Nov 18, 2011, 07:00AM

Homeless Chic

Advice from the experts.

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Bonjour Paris

Living in New Haven, interactions with the homeless becomes a part of your daily routine, like picking a wedgie or flirting with the obviously gay but smoking hawt barista at Starbucks. These people are known all over campus, and you find yourself making up awkwardly long and descriptive names for them like: “The Guy Who Wears a Sombrero,” “Hippie Guy Wearing Christmas Tree Lights,” “Creepy Little Lady Who Likes to Grab Your Hands,” or “Guy With a Golf Cart,” or “Yelling Man on Bike With Jukebox and Sirius Radio Subscription.” My friends and I also make up stories for them, “‘Guy With Cane and Fu Manchu’ just got back from Florida, he definitely did some serious tanning and went on a liquid diet cleanse because he looks fabulous!”

Because these people are so familiar, I never find myself scared or annoyed by them. In fact, I’m more overwhelmed by those from charitable or political organizations who wear the same colored shirts, hold clipboards, stand on both sides of the street and yell obnoxious questions that make you seem like the worst person in the world if you walk by. “Do you have three seconds to save 800 baby Orcus whales from being made into Juicy Valor sweat pants?” or “Can you make a one dollar donation to ensure that your grandchildren will learn how to read?” Seriously? How can I publicly ignore these people and walk right into H&M or Build a Bear?

Even though the homeless in my neighborhood occasionally harass me and critique my outfit, I never pretend to have a conversation with my gynecologist and ignore them. “The Guy Who Wears a Sombrero” lives on my corner, and every morning around 9:30 yells, “You look ridiculous in those boots!” Granted, I do wear cowboy boots or nasty scuffed up riding boots with every outfit including LuLu Lemon spandex yoga outfits—but ridiculous? Really? Last week the “Hippie Guy Wearing Christmas Tree Lights” told me that the bracelets I was wearing on my right arm made me look like a gypsy. Or what about the “Sassy Lady with Bedazzled Pink Blackberry” who told me that I either needed a shower or a better weave? Even the “Creepy Little Lady who Grabs Your Hands” once told me that my fur vest made me look like a dog wearing lipstick. I mean c’mon, that doesn't even make sense.

Do these people not see that they are wearing Christmas tree lights instead of socks? But still, every morning when I turn the corner where the “Man Wearing a Sombrero” sits, I smile politely at him as he yells about my boots and how stupid some little beanie or hat that I’m wearing looks. Maybe it is because he is my “neighbor” or maybe it’s just because he’s right.

I mean, if they spend all day judging people who needs Joan Rivers, Vogue, or even my 60-year-old mom to tell me what’s hawt or not? I think I listen to these homeless people because in fact, they know this year’s spring colors as well as whether safari or bell bottoms are back in. So why not take free advice on how to be homeless chic, from the experts?

  • Really liked your post. My son lives in New Haven and told us his friends describe him as "homeless chic". When I was in school I remember Mr. Not Being Clean, and Mr. Jamaica. Great article... thanks for the insight, laughs and memories.

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