SDSU has the Campanile, empty fields surrounding it on all sides, and even a giant rectangular score board, but all of this pales incomparison to the mystique that is Hobo Days... Walk with me, we'll go rehash the tale I was once told by the great prophet smith, the tale that led to my personal discovery of the true meaning of Hobo Days... it won't take long; maybe we'll find some cake?, perhaps buttermilk danish cookies? We can't be sure, but let us walk, shall we?
Once upon a time not long ago...
“You’re too fat,” he said with a look of disappointment. His voice was the sound of jagged rocks slamming together - loud and thunderous. The air came alive when he opened his mouth, as odors and scents both scary and intoxicating emanated from his body. The Great Hobo was very picky, and was annoyed that such a sorry subject would even waste his time by coming to the weekly lineup.
The rest of us kids relished the thought that another had been excused, but the competition did not become any less fierce. The race was still on, as the Great Hobo had not decided on this week’s winner yet. We’d do our best to demonstrate the skills and talents we excelled most at, hoping to win the Great Hobo’s favor. He was a tough audience to please, as he’d seen all the simple tricks and grown tired of them. I’d later learn that the Great Hobo was looking for sincerity over show. If I’d known that now, I would have made an even worse showing. Faking sincerity is something damn near impossible, especially in the eyes of the Great Hobo.
The Great Hobo massaged the putrid hair that had grown on his chin. It was a scraggly beard, covered with dirt, the scraps from a dumpster, and divided into patches held together by tar and dried blood. Still, the Great Hobo was a man of integrity, and we all respected him much. As he rubbed his mighty whiskers, he inspected each of us. He looked us over carefully, taking note of such things as height, skin color, weight, and our demeanor. Occasionally, he'd ask one of us to turn around. After a few moments, filled with tense anticipation, the Great Hobo had made his choice.
"You," he said while pointing at me. Truly it was an amazing day, for the Great Hobo had chosen me amongst a crowd of many. I smiled and stood proud, as the Great Hobo led me behind the korean grocery store that has long since been run out of town. There behind a dumpster, he molested me...
It was the day I lost my innocence. But it was also the day the Great Hobo awakened me, and in a way, brought me into manhood. He had broken me down into scraps, and built me together new, stronger.
As I turned the corner, pulling my pants up and trying not to choke on the tears, I felt so much pride. I was nearly overtaken by the tremendous pain, but behind the scars, blood, and grime was a smile. The biggest smile I ever had. The other kids saw it, and the smile reflected onto them as a look of disappointment. They wouldn’t be disappointed for long, though. Soon the Great Hobo would have his way with them, too. It was the way of things back then. Plain and simple, and the way things ought to be now.
The Great Hobo didn't stay in town for long. He'd hit the rails as much as he used to hit his mother and sadly, as much as he hit his sweet mistress Tequila Rose. Probably so he could help kids in other towns, too. He was good that way, the Great Hobo was.
The Great Hobo taught the fat kids the hard way. They'd all start exercising or attend fat camp trying to get in shape for the day the Great Hobo would warm to them. He took note of their improvements, and it meant a lot to him that that they'd put so much effort out.
...my brother, Cassius, was one of those fat boys. The Great Hobo would make his way down the line of eager youth and cast an appraising eye at each one... until he got to Cassius. His eyes would narrow in disgust and he would thrust his huge calloused hands into the pockets of his topmost outercoat and turn away from me with a dismissive snort that invariably left a new line of clear snot on his matted facial hair. His red and rheumy eyes said it all: "You're too fat, boy, with your bowlegs and your coke-bottle glasses and your face smeared with Ring Dings. Too fat for the Great Hobo." And he would take another boy and open the world to him, while poor Cassius stood alone, weeping in shame.
It was then I saw the magic of the Hobo at work on another human being, for it was that day that Cassius set out to make himself worthy of the Great Hobo. He dieted, he exercised, he ran everywhere. He traded his glasses for contacts, wore orthopedic shoes, whatever he had to do to be THE boy, the special one chosen. And one day he was finally ready.
Together we went to the place where we all had gathered so many times before, shivering like excited ponies in the rain, waiting for a nod from the Great Hobo. We had gone to that place, but He was not there. He had died many years before, and was buried in a pauper's grave in the county cemetary.
Did we weep? Oh yes... Yes, we wept. Cassius then raged and shook his fist at the uncaring sky. I visited the Great Hobo's grave, and stood in reverence before the plain headstone that marked his passing. It was there that Cassius had went to work with a shovel, his newly acquired muscles pulsating as he removed the earth that had covered our Hobo. And, the Great Hobo at last found Cassius acceptable. Cassius too was special. We were chosen. but the Hobo is forever mine...
In the old days, the Hobo-way was known as a harsh way, and we were taught this by the savage lovings of the Great Hobo. None of us ever wanted anything to do with hobos after the Great Hobo educated us. We learned the hard way, but we learned the right way...
Thank you smith my friend, thank you.