Shallow Dance

by Matty Sullivan

When you're done looking around the website, please visit my Patreon page to learn how you can lend a little support to my work. It's easy and it's inexpensive. In fact, you can help keep the motor running for no more than a few measly bucks--kinda like buying me a drink at the bar. Which, by the way, is my favorite way of saying thanks.

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Sorry, Jesus!

“Charity sees the need, not the cause.”

--German Proverb


I don’t feel like saying much about this. I just spent the last twenty minutes trying to provide comments on the subjects of homelessness and generosity and humanity and all the bullshit that comes from combining these things.

It was all stupid, so I deleted it. Sorry.

Here’s the only comment I’ll make on the matter. Most people wish to be generous, yet most of us resist because we’re afraid of what else will be asked of us. Saying ‘yes’ to the question “Can you help me?” results in the question “Can you help me some more?” Who knows where it will end? Sooner or later, we have to say ‘no’—and sooner is easier than later.

I’ve been homeless before. It’s not that bad. It’s still just life—some of it harder than normal life, some of it easier. Most of the time, I was happy. Many people were very kind me. One time, I was sleeping on a bench in front of the grocery store and a lady woke me up to give me ten dollars. I told her I didn’t really need it, but she insisted. It seemed to make her feel better to give it to me, as if I were doing her a favor. So I took it. “You look like you have no place to go,” she said. That made me laugh. The truth was, I had any number of places to go. I just had no place to stay.

Another time, I was sitting on the seawall, watching the sunrise. A lady came up to me with a cereal box in her hand. She introduced herself and asked me if I was hungry. “Sure,” I said. She reached into the cereal box and pulled out a plate wrapped in tin foil. She gave it to me, explaining that it wasn’t much, just some leftovers from the night before. I told her I was very happy to have it and thank you very much.

“Well,” she said, “I believe that what you give is what you get back.” Then she threw the empty cereal box off the seawall and onto the sand. After that, she turned and headed back to her car, taking care to avoid the trash can which was only five feet away.

That really happened. I was shocked. I ate the leftovers, but first I had to retrieve the empty cereal box and throw it away properly. Crazy lady—so generous and kind, so careless. The food was very good, though. Pork chops and mashed potatoes. Green beans, which I didn’t eat.

But there is a shadow side to this story, and it goes like this: once I got food poisoning from eating donuts out of a dumpster. It was real bad. Terrible diarrhea. I spent half the night shitting behind a row of hedges in front of the Methodist church on 23rd Street. Sorry, Jesus!

But in the morning, I felt fine. Praise God.