Linguist, lexicographer, writer, editor, broadcaster

All Hidin Out and Shit

I forget sometimes what it is I like so much about the shared public space in New York City. So much that happens in the Big Living Room, as I think of it, is hard to bear. Stupid people shouting for no reason (and they’re all stupid people: the stupidest person anywhere is also the loudest). Horns honking for no reason. Large people standing in the way, on steps, lighting cigarettes. Trash galloping merrily down the street, pushed by the wind of over-large automobiles running red lights, or stretching yellows. Doofuses who just drop candy wrappers and napkins (and they’re all doofuses: the doofiest person anywhere is also the laziest). But what I like about the Big Living Room is the brief glimpses of other lives which are so little like my own. On the subway headed uptown yesterday, there were two young black women, dressed in hip-hop clothes. One was thin, standing with low-hanging jeans, a yellow bandana skull-cap-tied under a baseball cap, a Yankees jacket over the top of everything. From the back she looked like a boy. On the bench in front of her sat a very large woman in white sweat suit with a navy pinstripe down the side. A yellow bandanna, big silver earrings. The big woman did all the talking. She’d advance and retreat, working herself up into a lather. She’d start from her seat as if she was about to rise, but it was only to emphasize her points. The girl standing held onto the overhead pole and nodded assent and understanding at all the right moments. A Chinese man sitting right by pretended to read his Chinese newspaper. The conversation sounded like an argument: and it was. But it was a reported argument, replayed with the same vigor with which it had been originally been had, the recounting hurting not at all for the chance to resay particularly effective insults and rejoinders, and to say things which should have been said, but hadn’t. But then she got to the heart of her anger. “She know I can go out with anybody I want to. She’s like all fucking proud uh herself and her clothes. Shit any motherfucker can get that. I throw away better than she wears. Ain’t just anybody can get a piece uh just anybody. Evybody think they so much, but they ain’t. She call me and ask me for fucking money then she don’t call me like I ain’t never been her girlfriend like we don’t know each other. I don’t need her and her bitchy friends. How many people go out with someone who ain’t admit they a lesbian? She act like she all doing me a favor and shit. I don’t need no favors. Evybody know I’m a lesbian. They all know. An I give her a call all the time, all the damn time. I’m the one evybody wants. Who was it went out with Michelle and Shari? Who was it? It was me. I had told her I don’t need no favors. But then she call me like I’m the one sitting at home. I go out all the time. All the time I go out, she sitting at home. Girl, you a lesbian, so just be one. Ain’t nobody gonna go out with you if you ain’t gonna admit it. All hidin out and shit. Evybody knows anyway.”

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Grant Barrett