Monday, November 3, 2008

Hobos and Aesthetes

During the utter idiocy of my adolescence, I was fascinated by that most rugged of American creatures, the train-hoppin' hobo. I loved their wild and pithy rants against rules and responsibility; I loved their drunken form of Communism and simple secret codes; and, possibly above all, I loved the worn looks of their hats and satchels.

Often upon coming home from school, I would run to my bedroom, tussle up my uniform and hair, and smoke cigarettes whilst dreaming of riding the rails across the unimaginably gigantic country that is the United States of America. I decided I would call myself "Opium Jack" and I would have the reputation of being the most suave and nonchalant hobo in this here land. "Ain't nobody more suave than Opium Jack, ya hear?" would be the malformed interrogative spoken by all the ramblers and tramps who made my acquaintance. I imagined fucking dirty, toothless girls who had run away from home because damn it we are all so misunderstood. And it would never be awkward because we would get drunk at the first sign of guilt and the cycle would eternally repeat and we would never, ever be sad or bored.

But, as I say, back then I was an idiot. Of course the life of the hobo would not be the Romantic ideal I have in my mind. Once the money and Jack Daniel's ran out, I would often be sad and bored and possibly shitting my pants and vomiting simultaneously. My teeth would rot and I would be ugly. Flipping the bird at responsibility certainly has its drawbacks.

And yet, there is something to it. Perhaps I should not reject my teen angst outright. It is difficult to throw our lives away and ride the rails, and yes, it would be a hard and lonely life. But so is the life of an Aesthete. Indeed, upon inspection, Aesthetes and hobos aren't so terribly different. We have in common the altered states, the neglect of responsibility, the love of the unorthodox. Despite the flashy cars and lovely clothes, this dandy still has a hobo soul. So what would Fishgill Jones or Syphilitic Pete think of Nigel Tewksbury? Would they welcome him as a brother or deride him as a sissy? What form of code would they chalk upon his antique door?


Kathy said...

Hello Dear Nigel! Have you ever read the poems, "One More Train to Ride" by Hobo Liberty Justice, Catchin' Out for Freedom" by Guitar Whitey or "Forever Gone" by Harmonica Mike? Wonderful musings! As a child of the sixties I suppose that Hippies, Hillbillies and Hoboes had a lot in common with one another, except that a lot of Hippies went to University, shaved thier beards, cut their hair and became scholared Professors. A large number of them still imbibe and smoke pot however and have never lost touch with the common man. At heart I suppose they are still Hippies. Great blog!Take care.

Nigel Tewksbury said...

Thank-you Kathy. I do not know the poems but shall check them out. I worry about hobo poems, mind you, as they attempt to make the transient permanent, which is a risky business.