It seems, Middy, that I live in a foreign place. Take this, for instance:
The trash can in my local laundromat. I guess this is what they call "trash cans" in foreign places.
I didn't move to this part of Brooklyn expecting Middle America (or even Middy America), but I didn't expect alienation and bafflement, either. Here's an example.
Let me begin by telling you I am one of a minority in my neighborhood. There is a crippled Haitian man with one crutch who sits outside on a folding chair, one block up from me, whenever it's warm. This means that during the spring and summer I walk by him every day on my way home from the train. He tends to call out after me when I pass. Pretty early on, I began to suspect he was either lewd or retarded, because he alternated between saying things like "I like your boots" or "I like your eyes," and saying things that sounded kind of like, "Do you want to fuck me?"
Eventually, he upped his game. He began asking me how I was doing, but he'd add the n-word at the end. Yes, that's right. The n-word. So I would simply hurry by, not knowing if this was a bit of insane (but ultimately forgivable) banter along the lines of "I like your boots; do you want to fuck?," or if it was a form of ridicule so advanced that I should perhaps consider moving.
"Hey, n-word." "How you doing, n-word." This kept up for about a month. Each time, I said nothing; eventually, I felt comfortable glaring. Returning from the cleaners one day, my guard was down. He caught my eye, and seeing his face as he said it revealed what he'd actually been saying (with a somewhat distorting accent) all along. "Hey, neighbor."
P.S. I still feel uncomfortable walking past him, mainly because I can't determine whether he did indeed ask me if I wanted to fuck.