Spitting Outside the Heart of American Compassion Zone



April 05, 2004

As I was waiting for a bus in front of Time Equities’ City Center Square on Main Street, I noticed a low-browed man spitting all over the place at regular ten-second intervals.”Just look at that man,” said an elderly woman standing next to me. “Why, I’ll be, what is the world coming to.”

“I think it’s a cultural thing, or maybe he chews tobacco or is one of those oversalivators,” I replied, mentally noting that the latest glob of spittle was relatively clear in color.

“He’s spitting everywhere, over the curb, on the sidewalk, here comes a bus – he’ll spit on that. It’s awful. He has no manners.”

“He needs a spittoon,” I suggested. By that time the man seemed to know he was the subject of our conversation: he looked at us, his brow jutting out over his eyes in a Neanderthalian frown, then moved a few feet away to sit on the bench, spitting all the while.

“It’s vulgar. Things are getting worse and worse. What will they come to?” she asked.

“The apocalypse, of course. This reminds me of what Diogenes did.”

“Who is he? A spitter?”

“The Cynic. Yes.”

“Where did he spit?”

“In a rich man’s face.”

“I’ll be! Whatever for?”

“That’s what the man asked. A nobleman invited Diogenes into his home and took him on a tour, showing him the fine furnishings, the nicely tiled floors, the clean walls, and so on. Then Diogenes spit in his face. ‘Why did you spit in my face?’ the nobleman asked. ‘Because there was nowhere else to spit,’ replied Diogenes.”

“Why, I’ll be!” said the lady and boarded the Country Club bus.