“Ain’t Got No Money, Ain’t Got No Honey.”

Down in the subway station at 74th and Broadway in Jackson Heights, where you can get the E, V, F, G, R and 7, there’s a terribly depressing man who pops up from time to time. He wanders up and down the platform trying to sell a piece of jewelry to commuters. It’s a “gold” necklace with one of those charms on it, usually a woman’s name in scripty lettering, or something like “love” or “precious.” I never get close enough to read the thing.

The guy is old and evidently in poor health. Missing teeth. Crackling skin. If he were a fishmonger or a butcher, in my simple, little world, he might be considered haggared in a charming, story-book way, if not for one thing. His right lower eyelid sags drastically, looking like it’s turned inside-out to reveal pink, moist, swollen flesh that surrounds and obscures the eye itself and leaks fluid down his cheek. It looks like an infection that’s been split open and spread wider. I find it horrifying.

He dangles his trinket out in front of himself, stopping people as they descend the stairs or walk past on their way to the platform edge.

“Ain’t got on money, ain’t got no honey,” he calls out.

Not quite “Feed the birds. Tuppence a bag.” But I guess you gotta have a gimmick.

Apparently he’s appealing to the more shallow part of ourselves that is willing to believe that a flash piece of jewelry will be enough to win the affection (or at least the attention) of our dearest.

People do their best to ignore or avoid him. And, to his credit, he doesn’t press the sale.

I can’t imagine anyone buying this thing from him. It’s tacky. And he’s scary. Assuming he has held onto his sanity through his difficult years, I don’t imagine he expects anyone to buy it. It might just be a pretense for getting some spare change. Or maybe he’s just crazy, after all. I want to give him some Visine and an eye patch. I wonder if he’d get more attention that way.


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the untallied hours

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