Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good w/ the 'Hood: Joan of Arc meets Weenie

I’ve already written about the park across the street a little bit—our neighborhood’s one green space. Beautiful, if you overlooked the glass-strewn dirt and the tagged building, and our bedroom windows did.

I’m walking home from somewhere. Two young girls are in the park, maybe ten or twelve, both of them just loitering, maybe looking for something to do. A man is peeing right in front of them. They’re trying to ignore this, drifting away.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I stop oh, maybe twelve feet away. “This isn’t your bathroom. You’re right next to a middle school. There are children using this park.”

He shifts around, about my height, a little shorter, burly build, smooth face. All his clothes are brown. The overcoat’s dirty but not encrusted, if you know what I mean. He’s drunk, but not all the way.

“What are you going to do about it?” He’s mean with it.

Brain in fast mode: I’m going to plant my tennis shoe right where your zipper isn’t closed.
Brain in fast mode: (ah, not very much, actually . . .)

Mouth engages: “You shouldn’t do this. You either live near here, or you don’t. If you don’t, then this isn’t your park.”

“I live two blocks down the street,” he argues back.

“Then you should have walked two more blocks before going to the bathroom,” I tell him. “Don’t do this.”

He walks off, pissed. The two girls are long gone.

This kind of encounter, where I push for some standard and win a temporary battle, occurs over and over again. I never know if the war has made a difference to anyone but me. These encounters drive me to make fragile alliances over and over again. I never know if these have made a difference either.

I do know that some place in my spine is doing the thinking: Whatever words come out of my mouth seem to work at the time. I never know what I will say in advance.

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