Last night I was walking back from Dawn's house to my house, around 8 p.m., in a gentle snow. Two boys were on our favorite corner, then just one. That kid had a lot to say to me, which I pretended not to hear.
"Hey, hey, como estas? Hey gringa, what's up? You know, George Bush doesn't like black people," the strong implication of which was that I don't like black people either. I thought about hollering, "You know, I don't like George Bush," but decided against it.
Then he started singing "Gasolina" at me. He probably knows the words better than I do.
I just kept walking, though he was loud enough I'm sure the whole neighborhood heard it. I looked down the street and there was a shovel parked against my fence. It was Tony. He had his back to me. "Hey, Tony, is that you?" I asked, not loudly.
He jumped, startled, then turned around. "Don't do that to me!"
"I'm sorry," I said.
Young Punk on the corner continued his Gasolina serenade, then switched into some other tack that didn't sound any more pleasant. You couldn't quite make out the words from my house. I ignored it and started talking with Tony about snow, etc. Soon after, while Young Punk was still shouting, yet another lady who probably works the corner came by, trying to get 70 cents out of either Tony or me. I dug up some change. Like Tony and Young Punk, she too is black. The irony of my interactions with them while this young punk was hollering up and down the street about me did not escape me, shall we say. I would say, "yeah, i don't like black people, I don't like them so much I hire them to clear my snow and I give them money when they ask for it."
But Young Punk would see a different sort of irony--I suspect he would look at it as "that gringa chick is OK with black people as long as they work for her or beg from her." And he has no reason to think any different based on what he can see. I actually went to the next door neighbors' house and knocked on their door to invite them to my party, but they didn't answer, though there were lights on in the house and I saw someone inside. I don't blame them for not coming to the door. Probably I should just leave a note.
I'll have to get brave enough either to offer Young Punk a cookie or call him out for selling drugs to his own people. I'm frankly not sure I have the guts to do either, but I might be able to muster the courage to say, "I don't like guys who stand on the corner, whatever color they are."
Meanwhile, I think my suspicions of problems of another kind with Tony are probably correct. He did call me "sweetheart" to my face last night after clearing out the snow and ice, and he looked at me funny when I handed him a five-dollar bill.
"Everybody has to keep warm and dry," I said. He took it.
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