It started off great. We’ve recently moved to a new neighborhood, which, for obvious reasons, shall remain nameless, but I can reveal that it’s famous for its thriving hipster population, it has a questionable train and it’s called Greenpoint. Damn it.
Anyway, we couldn’t wait to start getting to know the neighborhood and its people. And indeed, not long after we’d moved, we met some wonderful people, like our neighbor Chris - a young, bearded, spectacled paper mache sculptor. We had the nicest talk and he even recommended a good coffee shop right around the corner from our street. We immediately went there to get some coffee, which was indeed excellent, and also met Derek. With his thick beard, glasses and a knitted pullover, he was the friendliest barista / Conceptual Artist, and he invited us to his photography exhibit featuring different kinds of shapes made in coffee foam.
In the next few days, we met a few more nice people who live in our block, like Jim – a barbate guy with horn rimmed glasses and a wool beanie, who is a multidisciplinary artist / dog walker, and we promised we’d come to see his latest show that deals with modern noises, which was especially challenging for him, he explained to us, since it was a mime show. We also met Kevin, who defines himself “a paincer” (a painter-dancer) whose facial hair, glasses and sweater were covered with paint stains. Kevin invited us to his expo opening in an a place that used to be a slaughterhouse, then a nightclub, then a dayclub, then a daycare, then a nightcare and is now an art gallery / slaughterhouse. During our three weeks at the neighborhood, we met so many friendly people and we started to feel at home. Until that one snowy day when I walked down the street and passed by a wayfarer.
“Hi Daphny!” he said. It was a bearded fellow, wearing some kind of a woolen outfit and big glasses. He obviously knew me. He looked familiar.
“Oh, hi! I didn’t see you there. How are you… man.. compadre?”
The guy looked at me for a few seconds in a funny expression, “Don’t you remember me?”
-Sure I do. Don’t be ridiculous. So how are you doing, bro?
-What’s my name, then?
-C’mon, I know you.
Some people started to gather around us. Most of them had beards and glasses. One of them interfered. “Hey, what’s going on”?
“Nothing!” I almost yelled. “Everything is fine. I’m just having a cool, hip, relaxed conversation with- - “ Crap.
“She has no idea who I am”, said the guy. “And after everything I did for her”.
“I know who you are”, I said with a deep autosuggestion, chuckling, to show how confident I was, “You’re obviously Chris. Our neighbor”.
Another bearded man stepped forward. “I’m Chris”, he growled. “Don’t you recognize me? I loaned you my driller”.
“I knew that. I was only joking. Of course you’re Chris”. I turned again to my guy “And you are Brandon. The guy from the thrift shop. I bought several lamps from you and we discussed your avant-garde band that does Country music covers played backwards”. I never pray, but this time I found myself sending a message to God in silent hope that I got it right this time.
“No, that’s me”, lazy God showed no will to help out a girl in distress. Another man, apparently Brandon, approached us.
An unpleased murmur arose from the small crowd of bearded, spectacled men who surrounded me. I felt I was running out of options.
“What can I do? You all look the same. It’s hard to tell the difference.”
“We all look the same to you?” asked Derek, or Kevin, or Chris, I wasn’t sure but I noticed the contempt in his eyes.
“No, no, no, that’s not what I meant. You don’t all look the same, of course”, I tried to explain myself, as the group started cornering me.
“You’re a racist. A disgusting, low-life, ignorant racist”, snarled Brandon, or someone.
“Me? Racist? How dare you. I’m black! Ok, no. I’m not black, but - - I’m Jewish, which is even worse.“
“Racist!” Chris / Jim howled. I snapped.
“Then I’m a racist. So what! Haven’t you heard of a razor? And how about buying regular non-wool clothes? Ever thought of that?! And what with those huge glasses? Get smaller glasses, for God’s sake! And – by the way – you’re all engage in some kind of weird art. Why? Why’s that? What’s wrong with you?”
They all looked at my silently. Finally one of them opened his mouth: “This is just sad, you know. To see that after all those years of progress and recognition, there are still ignorant and primitive people like you out there. I pity you. Come on, guys”, he approached the rest. “She’s not worth it. Let’s go to my place, smoke weed and express our disgust towards that worthless racist by a dance performance that involves surgeon masks.” They all quietly left. One of them tried to spit on the ground in contempt. He was not very good at it.