aqua fortis

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


So, on a few occasions Rob has officially verbalized the idea that we all have certain friends who get a "free pass"--these are people we've been friends with for so long, since childhood or whatever, that we are still going to be friends with them regardless of the strange adults they might have become. These are people one might not actually become friends with if one were to meet them NOW.

Most of us have at least one or two of those. On Sunday, we visited one of Rob's, A., and his wife J., and were rather disconcerted to find out via casual conversation that they are actually quite racist.

Even bearing in mind that both of them work in the State Capitol for Republican members of Congress, the extent of their unquestioning, even naive, adherence to certain stereotypical attitudes was truly amazing. "Our neighborhood's been going to hell in a handbasket ever since they started enforced busing," they griped. "Our friend has just got to move somewhere else--his sound wall is open to the street and there's always black kids hanging out on his lawn." And, rather insensitively considering I was right there in the car, "I need to buy some cigarettes--I think there's a Habeeb-mart a few blocks away."

When they looked at us expectantly, as if they thought we would cheerfully agree with their righteous outrage and say, yes, isn't that just terrible, we said, "Actually, our favorite neighbors by far are the Latino family across the street, because they own a local business and are constantly making improvements to their house. Whereas the white trash neighbors behind us have a noisy punk teenage kid, hardly even do routine upkeep, and can go to hell."

Also funny was the fact that when they directed us to the nearest Chevron station, they warned us it was across the freeway on Florin and therefore "on the bad side of town." We noted that, having lived on San Pablo Ave. a few blocks away from Richmond, we weren't too worried about a Chevron off the freeway in the Pocket. (Note the sentence in Wikipedia that reads "In 2005 Richmond surpassed Compton as the (statistically) most dangerous city in the state." I'm not sure where they got that information, but I'd believe it.) When we drove up to the Chevron, it was...fine. Completely normal. COMPLETELY.

It certainly didn't compare to the time we were trapped in the drive-thru line at the El Cerrito Jack-in-the-Box with a guy getting arrested by the cops about five feet away from our car after having harassed a girl in the parking lot, some homies in the car behind us playing REALLY loud music and accidentally (we hope) tapping our bumper with their car, and us on the tail end of a shroom trip and trying to put something in our stomachs before going home. I was cowering down in the passenger seat, terrified for my life. This was back in the day; my life is pleasantly more boring now.

I have to note that this is a really ghetto Jack-in-the-Box. Another time we were in the drive-thru line there, the guy in front of us got pissed off at the cashier for some reason, and leaned out of his car to hit the glass window. We could only conclude that he was a complete dick.

On a related note, at the McDonalds further down San Pablo, they once asked us if we wanted jam with our bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit. JAM.


TadMack said...

Ah, those 'free pass' friends... I used to have a lot of them, and then I started letting distance do the job that nature intended... natural selection in friendships being that the strong survive, I have started being a leeetle less gentle in the "are you kidding me" department - good for you and R. for standing up and saying, "Hey, no, that's not how we believe." It's a fine line between self-righteousness and ...whatever else we're trying to be (mature? tolerant?); it's a constant balancing act to stay on the right side.

Having grown up in a neighborhood that was largely ethnic minorities, I know that there are people behind the loud music, low-riders cars and gangs of people "hangin." Having had a childhood friend shot to death for walking home with milk, I understand the fear, though. Again, that balancing act... to the jam thing, I snicker in your general direction. My pale spouse eats maple syrup with his sausage, thank you. I NEVER knew people who did that before I met him. I'm still not feeling the jam thing, however...

(sorry for the long ramble)