Literary

Laurie Notaro Has a Hobo Problem

Page 2 of 5

Apparently, the hedges that lined the back portion of our yards became something of an inconvenience to the people who decided to start using our alley as a short cut into the yoga parking lot, and they wanted the problem addressed.

If the bushes were a little overgrown and a branch had the yearning to reach out and scratch a Range Rover driven by a woman in a tank top and jeggings, I wouldn't know, but I sure would laugh if I did. The alley is not some place that we wander freely, mainly because it is not territory that belongs to us.

Once you step out of the back gate and into the hinterlands, it's like stepping into Narnia, but one that smells like urine and constantly has the clanging of glass bottles knocking together as they jostle about in a freshly stolen Safeway shopping cart, which I have since learned is the native call of the hobo.

I'd like to mention here that some people have insisted to me that "hobo" is an impolite term, and that I should use something a little more politically correct, like "residentially-challenged" or "free-range tenant." But frankly, I don't see a problem with the word hobo, nor do I understand why some people believe it to be derogatory.

I believe "hobo" to have a genteel, jaunty connotation to it; I believe it to be a jocular reference to someone might have fallen on hard times but is making the very best go of it. I would much prefer picture my hobo humming to himself, happy all the time, carrying around his stuff on a stick and taking a sip from a flask every now and then than opening my eyes to the fact that a residentially challenged squatter is shooting up methamphetamine between his toes roughly 30 feet from my back door.

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Laurie Notaro