In the sixties, the ahem, tradition of robbing innocent passers-by in Central Park, New York began and the name ‘mugger’ entered the English language. Everybody knows that John, I hear you say.
Perhaps so, but what you may not know is how this ahem, tradition, developed in the seventies. By then the muggers were numerous and greedy, some making hundreds of dollars per day at their chosen career. They even fought among themselves for their particular patch, so to speak, and guarded it jealously. Then the true vultures arrived.
A new and capable super-mugger came along and the word ‘klugger’ also entered the English language. Time magazine ran an extensive story on the kluggers back in the day. The theory was that they were special forces veterans back from Viet Nam with no jobs to go to. Tired of the soup kitchens and handouts, some of their number spotted an opportunity in the fresh air of Central Park.
With years of training in infiltration behind enemy lines, these guys stalked the muggers. They watched and waited as the muggings took place and when they were satisfied that the mugger’s pockets were full of cash, they struck. A few hours later the police would find a semi-conscious low-life lying on the grass with empty pockets. Naturally the kluggers did not expect any real follow up as the police were quite happy the muggers were getting a taste of their own medicine. Over a three month period one summer, the population of muggers dropped off to such an extent that the kluggers had to do a bit of mugging for themselves. But being the good “Robin Hood’s,” that they were, the kluggers then faded away.
I clearly remember reading that Time article and being tickled pink by it, but a search of the all-knowing internet has yielded nothing on the kluggers. They were a short-lived phenomenon as the muggers ran for their lives when what was happening to them became clear. The mugger, as a species, had natural enemies in the wilds of the Park but the klugger had no known enemy and yet they appeared to have gone extinct, so much so that they have been erased from history.
This all came to mind as I leafed through an old book I found in the shed. With time to kill I read a short chapter about a guy down on his luck and hungry. In desperation, he jumped an innocent one evening and stole his wallet. Having successfully made his getaway, he stopped in a lane to breathlessly count out the wad of notes from the wallet. Waking up later in hospital, he discovered the wallet had been taken in return for a large lump on his head.
I don’t know what kind of perversity you need to be suffering from for that story to appeal to you but I just love the ridiculous irony of it.
Bring back the kluggers I say!