Got a text message from Mom, “The Prez spoke movingly about this sad situation.”
Got VIP Tickets to see Paul Mooney do his stand-up show “Black Man In The White House” at the Harold Washington Cultural Center on Martin Luther King Drive.
Why am I lucky?
I’ll tell you why.
Despite boneheaded decisions, despite a series of unprovoked attacks, based on my appearance, which didn’t escalate, for one reason or another, into a fatal gunshot wound, despite the odds, I’m still here.
Case In Point…
Last week, I was coming home from a show, late, walking through the lobby of my building, minding my own business, headed for the elevator. I smiled casually at the doorman, a polite formality, at best. In the corner of the lobby, somewhere in the darkness, someone called out to me.
I was in a good mood from the show, so I approached the friendly voice, to thank him for even considering my deli, with all the options available in Chicago.
“I thought about going to your deli,” he said. “But then I thought about your Jew Face. And your Fucking Jew Grandfather who stole the deli from the legitimate deli guys who were running it.”
I had a few choices: walk away, run away or sit down and engage.
You have to understand, this is where I live. You have to understand, this is my home. You have to understand, or at least try.
Walking through the lobby, on the way to the elevator is supposed to be the first indication I’m home and it’s okay to let down my guard, especially with a doorman who I’m paying to sit there, for 98% of the time, doing nothing.
2% of the time is really what I’m paying the doorman for, to create the illusion of safety, or at the very least, intervene when someone who lives there is being accosted, physically or verbally.
Words can be dangerous. You can assault someone with words.
The doorman sat there. He watched, as if it was a show, as if it was my job to dance, as if it was my job to improvise, as if it was my job to navigate the uncomfortableness, deal with the uncomfortableness or run away which would only send a signal I was willing to accept being bullied in my own home.
The doorman sat there, in the lobby he’s supposed to be guarding. Suddenly, it was my job to dance and it was his job to enjoy the show with VIP Tickets, in the front row.
Left with no choice, I walked across the lobby toward the darkness, where the voice was coming from. I sat down to his right and engaged.
The Show Began.
“Sounds like you knew my Grandfather,” I said. “How nice. I miss my Grandfather. I always look forward to the unexpected opportunity to talk about him. It keeps him alive, in my heart.”
“I’m a bar guy. I spent my life in the bar business,” he said. “Your Grandfather was nothing but a Jew with money. He wasn’t a bar guy. He didn’t know anything about the bar business. And look at you now, little suburban boy. You’ve been given everything and earned nothing. You don’t even live here. You rent a room from that faggot whose bitch wife left him. A couple faggots living together on the 7th floor.”
“Whether or not we’re faggots is none of your business,” I said. “And his ex-wife isn’t a bitch. She’s a dear friend of mine. They had a great marriage. And like many great marriages, it ended. I don’t know why it ended. Neither do you. It’s not your business. It’s not my business. It’s theirs.”
“Typical suburban faggot Jew,” he said. “You don’t live here. You’re not an owner. You rent a room. I didn’t invite you to sit down.”
“I invited myself,” I said. “Your unhappiness is your unhappiness. I had nothing to do with it. Whether or not I rent a room isn’t the point. I live here. I. Live. Here. This is my home. As for my Grandfather, he was an imperfect man. But at least he manned-up. He wouldn’t sit in the lobby of his building, or throw a pity party in the lobby of his building, since he was too busy going places, doing things, making deals, taking his wins, taking his losses, moving through the lobby of his building on the way to making his way in the world. He made it. He. Made. It. By the way, you might use the word ‘Jew’ as an insult. But I don’t take it as an insult. I take it as the thing about me on the surface that leads you to believe you know something about me when in reality, you don’t know shit. You can call me a little boy. But in reality, you’re talking to yourself.”
He got up and went outside to smoke, a pacifier.
I sat there, ears burning, heart pounding, talking calmly to another buddy of his, the Ex-President of the Board, who’d been sitting to his left, saying nothing, during the entire confrontation. Like all conversations with board members, this conversation was pointless.
I was using the Ex-President of the Board to give the false impression of calmness, to gather information, to sit there until the guy walked back in the lobby, so I could walk right past him, to the elevator, which was where I was going when this nonsense began.
For the record, this nonsense is precisely why Concealed-Carry is a terrible idea.
In a word: BANG.
A few nights later, I was coming home from another show, late. The same doorman was hanging out with the same guy. I didn’t head for the elevator. I headed straight for his face.
“When I walk in the lobby,” I said, “you shut your little boy mouth. Got it, little boy? Mister Ex-President of the Board told me all about you, little boy. You moved in with Mommy when Mommy got sick. Didn’t you? And when Mommy died, and Mommy’s money ran out, you had to sell the apartment Mommy left for her little boy. Now you’re living here, little boy, for 6 more months, at best, until you’re out on your ass, where you belong, out on your little boy ass, because unlike my Jew Fuck Grandfather, who manned-up, who moved through the lobby of his building on the way to making it, you’ve spent your little boy life being taken care of by Mommy and now that Mommy is in Hell, where Jew Fucks go to fuck little boy Mommys, cuz little boy Mommys like taking it in the ass, in the mouth, in the ass, in the mouth, cuz your Mommy’s pussy reeks of regret and shame and humiliation, since her little boy has amounted to little more than a bully in a lobby.”
“Shame On You,” he said.
We stepped into the elevator. The doorman let us get into the elevator together.
You know why?
Because he’s not a man. He’s a slug who’s been slugging along for 35-years, like a dormant parasite, slugging in the same damn seat, letting the infection of apathy spread until it’s a pandemic like Stand Your Ground.
As we got in the elevator together, the guy reached into his pocket. I felt the fear rise on the back of my neck. I watched, in slow motion, as his hand went into his front right pocket. Was he going to pull out a knife? Was he going to pull out a gun?
He pulled out keys.
“Fuck You,” he said.
I got off on the 7th floor, headed to the room I rent, feeling homeless. But lucky.