Saturday, October 4

Giving the Finger

Somewhere between the realization that I lived next to a recycling center and the second time I saw New York Magazine publish full feature articles on internet fights, I decided it was time to move somewhere else. I lived in Brooklyn, in a part of Bushwick that most people don't refer to when they say Bushwick, because most of the people who talk to me are affluent and some of them are white and a lot of them don't consider the McKibbon lofts to be in a nice neighborhood. But anywhere you can buy bottled Kombucha is a nice neighborhood. And even though they are dicrepid, lead painted, cockroach-of-many-sizes-infested dormatories, the McKibbon lofts are too expensive for real poor people. I'm not a real poor person, but I would not pay 800/mo. to live in Joe's Apartment. So I lived in what Prarie calls, real Bushwick.

On a normal day, when I want to feel comfortable and look, by my standards, attractive, I wear a big t-shirt and sheer stockings; I try to make sure my asshole is covered. In the circles I run in, this is normal and in Manhattan, this style goes unnoticed. But in Bushwick, I am a rude and offensive thing. One afternoon, wearing tights and a XXXL, I was scaling the stairs to the J train as an obese woman was climbing down. The stress was too much on her body, and she had stopped in the middle of the flight to catch her breath. It gave her a chance to look at me.
"Where are your clothes?" she asked, not smiling.
"What?" I hadn't heard her and thought she needed help.
"Where are your clothes?" she repeated, very serious.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," I said into her eyes, "I don't know what you're talking about."

Later that afternoon I was a block away from Silent Barn, which lies on the border of Ridgewood, Queens, and my kind of Bushwick. I had bought bags of ice or a case of something heavy, so I was struggling and walking quickly back to the Barn. Little kids that live on Wyckoff Ave were tricycling around and throwing rocks at each other when they saw me. One of them yelled, "Ho!" at me, and when I didn't respond, thought I hadn't heard her. "She's a ho," another or the same girl yelled after me. I turned around and gave them the finger. When I turned around again, I could hear them gasping, baffled that I could swear at such small children. But it was already too late for them, and I wasn't teaching them anything new.

This aggression continued; not the neighborhood's, but mine.

And on my last day in New York, I borded a rush hour Queens-bound N or W train from whatever station the Q ends at; this is apparently a popular transfer, and the Astoria area obviously deserves more frequent departures. The two people who were exiting the train got off and then everyone on the platform trickled on, all wading in that slow, shuffly way commuters walk when their feet are too close to the feet of the person in front of them. One kid, though, wearing big headphones, thought he was above this gait, and slung his arm in front of me, grabbing for a railing on the inside of the subway car. Reflexively I slapped his arm out of my way and kept my place in line. He was stunned, the people already on the train were stunned, but I felt normal. And that's why I needed to get out of New York.

Nick Cave -- In The Ghetto [cover]

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