Scenes from a Fluffya, 2005-2013

by wechslerh66

Fluffya 005

I wave down a cab on Broad Street at 5:30 a.m. As I open the door, a drunk man with a goatee and a black eye staggers up to me and begins shouting: “Ay!! Where’s Albert Einstein Hospital?!”

Me: “I think it’s in the Northeast.”

Man with black eye (appalled and becoming more belligerent): “The Northeast?! …what do you mean?!?”

I close the door as he begins to knock on the window, screaming “Ay!!”

The cabdriver, a man named Mahmoud, comments as he drives away: “He’s crazy! That man, he’s crazy! He’s crazy!”

Me: “Do you know him?”

Mahmoud: “No I don’t know him. I don’t know: was he black? I don’t even know what he is. I don’t think he’s black. He’s foreigner, like me!”

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I’m walking to my car on Catherine Street when some guy on coke asks me for 85 cents because “I’m from New Jersey, I gotta make a phone call and it cost 85 cent to call New Jersey.”

I give him the extra change in my pocket which is probably more than 85 cents.

He responds by asking: “Hay man, you ride a bicycle—got a nice air pump you can buy.”

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I’m at Pastoral, the Korean restaurant on 13th Street, ordering a bowl of haemul doen jaen ji gae. Outside it is dark, rainy, a 40 degree March afternoon. A fiftysomething Italian-American man wearing a polo shirt, shorts, and sneakers, sunglasses hanging off his collar, walks in with his wife. He heads over to the Korean hostess: “Ayyy, how you doin’!!”

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I’m driving west on Lombard Street at 7 a.m. on a Saturday when I notice, on my left, an elderly black woman waiting outside with an umbrella (it’s not raining) and, on my right, an object gleaming at the top of a trashcan. It’s a large tambourine with a small rip in the canvas. I pull over, cross the street and pick up the tambourine.

The elderly black woman suddenly shouts, “Oooh, I didn’t see that!” and begins rambling, “That’s NICE, I could fix that up, I’m a singer in a choir…”

I give her the tambourine and drive off.

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I’m walking to a flea market on Broad & South when a black man walks up to me waving cigarettes. “Care’ buy a pack of Newports?”

Me: “No thanks.”

He then walks over to another black man in a van keeping watch over a bunch of broken knick-knacks and antiques no one is buying.

Cigarette Man: “Care’ buy a pack of Newports?”

Man in Van: “I haven’t smoked since I got back from Vietnam, 1968. I was in the 3rd battalion.”

Cigarette Man: “My brother was in Vietnam, also 3rd battalion. He died of Agent Orange.”

Man in Van: “Don’t tell me that, that’s where I’m goin’ when this is over. I gotta get tested for Agent Orange.”

The two exchange Vietnam memories, eventually wave goodbye and the man with the cigarettes moves on to his next opportunity.

Cigarette Man: “Care’ buy a pack of Newports?”

Black teenage girl: “I don’t smoke.”

Cigarette Man: “Good.”

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Walking to work past Pine Street one morning I pass a man nodding on the steps of a brownstone, eyes glazed over, stubble, shorts pulled down, one hand stuck up his ass.

I apparently shake my head as I look over, as a blonde marketing type also on her way to work comes up to me immediately: “Like, did you just see that guy on the steps?”

Me: “Yeah, there’s a lot of people on heroin around here these days.”

Her: “Like, you don’t think he lives there, do you…? Like, what if some girl opens the door….do you think I should call the cops?”

Me: “He’s obviously stoned or high on something—I think the only person he’s capable of harming is himself; I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Her: “OK, thanks.”

Seriously, it may be unpleasant to look at, but to be capable of rape, you first have to be capable of MOVEMENT.

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“Father Gregory” is the preacher at the corner of 16th and Market who is obsessed with the devil and rants about fornication, lesbians, and fast food when I walk to work every morning and when I leave every afternoon. I missed the topic of one morning’s rant, but some bewildered chav (think Eminem) apparently mishearing him and/or taking his rant personally walks away frustrated, cursing to himself, “You ain’t callin’ me no bitch! Who you callin’ bitch—what the f***!”

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I’m taking a photo of a drawing of what looks like a bomb with SMOKE WEED written on it on the side of an abandoned building on Broad Street when a drunk comes up to me, points to another drawing next to it that looks like a bunch of scribbling done by a drunk and says, “Ayyyy, you like this one? I did it yesterday morning after I got stabbed here.”

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I’m walking to work up 13th Street and mistakenly make eye contact with a lanky, well-groomed African American man who, as soon as I walk past him, calls out, “Hey! Excuse me–” and then when I turn around, whispers in cupped hands, “Would you happen to have any coke?”

Me: “Sorry, you’re asking the wrong person.”

Him: “I was just released from Dallas State Penitentiary– I would rather not hustle–”

I politely decline. In retrospect, I should probably have had recidivism statistics handy.

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Overheard at 4th & Monroe on 96 degree July afternoon:

Girl: “You doin OK with the heat?”

Mailman: “I’m just drinkin’ the wooder, I’m good!”

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