Epiphany in Harvard Square

One Sunday October morning many years ago, I was walking through Harvard Square, going with the flow of cocky, bearded students, striding with the confidence of the New Enlightenment, along with the occasional professor & wife on their way, presumably, to church. The air was cold and stinging, cheeks were pink, breath rose in gray puffs from red noses and parted lips. An old derelict then staggered into the traffic from some side path and stood there among the people, who shied away to give him as much room as possible. He had several weeks of stubble, his hair was matted in dirty tufts, and he wore a gray trench coat stained with blotches of some filthy black substance. You could almost see the odor rising from him. He stood there, swaying in an alcoholic trance, staring with bloodshot eyes as he tried to comprehend people in their Sunday finest.

Suddenly his body seemed to power on; he stood up straight, looked around with a defiant glare, and with flung open his coat. And there, in a nether epiphany, hung his manhood, cunningly placed outside his fly, for Christians to admire.

“HEY, LADY!!!” he roared in a deep, coarse voice, to no lady in particular, all in
general, “YA WANNA SEE MY THIRD LEG???!!!”

Bellowing his mantra again and again, he lurched in slow, 360-degree rotations, resolutely displaying his wares while holding his coat open like a portable pulpit. The people pushed by with stern faces, pretending they saw and heard nothing, doing their best to uphold the dignity of Harvard.

I stood there, staring at this poor, rotting husk of a human being, a river of humanity parting to flow around him, and wondered what he could possibly have done to lose his faculty position.

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