can you imagine?

 

CHARACTERS:

Player 1: A redhead wearing the short sleeve cashmere cardigan (in heather algae) and cropped matchstick jeans (in white denim) from J Crew. 

Player 2: A blonde in a yoga outfit with a golden retriever named Buddha on a leather leash.

(It would be just wrong to assume that these are just stereotypical rich white women.  They may look and sound and smell like rich white women, but you never know.  They may have made some lousy investments.  Just because the redhead’s pants are blinding white doesn’t mean she is and, after all, she might have waited for them to go on sale.  That dazzler on her finger was a gift, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t earn it, or didn’t deserve it.  They might have once waited tables at a crummy restaurant or had a great, great grandmother who claimed to be part Miwok, or made out with a black guy at a party in college.  They probably voted for Obama.  They might have childhood memories of having to wear “floods” to school or eating tv dinners or disappointing Christmases.  Maybe life wasn’t always so easy.  Everyone has their own challenges to face.  Things are always more complicated than they appear.)

SETTING:

It’s another mild and sweet-smelling day at The Depot, an outdoor café in downtown Mill Valley, a boutique town in southern Marin, one of the most affluent counties in North America.  In the background plays a guitar strummed by a rich kid dressed as a rumpled rapper.  A couple of old men play chess on the edge of square and tow-headed children chase grackles across the red bricks. 

DIALOGUE: 

Player 1: What do you think about this?  (She gestures to the newspaper and they both pause to read for a moment.)

Player 2: They want to extend the BART train to Marin?  Didn’t we already vote against that?

Player 1: Yeah. We did. But they’re still trying.

Player 2:  I’ve never even been on BART.  Is it anything like the Metro?

Player 1:  I don’t think so. The Metro is Art Nouveau but BART is sort of 1970s funky. It has this nasty stained carpeting. (Wrinkles her nose and takes a little vial of antibacterial lotion from her purse, rubs it into her hands.)  You know, public transportation. 

Player 2:  But it’s good for people who need to go to the city?  For work or shopping, maybe?

Player 1: My housekeeper takes the bus.  It seems to work out just fine for her. 

Player 2:  I’m not political, I’m just wondering. 

Player 1:  I’m not political either.  I don’t really care if it passes, but I worry about the environment.  I mean, have you ever been to Market Street?  That place is filthy.  And Oakland?  I don’t know why we’d ever need to go to Oakland. 

Player 2:  I suppose a train might save gas.  Are there any good stores in Oakland? 

Player 1:  I just wonder why they’d want to come over here.  I mean, what do we have here that they can’t get in their own city?

Player 2:  Maybe they’d go to the mall or the farmer’s market.  Or maybe they’d do some kind of recreation, like bike riding or hikes on the mountain?

Player 1:  I’m not racist, but can you imagine?  (Both women pause to imagine.)

(A BART train pulls into the square.  The doors open and out spills a throng of lanky black boys wearing sly expressions, wife-beater tank tops, and saggy pants, headed toward the neighborhoods, leaving a wake of used condoms, empty bottles in paper bags, and fat wads of chewed gum behind.  Some homeless guy is simultaneously peeing at the foot of a tree and painting graffiti on a parked car.  A big brown family sets up a barbeque and a radio on the chess table and soon, the air is full of bouncy Mexican music and the smell of lighter fluid.  Jehovah’s witnesses start walking door-to-door.  A sullen white girl with a tattoo of a syringe on her neck grabs one of the tow-headed kids by the neck and starts whispering in his ear.  A teenaged whore crawling with crabs, lice, and cockroaches starts flirting with the kid playing guitar and before long, they’re naked and rolling around on the bricks. A pit bull tears out of the train with its jaws wide open, headed straight for Buddha, the golden retriever.  A soundtrack of thumping bass, breaking glass, gunshots, and screaming in the distance.  Magenta mixed with bright orange and cobalt blue, murals, poetry, placards, history lessons, angry words, and demands for change.  Guilt that fixes you with its eyes and won’t look away. Empty hands held outstretched, balled into fists, or giving you the finger. Beautiful brown women wearing their own styles or the designer you can’t afford or the one you can but when she wears it, she looks so much better, humming songs and standing there in front of you like she has god in her pockets, like she couldn’t care less what you think.)

Player 2:  (Petting her dog.)  But it’ll never happen.  It just couldn’t.

Player 1:  You’re right.  But can you imagine?

*

*

*

About girl in the hat

aka Anna Fonté, writer of novels, short stories, personal essays, and bits about the neighborhood crows. The things I write want you to look at them.

2 comments

  1. “…more complicated than they appear.” Yes, and yet still so much the same. I’ve encountered these women, too, many times before, in surreal moments of unpleasant “urban” poetry when their vacuous thoughts were written all over their faces just as clearly and vividly. They didn’t look quite the same as they do here, but their penchant for distasteful discourse was in full use, and on display. I stared them down from my corner, lobbing my percolating disgust directly into their eyes, like bombs, until their irrational fears swept them off to whatever safe place they pretend is theirs. I wanted them to learn by falling, and tearing, and scabbing, over and over. I wanted them to lose the unearned influence of their pale skin. But I went on with satisfaction only in the moment that I made them sweat.

    Thanks Anna. Your images were masterful, and I felt something raw open up in me.

  2. Thank you, Re! Honestly, I didn’t know if I had the guts to post this one, so I’m releived to see your comment. It is rather raw, isn’t it? I was feeling very upset about some political/social issues in our neighborhood, then about the whole Japan/tsunami/nuclear disasters, and feeling–your word is best, RAW, when I wrote it and I decided, oh well, might as well put it all out there. So to have your comment bounce right back to me made me feel very… What’s the opposite of raw? Healed? soothed? So thank you!!!

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