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It does not happen every day that a tramp pulls you by the arm, in the street, and engages you in dialogue – or, rather, draws you into a monologue. This scruffy old tramp – you know the type: unwashed, unshaven, uninterested in and incapable of any kind of physical appearance – pulled me by the arm as I walked by the spot where he was standing with a bundle of clothes and shopping bags. Not every tramp possesses a smile that is powerful enough to override the frightful experience that their disheveled and, by all measures, uncivilized appearance immediately produces. This man’s smile, his laugh, was so innocent and disarming that I, in a split moment, decided to allow his attempt to hold me by the arm and to hear him out. I offered him my attention and shared the warmth of my body with him on this wintry afternoon. “You are beautiful,” he said to me. “You are beautiful, you must have had an easy life, my friend. You are still young, of course, quite young – much younger than I am, my friend, but you must have had an easy life, eh?” Embarrassed by the obvious fact – the only answer – that my life had indeed been easy and comfortable, by most standards but especially by his, I stuttered a little. “I suppose so…” I began to say, but he quickly interrupted me. “I am by no means beautiful, my friend, eh just look at me, look at me closely, carefully.” I tried hard not to look, and was trying to find a way to respond when the man started speaking again and it became clear that he was not particularly interested in any of my responses. “I am ugly, my friend, I am what you would call ugly. I feel it when people walk by, on the sidewalks, and look at me, I know what they are thinking, I know that they think I look bad, not just as a person, but that I look bad in the street, in the neighborhood, in the city – I spoil their view. That’s just it, my friend, I spoil their view with my ugliness.” Compelled by compassion, more so than truth, to disagree, I began to mumble that it really was not so, that maybe some but not all… But he interrupted me again. “And I agree with them, of course, I do spoil the view, I know this, with my appearance – with my ugliness I spoil the view, I certainly do. But you know what, you know what, my friend?” He paused for a moment, not so much to wait for a reply as to collect his thoughts and to formulate them correctly. “You know what it is, you know what it is? They are beautiful now, my friend, they are beautiful right now, all of them, as it is, as things are right now they are beautiful. But, and this is what I know, I certainly do, my friend, this is what I know and this is why I laugh at them – oh how I laugh at them! – I know that they are beautiful right now, but they are already losing it, they are losing their beauty, my friend, they have already lost it, they are aging – how fast they are aging! – they are getting older and older, their looks are fading, dimming – they are starting to look like me! – they are fading, my friend, and in thirty, forty, seventy years, my friend – soon, very soon! – they will have aged and died, my friend, they will be dead and buried, as they say, and then – dead and buried! – all these beautiful people, they will be dead, they will no longer exist, they will no longer be beautiful.  And I, I, my friend, will be dead as well, of course, maybe not buried – who will bury me, eh? – but dead nonetheless. But, and this is crucial, my friend, this is the main thing, I tell you, I will be dead and it will be as things are, nothing is lost, an ugly tramp gone, stamped out of existence, dead – who will miss me, eh? – but these beautiful people, all these beautiful people, aged, crumbled, dried up, dead, gone, buried, beauty in a box – what is beauty in a box, eh? – these beautiful dead people, these dead beautiful people, there is your tragedy, my friend, there is the true tragedy of nature.” I was still listening in awe to the rambling of this old tramp, still being held by him, as he went on, pulling himself closer with each stream of words so that, had I not pulled back every now and then during his speech, we would surely be standing cheek to cheek. “A tragedy, a real tragedy, these beautiful people. And you know what? Let me tell you, my friend, for the ugly people like me, for the spoilers, for the stains, for all us ugly people, there is no tragedy! No tragedy at all! Nothing is lost, my friend, nothing is lost – I am already dead, already dried up, crumbled, soiled. Dying is nothing to the dead, my friend! The dead have no fear of dying, there is no tragedy there, time does not matter to the dead, I could die now, my friend, I could die now, or tomorrow, it does not matter, it is no matter to nature. That’s just it, my friend, these beautiful people look at me, and they know it, they feel it in their stomachs, they notice their hearts getting heavier when they look at me,  my friend, because they know I have nothing to lose, no beauty, nothing, nothing to lose, and they – these beautiful people! – they have everything to lose, and they will lose it – oh how they will lose it! – they are sure to lose it, my friend, and they know it, feel it, sense it when they look at me: they will lose it all.” He gently let go of my arm, and, picking up his clothes and bags, slowly retreated into a nearby alleyway. I followed him with my eyes until he was out of sight, and just when I had decided to walk on and leave the old tramp behind me, I heard an echo coming from the alleyway, “they will lose it all.”