While squinting at the graffiti scratched on the valve of this urinal, I decide I am overdue to consider Dustin Hoffman. Probably because the guy next to me sort of looks like Dustin Hoffman, and because I am in the Port Authority bus terminal in New York City, so Midnight Cowboy et. al.
Most recently I thought about Dustin Hoffman when I helped with my wife’s 6th grade scavenger hunt in the Central Park Rambles – supposedly to evoke survival in the wild. Central Park was the best we could manage. I suggested that better survival training would be to give all the kids a blanket and a knife and no money and teach them to panhandle. Nobody thought that was funny.
I hoped maybe we would see Dustin Hoffman because he lives near the park. But there was only a homeless guy, and the kids shared their macaroni and cheese with him. We gave him a big tub of macaroni leftovers to dole out to the other homeless people who live in the park. The kids voted our outing “the best field trip ever”, there’s that.
Maybe the homeless guy was Dustin Hoffman, disguised so that he can go out in public and nobody bother him. Like his Ratso Rizzo character in M.C., but maybe this time he doesn’t have to die on the bus from NY to Florida. Here in the Port Authority it smells like bus exhaust and like the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned since 1969, so maybe like death too.
The Port Authority is still dangerous because nobody has figured out how to make bus travel upscale and hipster and boutique and artisanal like the rest of Manhattan. Yet I think the cities and towns where these buses go are much more dangerous now. Meth and OxyContin in Des Moines, Toledo, Birmingham, on and on through the lifeblood of America. That keening sound from the wheels of the bus metastatic with loss.
Quo Vadis Dustin. Quo Vadis Ratso.
For dVerse Poetics