Three Stories from the Streets of Bloomington

Walking down the street, heading to Carl's for some ice cream. Nate stays home, putting the boys to bed. I'm wearing mom-jeans, my make-up has worn off, revealing my incredibly dark under eyes. My hair is pulled into an unassuming pony-tail. I'm not feeling remotely alluring, especially because this is my second trip for a large chunky shake in as many days. For these reasons, the following scene catches me by surprise.

I'm on the sidewalk, passing by a house with three or four young men sitting on the stoop. I see one of them give me the up-down, I guess he is about 18, Latino. With less than 10 feet separating us, he commences with his cat-call. The close proximity makes it one of the most awkward cat-calls I've endured; the phrases he employs makes it one of the most humorous: "Hey, mama. Where you goin'? Don't hurt nobody. Don't hurt nobody."

We pull into the parking lot of Kroger. It's hot. Our windows are down. Nate gets out, ice cream and lemonade on his mind. I stay in the car with the boys. Exactly as he gets out of the car, an African American woman pulls her cart up to the van next to us. She's talking in a friendly voice to a friend? spouse? in the front seat. Instantly, her voice changes and she begins harshly admonishing a child who has, apparently, unbuckled his seat belt.

"If you don't get back in that seat belt right now these white people are gonna call the police on me."

I follow her logic, but her son misses it. "Why?" he queries.
"Because I'm gonna beat the hell outta you, that's why."

I don't appreciate being used as part of her threat, but somehow I admire her candor.

Taking an early morning walk with the boys. Theo is in the stroller, Simon walks alongside. We walk past a plaza that contains a laundry mat and a convenience store. In front of the laundry mat, a man stands outside of a car, a woman stands by the passenger side door. He starts to shout at me. I can't understand one word he's saying. Typically I would ignore someone shouting at me, especially a male. But something about the scene, maybe the woman standing right there makes me think, "Maybe they need help." So I look a little harder, a little longer than I normally would.

But, no, after a few seconds I can tell by the inflection of his voice that he is trying to work some kind of pick-up magic, with a woman who could be his wife or mother for all I know standing right there. I turn my head back to the path before me, ignoring his calls. He persists in shouting at me. I still can't understand what he's saying, but I can imagine. For the first time in my cat-call history, I decide to break silence.

"Hey, man," I say disapprovingly, "I'm with my kids here."

He answers and for the first time I can make out his words. "I LOVE KIDS!" he says.

This response leaves me speechless. I keep walking.


Colin said...

I love the twisty logic of the Black Mother: first we think she's saying that white people would be so petty and nerdy as to call the cops over a seat-belt violation, then we realize it's a set-up for a ass-whup threat.

Colin said...

oh, wait, they're in a shopping cart seatbelt, I get it now. . .

The Tricyclist said...

no, the kid was in the car. you were right. i think. now i'm confused...

Colin said...

responding to your running questions here for some reason: I never run with music because I have a regular ipod and it's annoying as shit to hold it while running.
But I'm thinking of getting one of those tiny clip-on shuffles so I can full-on rock out.
Do you have a shuffle?