|Posted on 2004-12-13 02:49:46 by Denver|
The African Muslim leaned against the counter with his roll of Ramadan calendars carefully coiled. I stepped up beside him and placed my dollar on the glass.
"I'll have one piece," I said , "It's a buck?" This fact struck me as especially poignant.
"Yeah." The Indian man behind the counter said to me.
Oh boy! Ninety-nine cents for a slice of pizza in New York City!
"Hey man, are you Muslim?" the African Muslim said.
The three Indians behind the counter smiled and laughed slightly.
"Hey, you're Bangladeshi, aren't you?" he asked.
They smiled sheepishly and the glint in their eye told him it was true.
"Hey, I'm only asking you because I thought you were Muslim. Cause I
would give you a Ramadan calendar here if you were."
"Hey man, you're Muslims. You're not willing to admit who you are because I am a dark skinned African, are you?"
They smiled uncomfortably.
"Hey, you know what you are? You're a bunch of racist motherfuckers."
He strode angrily away flashing them the evil eye. I wanted to yell after the trailing figure- "Hey man, Mohammed doesn't preach that kind of anger." but I realized I was fucking full of shit and the African guy would probably kill me. My sister and I stood there in silence. What could possibly follow the exit of this man's fury? I couldn't even look at the pizza men for fear the demon of judgment would cast fire on their prejudiced souls. Not willing to acknowledge one of their own because he was too dark. Lizzy and I got our pizza and resumed walking through Hell's Kitchen toward the river. In front of the Copacabana Club on Tenth Avenue there was a protest of Coca Cola's union busting tactics in Columbia. We had volunteered to be "legal observers" - neutral bystanders who recorded the details of any confrontations between protesters and the police. We were there to make sure the cops didn't violate anyone's rights to free speech or assembly. To try and ensure that people didn't get clubbed or netted or dragged off to holding pens as had happened to hundreds of protesters the previous few days in midtown Manhattan.
"Do you like Cecile?" she asked me.
"I don't know Liz. I don't know."
"I thought you didn't like her."
"I didn't say that."
"Well, last time we talked you were telling someone she was your homophobic Jamaican girlfriend!"
"Well what's she interested in? What do you like about her?"
"What kind of question is that?"
"(sigh) Well it doesn't sound like you have your head and your heart together on this."
"No, you're right Lizard, I don't."
I liked doing the bubble with her. And the way she was pursuing the same high that I was in social situations. I could barely keep up with her drinking. It worried me but it also spoke of some boldness. Still, the fact that she was drinking cocktails in Soho and sitting on her ass watching sit-coms all week during the Republican occupation of our city did not inspire me to call her up and share my day with her each evening.
Tonight on television at the convention George Bush was telling America that we were transforming into an ownership society. Our social security pensions were going to become shares in the stock market.
After the protest that evening I did call her. I had to. We had something to discuss.
"How you doing?"
"Well, our city is occupied by Republicans."
"How are the protests going?"
"I, well, er, good. I guess. I mean, we had about half a million people at the march on Sunday."
"I guess you...well, you felt like you did something important."
"er, well, there was good media coverage. At least in the times. And on the internet. I don't think TV covered it very well. That's what my brother said. Which is to be expected. We were protesting that, actually."
"Uh huh. Did you drag those body bags through the street yesterday like you were talking about?"
"That protest was postponed. We couldn't agree on what we should wear and who should attend and what time we should do it at."
"Have you ever tried to decide anything with a group of socialists?"
"no. (pause) listen, we should talk about what happened last weekend."
Last weekend she had finally decided she would have sex with me. We had gone out dancing and come back to my place. She wasted no time getting into bed and burrowing under the covers. It was a cold new york autumn evening and as I slowly removed her clothes, she shivered and I silently cursed my landlord for not turning on the radiator heat. I kissed her breasts and held the long nipples in my mouth. I felt the pulse of her stomach on my tongue as I licked the soft dimple of her belly. Then, suddenly I felt my ears being gripped by the muscles of her thighs. I thought this was an electrical impulse of sexual excitement but no, the grip on my skull had hardened like a vise and began pulling me away from the soft down of her pubic region. I wasn't erect. I kissed her neck, her lips. She could feel the limp, dangling appendage on her thigh but did not take it in her hands. After several minutes of fruitless groping she broke from her frozen posture and climbed off the bed to retrieve her pants and sweater. Fully clothed, she made me promise to wake her up at 6am and went to sleep.
My strongest motivating passion was to be with her in a sober, relaxed moment, preferably without any clothes, defenses, or thoughts of what was necessary or required or appropriate. I wanted her to surrender to something outside of herself. In response she was becoming tighter. Later she would say I was over thinking the whole thing, that I was a very sensitive individual who overanalyzed sexual situations.
"I don't always feel the need to be stroked and petted." she said, "Sometimes I just need to be fucked."
She had a problem with oral sex. Just to add to our growing list of difficulties. It had been four months and we hadn't had it. Maybe this was another Jamaican cultural taboo I wasn't aware of. I tried to imagine a life spent with a woman who didn't believe in oral sex. It was unimaginable.
On my way back from Manhattan that evening I passed a Chevrolet suburban purring softly in a neighbor's driveway. Bump n Grind was floating from the trunk of the Chevrolet and I stopped at the gate. A black alley cat squirted out from the bushes and slipped under the fence.
I walked up the stairs, flipped on the lights in the living room and saw Stella curled in a ball on the couch. Flipping her over in a somersault and curling her into my chest I rocked her in my arms gently. Her body went limp- only her tail curled and straightened as it counted the repetitions of my hand stroking her hairy belly. I felt the warm beating heart of another life hanging in my arms and sighed. I had the homophobic Jamaican reggae star Sizzla in my Itunes and I clicked it on as I fell asleep on the couch.
Black woman and child
for you I really have so much love
Dollars bills and kind will fade away
Only you will remain
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