Senin, 05 Maret 2012

Staying In The Cage

Back in the 70s East 10th Street between 1st and 2nd Streets was what the locals called a 'hot' street. Drugs of every kind were sold at the Blue Door. The Green Door was a brothel serviced by young Puerto Ricans. Street dealers conducted their business on the sidewalk with impunity. The police were on the take. I avoided walking down that block. Shootings and rip-offs were common dangers and threatening junkies provided an annoying gauntlet for pedestrians seeking a short-cut rather than skirt the danger zone.My present neighborhood of Fort Greene was equally dangerous back in 'the day', but a wholesale exodus of white professionals transformed the area into a desirable quartier for exiles from Manhattan. Muggings and robberies are rare at present, but I detour from the block between Lafayette and Fulton same as I had East 10th Street, although this time because of a cigar store on the southside of the street.I hate the smell of the cigars and there's something not right about the middle-aged wasta cigarsmoker running the den of nicotine. He nodded to me on several occasions and finally I told him, "You don't know me and I don't know you. Let's act like that's the case and life will be good."He was surprised by my aggressive rejection, however my 6th sense about good and bad remains keen despite my age.This morning around 9:30 my landlord AP received a phone call about his double-parked car. His Audi station wagon was blocking the wasta's motorcycle access to the street. AP said that he'd move the car and like a good neighbor walked down to pull out, so the wasta could hit the street, only when he arrived at the spot, the wasta was nowhere in sight. AP beeped his horn and the wasta strutted from his house to confront AP."What are you doing blocking my bike?" The Wasta is about 6-1. He thinks that he's a tough guy. "I'm here to do you a favor." A line of cars were double-parked awaiting the passage of the alternate side of the street enforcement at noon. "I'll move out and then go back into my space.""You don't have any consideration for this neighborhood." The wasta worked late at the cigar shop. Rumor has it that his work doesn't have anything to do with cigars. "I have plenty of consideration, otherwise I wouldn't have put my number inside the car." AP is a good family man, but he's also a New Yorker. Backing down wasn't in his make-up.The two of them jawed without escalation and he reported the confrontation to our mutual friend, Mumbles."Where was your upstairs tenant?" Mumbles meant me."I thought it was better that James Steele stay in his cage." AP was a good friend and knew how easily my blood got hot. Of course when AP later recounted this altercation to me, I seethed with anger, but was also glad that he had the good presence of mind to keep me out of it."No sense in making a big deal out of it.""Yeah.""Better to keep me calm." Better for all parties concerned, because at my age I can't play tough.Playing is for kids and I like playing with my son too much as it is.Peace and love.That's the new me.ps I have nothing against cigars.As Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."Other times it's phallic.

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