- Who are you named after?
No one. My mother opened a baby name book and dropped her finger on a page. My father came and went and left me in his wake, a little seed and I grew into a little plant, and she said she’d jump off a bridge before she’d name me after him. All I know is that he is a rock star. She didn’t want me doomed, she said once, to either having to live up to him or repeating his mistakes. She had this thing about fate and free will. She went to college for awhile I guess. She read me a lot of books.
- Last time you cried?
When she died. I was twelve. She jumped off a bridge.
- Do you like your handwriting?
Very much. I was praised as a child. People are more likely to help you out if you take some trouble making your sign. You can’t just scribble any old which way on some crappy piece of cardboard. You don’t want to look crazy. You have to make an effort, have a little self-respect. If I can scare up the right kind of marker and a relatively blemish-free surface, I mean, get out of my way. (Dumpsters outside movie theaters are great. If they haven’t just crumpled them up, if they’ve gone to the trouble to roll them which you’d be surprised, a lot of them do, the back of a movie poster is the perfect medium: glossy, pure white, just stiff enough to withstand some weather. And there are a couple of the librarians here, they loan me Sharpies. Sharpies only used to come in black but they’re all colors now.) Sometimes I’ll make a little picture: a puppy, a bunch of flowers. One of my foster moms, she liked to do art. And school was not for me but I did like the books and art class. My philosophy is you make it nice for people, they’ll want to make it nice for you.
- What is your favorite lunch meat?
They don’t make it anymore. Or maybe they do and I just haven’t been in a store for awhile. It was this baloney with sliced olives in it. Pimento loaf. On rye bread with cream cheese. Foster Family Four, if memory serves.
- Longest relationship?
My mom. We lived in a bus. After that I kind of went from house to house, you know, sometimes a juvenile facility. A hospital once.
- Do you still have your tonsils?
She didn’t believe in doctors. And we couldn’t pay for one anyway.
- Would you bungee jump?
Not likely. But I’ve been known to surprise myself. I kind of have enough on my plate.
- Favorite kind of cereal?
I’ve only ever had one kind. We didn’t do refined sugar or preservatives and plus the no money thing so I stole a box of Frankenberry from a Kroger’s one day when we came into town and ate it in the parking lot. I was six I think. I don’t know. I guess I’d eat Frankenberry again. I’m not sure they make it anymore, like the pimento loaf. It makes your poop a funny color.
- Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
I avoid shoes. It’s what’s nice about warm climates. That and you can sleep outside and not freeze to death. There’s a shoes rule here, but I hole up in one of the computer cubicles so I’m generally not seen. I bring all my shit in with me, you know, because you need to keep an eye, and that has likewise never been a problem. As I said, I think it’s preferable by all that there be the option not to see certain things.
- Favorite ice cream?
Ah, see, now you’re just messing with me.
- What is the first thing you notice about a person?
The way they pretend not to see me. Everyone’s different, the way they do it, like fingerprints. It’s why I make an effort with the sign.
- Football or baseball?
Baseball. Spring training down here. Nice guys. I watch through the fence.
- What color pants are you wearing?
You mean originally? Couldn’t tell you.
- Last thing you ate?
Why? You offering?
- What are you listening to?
Grunge. Any and all. Once when I nagged her my mother told me that’s what my dad played. So I think sometimes hey, maybe this song I’m listening to? Maybe that’s him. They make me use these headphones. You know: shhhh. I like YouTube. And these quizzes. No one can see you on Facebook, so no one has to on purpose not see you. Simplifies things for everybody. I have a profile and everything, I’ve made some friends, you know, I have a list. I get to answer questions as if someone really wants to know. They say this stuff about privacy, about stealing your data, but I got nothing to steal, and privacy is overrated. You only care about privacy when you’re not alone all the time.
- If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Burnt Sienna. I loved crayons as a kid, still do. That little sharpener in the box. Sometimes with a new box I’d just run my fingers over the tips and not want to use them because they were so perfect.
- What is your favorite smell?
Simmering garlic and onions.
- Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
Some lady at the shelter.
Once. Wasn’t for me.
- Hair color?
Blonde. The greenish is from chlorine. I sneak into people’s yards sometimes, you know, use the pool. One place? Really rich folks, never there. Easy to creep in through the woods, lame security system. It’s called an Infinity pool, and it just tips right off the edge of the world. That’s a favorite spot.
- Eye color?
Brown, but kind of dull and blurry, like beer bottles on the beach.
- Favorite foods to eat?
Whatever I can find. Whatever they give me.
- Scary movies or happy endings?
Depends on my mood.
- Last movie you watched?
Wizard of Oz. That’s a weird fucking movie. No one ever points that out.
- What color shirt are you wearing?
- Favorite holiday?
New Year’s. People give you drinks, you know, they’re drunk so they’re nice to you.
- Beer or Wine?
Do I have to choose? I mean, I’d prefer weed but I had to give it up awhile back. It made me too hungry.
- Night owl or morning person?
Both. I can’t afford to be choosy.
- Favorite day of the week?
I stopped keeping track awhile ago. You’d be surprised how quickly it stops mattering. I hate Sundays though and I always know when they are because they are when the library’s closed. The library’s quiet. You can’t believe how noisy the world is when you’re outside all the time.
- Favorite season?
No seasons here. I miss the fall sometimes, the trees like they’re on fire, frost in the grass. It got cold in the bus, but my mom was always there and we’d bundle up, and I don’t know how she did it, but she was always warm.
©Melinda Rooney, 2017