Monday, July 9, 2012

conflicts and the turnip truck

I was leaving work the other day and parked right out front by the curb was a pickup truck with a man behind the wheel and woman sitting in the car beside him. A woman was standing on the curb cussing loudly – she was obviously irate. I couldn’t tell if she was directing her comments to the driver or passenger but she screamed that she was going to “pull your fat ass outta there right now and beat the shit outta you!!!!!” I wanted to stand and watch but being way too civilized for that (plus not wanting to get involved), I kept on walking. From behind me, I heard her call somebody a fucking cunt so apparently she was talking to the woman. I wonder why the driver didn’t just leave? Perhaps the woman on the curb was his wife or ex-girlfriend…who knows?

This event reminded me of something else. A few years ago, I pulled into a parking space at the mall and opposite me was a car parked with a young couple in it. They were obviously deaf and having a heated argument based on their gestures and intensity of sign language. It was quite fascinating and I pretended to be messing with my cell phone as I discretely watched. At one point, the man smacked his forehead as if to say “I’m stupid” and the girl beside him gestured, then smacked his forehead as if to agree. I didn’t want them to see me watching so I left. It made me wonder how two people who are both deaf and blind might have an argument. That must be quite frustrating!

When I was growing up, we moved a lot until the last 5 or 6 years that I lived at home. We lived on 20th street two different times in the same block. Across the street from those houses was a corner store that had trashy apartments above it. The apartments were quite run-down with low-income people living in them. My grandmother told me never to go up the stairs or even walk on that side of the street near any apartments because people drank and women entertained men up there. I was naïve in those days, and had no idea what that meant. Entertained men? I imagined women singing and dancing while men drank and smoked cigars.

Our houses had no air conditioning in those days. The second time we lived on that street, my bedroom was on the front of the house and I had a window that opened to the roof over the porch. On hot nights, I crawled out on the roof to sleep in the cool air (and to smoke). The apartments across the street provided plenty of entertainment. I oftentimes heard people arguing, doors slamming, and sometimes they brought fights out onto the street, parking lot, or alley. I had a perfect view of all these areas from the porch roof. I’ve watched men beat each other with tire irons, baseball bats, bricks, and boards. Neighbors called police and ambulances which added to the excitement. The next morning in the daylight, I’d go look where fights happened. Sometimes I found teeth, blood, hair, and fingernails, but I was really looking for money and jewelry. I didn’t find good things very often, but a few times I did.

One time I did go into an upstairs apartment. One of the women who “entertained men” entertained me. She invited me up for cookies and iced tea. The cookies were great. I didn’t like iced tea but I drank it to be polite. She showed me a photograph album of her kids’ pictures. Her apartment was neat but her things were old and dingy. She was very nice but I never went back. The experience only proved to me my grandmother had no idea what she was talking about. :)

I wonder at what age my girls will stop believing I fell off the turnip truck yesterday? When did I fall off the turnip truck?

No comments: