In Disguise

The kings of time once walked the streets in the clothes of a beggar, washed in filth, and hiding their white teeth with a red wine wash. They stumbled into the marketplace alone, an anonymous group of guards perhaps aware, perhaps nearby, perhaps watching to be sure.

To rule is to be ruled. It wasn’t so much that these vast fields of men and women pushing and shouting at each other needed to be understood that they could be brought into alignment. It was that the king, afraid for his sanity, and unable to trust the machinations of a harem of self-interested courtiers, had to take upon himself the job of a telephone survey. What is the problem here? What do you think of the king? Are taxes too high? Are the circuses better now? How is the bread?

At a low enough level of officeholder, fundraising is done on a personal level. Gubernatorial candidates will personally call donors of some money and wealth. City councilmen will probably call everyone they know, and a few they don’t, directly, asking for such tiny amounts of money. Imagine, if all those insane and pushy e-mails we get from our national politicians were actually typed one at a time, by the man himself.

That’s what it’s like to walk the streets for a day, in beggar’s clothes. It’s to sit there and be the man that talks and listens and takes the pulse of the crowds one face at a time.

These kings of the world, I do not trust them. They stand behind layers of false beggars, hands out, begging for coin of the realm one issue at a time. They don’t even pretend to be the beggar.

The strangest thing about a king is that he has more in common with beggars than most. Each lives or dies by the mercy of the community. Neither one contributes much to the welfare of the state except as a sort of figurehead for the application of blame upon a single source.

They’re building these spikes under roadways, now, to keep the beggars from finding shelter there. Vagrancy is illegal, but not everyone has a place to sleep at night, and shelters close all the time.

Were you in disguise, would your community treat you the same way they treat their kings? I know mine wouldn’t.

It’s late, I’ve been awake too long. I’ve been resting my head while I wait for reviews to appear on a new book that’s out. I’m waiting to hear back and so many things. I’m tired of waiting. We had lunch together, then we wandered apart to our distractions.

I started thinking about beggars and kings, and how they are the only folks who might truly understand each other.

Artists are mostly beggars, and like Princes and Paupers, our fortunes turn with a change of clothes and a bath and an introduction.

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