I just moved to a new house. It’s a small house, but it’s a nice house. It’s in a neighborhood, like most houses these days. I guess you could find a house that isn’t in a neighborhood, but you’d either have to pay a bunch of money to own all the surrounding land, or you’d be in a predicament if you wanted to do anything at all because you’d have to drive seventy-three minutes on perilous mountain roads in the dark and the snow just to go grocery shopping.
Anyway, I just moved into a new house in a new neighborhood. It’s a nice neighborhood. The people here all, for the most part anyway, look like normal people with families and jobs and stuff, normal people stuff. I like it.
The other day I was driving home from work and I saw something terrifying. The moment I saw it I heard that BaDing exclamation point sound from Metal Gear Solid in my mind and I felt my sympathetic nervous system start to kick in. It wasn’t really terrifying, it wasn’t really even alarming, it was just not what I expected and I noticed a response in myself that I didn’t expect or even approve of.
I saw a young dude, probably a high school or community college kid, driving in a busted up Honda looking all busted and shady. The first thing I saw was the car. It definitely didn’t belong in the neighborhood, parts all falling off and duct tape holding stuff on and paint all mismatched, it just didn’t quite fit in with the overall aesthetic of my new suburban neighborhood. I thought, Hey man, no problem, I’ve driven much worse than that, maybe dude is just frugal. Then I saw the kid. He probably fit in better than the car, a little whiteboy with his hat on backward and pointing at the sky, his first facial hair coming in in heroic patches, and a gleam of youthful confidence in his eyes; you see this all over the suburbs, children screaming for attention because both of their parents work full time to pay for their moderately comfortable lifestyle and meagre luxuries, no problem.
But then something just clicked. Maybe it was the combination of the car and the kid – I must have been thinking it was a single mother or a visiting grandparent or something innocuous, maybe it was all in my head. For no reason that kid immediately became an enemy in my mind. I felt my nerves kick in, the blood coursing through my veins now audible and warm, my senses dialing up to eleven, time seeming to slow to a crawl as I prepared to defend my neighborhood from this hooligan. Side note, I happen to be a little whiteboy myself, and I have Hooligan tattooed on my neck, so don’t get all righteous on me here.
Anyway. I was ready to defeat this interloper, defend my homeland with my life if need be, from this OTHER. I caught myself staring at him. And it wasn’t just a normal stare, an interested stare or a drifting-off stare, but the stare of death. The Hey homie, what’s good? stare. The Bet you won’t stare. I was willing this kid to catch my vibe and get out of his car and enter a mortal struggle with me. I actually slowed my car down and made it ridiculously obvious that I was challenging this kid. He either didn’t notice or didn’t care, because he just kept right on driving, leaving me feeling foolish and a little disappointed.
Then I finished driving home, which was only like three hundred feet from where this kid left me holding the bag of my own self righteousness and prejudice. When I got home I realised just how foolish I was. This kid looked like he needed help, either with money or with money management skills. He looked like he was up to no good, but realistically, as I get older, all kids look like they’re up to no good. I remember looking like that, it was part of the fun. This kid was probably just some happy little dude named Jeremy or Zack or something who was on his way to his girlfriend’s, or boyfriend’s, house after having just completed some homework or chores or something.
I felt like an old fool and I just thought that I’d share that with you.
Thanks for reading guys. Live long and prosper.