guttersnipe - \GUTT-er-snype\
1 : a homeless vagabond and especially an outcast boy or girl in the streets of a city
2 : a person of the lowest moral or economic station
Tracie's family is well off. They have a sweeping circular driveway, a pool, and a lady who dusts the collectibles and another who cooks them dinner. Her parents are both attorneys at law. Tracie isn't entirely sure what that means other than being very busy. She has a lot of toys. She goes to a private grade school and wears shiny patent leather shoes. Her mother scolds her when she accidently covers them in mud on the rare occasions she is able to locate some mud.
In Tracie's opinion being an attorney at law and having a circular driveway are not exactly fun. Her parents wear faces that seem permanently drawn in anxiety. They talk in whispers and receive a lot of phone calls. She has taken to responding to the question: "what do you want to be when you grow up" with "not an attorney at law". When her mother overhears this she makes a face as if she had eaten sour candy.
She looks everywhere for other possibilities. For awhile she followed around the lady who did the dusting and was convinced she could grow up to do this. The lady, her name was Ms. Wendy, calmly told her to stop being a bother.
One day in September her parents take a break from being attorneys to take Tracie to the Science Museum. She overhears her father saying something about teaching her about other career paths.
"So she won't be a lawyer, maybe she can be a scientist right?"
She doesn't know what a scientist does. She imagines it isn't that different from being an attorney.
At the museum there are many things that spark and light up and bounce. She spends several long minutes watching tornados form in a big glass tube. She thinks maybe she could make tornados when she grows up.
Her father buys her a chemistry set in the gift shop. He says something about a noble prize that Tracie does not understand. As they walk along the bustling street to their car, her hand tucked inside the palm of her father's, she sees something that makes her eyes widen in delight.
Across the street, sitting against the side of a building, is a man with an untamed beard. He is wearing clothes that do not match and which are tearing at the cuffs and joints. He is playing a harmonica and as they get closer, she can see the dirt under his fingernails. His eyes are a bright blue, and as her father tugs her along past, he winks while pulling a long low pitched tone on his mouth harp.
She hears her mother mutter something about bums and homeless people under her breath. Tracie eagerly turns her face back to see the man before he disappears from sight. He is grinning now, and waves at her.
She waves back.
When, two days later, her father's bushy eyebrowed boss asks her: "what do you want to be when you grow up, Tracie?" she has her answer prepared.
"I'm going to be a bum."
Her father chokes on his scotch.