Considering Dustin Hoffman

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

17 thoughts on “Considering Dustin Hoffman

  1. Oh man! This is great prose poeting, Q! I love how this all rambles along in a stream of consciousness (which, all things considered might not be the best choice of words, here). Great story about the kids, but I’m with you on the alternative field trip idea – laughed out loud! Excellent stuff!!

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  2. I loved your Outward Bound Manhattan concept with the kids; you should market it! I never saw MC, with the exception of the crosswalk scene (interesting that Voight went from playing Joe Buck to Mr. Sir in Holes — similar in oh so many ways). Your poem was incitefully written… lots going on that may take two or three readings to catch. Nice work!

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  3. I was 17 when MC came out. It was rated X and my mother took me to see it. She said it was the most incredible movie she had ever seen. The field trip you took your students on sounds like fun, although the Ramble? But I am glad the kids shared out their macaroni and cheese. Bus travel will never become rustic and artisanal…It seems it will always be associated with the lower classes and low income foljs, except for the luxury tours. Even the small town stations have that feel of hopelessness about them. An excellent write.

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  4. I’m a fan of this dialogue type rambling that really gets the ideas across! Sometimes I see someone on the street that looks identical to someone in my past and it always makes my stomach sink, seeing their ghost in someone else. Love this!

    Liked by 1 person

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