Questions For The Hobo King

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I’m a learned man, capable of reading many books at one time, and as such, I found myself reading the magazine Mental Floss on a plane ride to a bachelor party where I hoped to see and feel the most titties. The magazine caught my eye in the airport gift shop, partly because the title references two of my favorite pastimes (being real smart and dental hygiene), and also because the cover had bright colors that I wanted to touch. Hoping the inside of the magazine would deliver more colors and shapes, I opened it to find perhaps the greatest title for what I can only hope is a monthly feature: “One Question for a Hobo.” Jesus Risen Christ. I almost couldn’t read it through the tears in my eyes.

Apparently, there’s a town in Iowa (which I was shocked to find is a State and not an unexplored territory full of corn and Injuns) called Britt that holds a Hobo “Convention” every year and it’s then they name the “Hobo King.” Two thoughts accompanied me as I wrote that last sentence: 1. I knew a girl in college named Britt, and I think she, too, hosted an annual hobo convention…in her vagina, and 2. Fuck yes.

Anyway, they were able to get to the current Hobo King even as he was surrounded by what I imagine were cheering throngs and dog carcasses, and interview him — a glass-eyed old-timer by the name of “Minnesota” Jim. As the title of the article was called “One Question for a Hobo,” and not “Teach Me Everything, Hobo,” I finished the article with my proverbial dick still in my hand (which happened to mirror how my literal dick was in my hand). I could only sit, teased and jaw agape at the answer he gave to the only question the magazine could muster before someone would kill them for his boots: “How did you become Hobo King?” A fine question, but I’m unfulfilled. I need more. I would find him myself, but he’s out riding the rails, a man of the earth — a man at once unknowable, yet known. So, I’m left with the few words he gave and the outlet of a website he’ll probably never read in between porn clips at the library. But still, I must try — and if someday, Minnesota Jim, you paw at an old glowing devil-screen left by someone you just murdered and you land on this site, I can only hope you skip past the Becca Martie columns (you horny devil!) and find the J-Train. I’ll be here, waiting, checking my Twitter, mail, and hell. I might even read the comments (JK, I always read the comments and you people are monsters) hoping you’ll answer the following questions that will burn in me like a disease that makes you feel like you’re always burning inside:

In your answer, you describe yourself as “bashful.” Is that because you learned that if you look another hobo in the eye in a railcar, you’ll then have to claw that eye out? Or do you mean you are literally full of the desire to bash skulls if they won’t give you their tin cans?

As “Hobo King,” is there a “Hobo Queen?” Have you sired a Hobo Prince? Or is there too much Hobo Muff to really settle down? On dates, do you split the hooch? Or does she bring her own because you’re a progressive dude?

You mention you were named King by an electorate made up of former Hobo Kings who question you about your past. Is the correct answer to any question about your past, “Only truth is in da sound of dem freight trains a-headin’ westerly”? Or do you say, “A man can’t be knowed by the trains he hopp’d or the dogs he’s done made lovin’ to.”?

When you kill, do you kill for sport or necessity? Do you even know anymore?

In the interview, you mention that you can do a sort of campaigning; you get one minute to “speak your peace.” Does that mean you get one minute to bite out as many dog tracheas as you can? Or one minute to build a newspaper bed? Or perhaps you get one minute to boil a shoe. I’d bet it’s up to you. You probably did all of these things, because you are King. And when you spit hot dog blood onto the cheering crowd, does the erection poking through your oversized overalls touch heaven?

When you sleep, do you dream? Or has it all already come true?

Write me back, Hobo King. Until then, I’ll listen for your whisper on the eastern wind.


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Jared Freid (@jtrain56) is a New York City-based comedian who has been featured on MTV’s Failosophy and is the host of The JTrain Podcast presented by TFM.

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