Friday, February 29, 2008

Natural History

Walking a long way to and from work gives me a lot of opportunity to observe the surrounding life forms. Not so much on the flora front - 'round these parts flora comes in two varieties: defeated ornamental (you know, the kind that has been beaten into submission until it will survive being planted in a super-store parking lot) or native (which means prickly, hostile, and only green in relation to the dusty-brown that surrounds it on all sides). Fauna however we get in infinite variety, and much time can be happily passed attempting to categorize it.

The game can be simplified as Panhandler, Professor, or Student? The recent boom in hands-free devices has made this a little more difficult as it's not always easy to tell if someone is talking to themselves or to the little electronic parasite in their ear, but the premise is simple enough. Using only clothing and accessories attempt to classify the following into the appropriate slot. I've started you off with some easy ones (answers at the bottom if you want to cheat) and then thrown a poser onto the end that I saw just yesterday and has me baffled.

A. Middle aged man, suit, cap, briefcase.

B. Older male, wild hair, frayed jeans, brown loafers with cracks in the toes.

C. Young woman, pink bicycle, flannel pajamas with penguins on.

D. Male, indeterminate age, green felt fez with yellow tassel, bright red guitar strung over back, leather coat.


A. Panhandler. Specializes in varied religions: "Jesus loves you ma'am, he loves you, any spare change?" (heard last week); "something good is going to happen to you today sir, something good. Your karma is really good now, it's good." (heard this week)

B. Professor - humanities of some sort, not sure which branch. I know, that one was easy.

C. Trick question! It's either a pseudo-student or a proto-professor. It's a Teaching Assistant and should therefore be treated with great kindness poor little rabbit.

D. I honestly have no idea. The guitar could mean student (angst-ridden and hoping that being a sensitive musician will help him pick up girls) or pan-handler (of the "pay me for my endless repetition of the one song I can remember with the three chords I know how to play," or the "put enough change in my case and I'll stop singing" variety). He didn't have a case to collect money, but that could be what the fez was for. If he were wearing a bicycle clip around his leg I would have opted for professor but honestly this one has escaped me.

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