Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Boyz in the 'Hood

Welcome to everyone from Pioneer Woman. For some reason a lot of people have clicked through from my comment on her very interesting post from yesterday. Thanks for stopping by, please come back!

This week I'm doing a 10 Things about the report I receive from the Social Security Administration every year on my earnings. It involves some math and some research materials, though, so that won't be until later. For now I wanted to give you a couple of vignettes from my beloved neighborhood. I was inspired to do that because this crappy thing happened there, just a block from my last apartment and it sucks so I'm trying to bring the love.

When I walk the dog in the morning I cross a couple of streets that are major through ways for commuters. Often when a vehicle, especially an SUV with tinted windows, is waiting at a light on one of these streets there is loud bass-thumping hip hop or rap or house music playing. It's not even 8 am and I'll be standing 10 feet from the car and I'll be able to feel the bass line in my sternum.

This morning I approached such a light and I could hear the bass thumping but not feel it yet. The line had some familiarity to it. Ba da bum, ba da bada bum, ba da bum, ba da bada bum in this rising cadence and I almost had it when the vocal came out, "SWEEEEET CAROLINE (ba ba daaaaaaa)!!" I have to say that's a pretty good way to start the day.

Last night when I was walking the dog I had to be creative about the route. When it's light out we usually go to the park but now I get home from work and change my shoes and the light's all gone. So I walked up a side street and ahead was a group of young men sitting around talking on a stoop. This is, regrettably, always a slightly odd situation. I wonder if they're profiling me as the interloping Yuppie scum and they wonder if I'm profiling them as scary hoodlums. I have lived in the area long enough to know that people sitting on steps may be assholes but are rarely scary. I usually go with a noncommittal half-smile sort of a thing maybe throwing in a nod if someone looks at me but they rarely do. If one of them starts saying shitty stuff about my dog I can move on and the smile will seem aloof and uncaring. If someone does engage me with a smile or a greeting I haven't started off on the wrong foot. It can go either way.

So I approach with my wispy Kate Moss smile on and one of the guys turns and looks at me. "Evening" he says.

"Hey." I reply.

A couple others wish me good evening and I hey them.

The last one is leaning agains the step and he waits to be heard without muddling. His voice is deep with a smile in it, "Obama, right?" he asks?

So sweet is that question to my ears I lose all pretense of vaguery, "Oh hell yes!"

They all laugh and I turn the corner to a chorus of, "She knows, right?" "Yup, she knows."

I know that those guys will be sitting on stoops in front of buildings, hopefully in this neighborhood, talking about the same shit, about politics and economics and racism and rent and food and girls, when they're 85. They'll be engaging passersby and laughing and joking for as long as they live and I love that. Lately a lot of people have been lamenting the loss of that sort of neighborhood watch in our area but it's still there you just have to be lucky enough to catch it.


  1. Anonymous8:00 PM

    It's always sweet when any of us find some common ground. I'm hoping (and thinking) that these guys will watch out for you down the line.

  2. I feel certain that they would. This is clearly their neighborhood and they wouldn't want it sullied.

  3. That just made my day.

  4. Gypsy, just when I read your comment I realized that maybe I should have asked those guys if they were registered to vote! Whoops, opportunity missed.

  5. You have a Kate Moss smile?

  6. No, I actually have Kate Moss's smile. I cut it off the bitch and keep it in my pocket for times like this when I need it.

    Um, OK, again no. The smile of which I speak is sort of unfocused and transparent in a way that might be interpreted as nonthreatening and might be interpreted as high-as-a-kite.