He muttered something at me as he walked past, but I couldn't understand a word he said. He fired a few more slack jawed unpleasantries across my bow, but I still couldn't decipher his words. His tone...now that I could clearly understand. It wasn't warm and fuzzy. He then stood by his car and kept muttering. This time I could tell he was inviting me over for a fight.
I stood there for a moment, looking at him in disbelief. I have no problem with well placed aggression. No problem at all, but this kid was way out of line. So what was I going to do about it?
Here's how this little incident developed. I was enjoying a nice meal with my wife and five friends at a great restaurant in Cole Harbour. One couple left a little early so when we finally wiped the crumbs of dessert from the corners of our mouths and left en masse, there were just five of us. Two guys, three girls. Much of our conversation over dessert involved skateboarding, so when we got outside I cracked open the trunk of my car to display my current collection of boards.
My friends are no shrinking violets so of course the boards came out and we skated around the 10 p.m. parking lot. As it was Sunday evening, the place was relatively quiet. Next door to the restaurant was a Needs convenience store, no doubt open long after the restaurant closed. A clean white sedan pulled into the parking lot, with four young adults pouring out onto the pavement. They homed their way into the store, toward the objects of their desire. We continued to skateboard around the parking lot.
Upon returning to the car, the driver side passenger decided to begin a dialogue with me.
I looked him up and down. He was wearing a tasteful white jacket, puffy, as though filled with goose down. His jeans were trendy and sagged enough in the ass to allow ample room for his genitals, my genitals, his father's genitals, and a Fisher-Price play set. You know the pants I'm talking about, the one's where the crotch ends at the knee caps. I happen to love the style, though have yet to buy a pair for myself. This kid, probably about twenty years old, was well dressed. He didn't look like he came from the other side of the tracks.
My very simple reply to him was "what?" I thought he might have wanted to try my skateboard, which I would have been happy to accommodate. Share the stoke...always!
It quickly became obvious that he didn't want to be my friend. This pissed me off and I went from happy Ian to Neanderthal Ian. All men have it in them, I suspect. My brain went into lock down mode and I began to assess the situation in very basic terms. Four of them, one of me. Not good odds. Even with my male friend, a solid guy, it was still two to one. We weren't 'packing' anything more dangerous than skateboards, which everyone knows are only dangerous to the users.
Cole Harbour has a history of racial tension. It's been documented for a long time. Life isn't one continuous Sidney Crosby Stanley Cup parade down Portland Street where everyone hugs and makes up. I know that people don't always get along, but picking fights for no good reason makes me feel like, well, fighting. This is what really pisses me off, because it makes no sense. We should know better, after all that we've been through together.
"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." Martin Luther King, Jr.
Perhaps it's time to speak up?
I am not a racist. I've never been one, and I don't appreciate being singled out because I'm white. I was born white, you were born black. What's the big deal? From where I stand, I think that we all came from the same place. I choose to believe that we have evolved over the millenia, and that we probably all started off in Africa together, a long time ago. My people lost their dark pigmentation by heading to northern 'hoods. We're just products of our environment, which was made painfully obvious in Cole Harbour.
There have been atrocities carried out on your people (my people, too, since we are all in this together). It's unthinkable that one race tried to enslave the other. I can hardly believe that it happened just a few generations ago, or that we're all still suffering from the actions of our ancestors. I'm embarrassed for what humans have done, but I'd like to think that we can move forward. Anger is a wasted emotion. The Vikings came to Scotland and raped and pillaged my people, but I've managed to overcome any lingering hatred. I've even sung along to Abba, and sat comfortably in a chair called POÄNG.
Even if you choose to believe in the Christian concept of a god creating us in his image, we're still coming from the same place. We are equal as far as I'm concerned. Again, it's a shame that we've made a mess of it, but let's move forward without jabs.
It a very risky proposal to pick a fight with someone you don't know. Like you, I'm both physically and mentally capable of a an incredible amount of evil, but I make a conscious choice not to go there. It's a place for losers, not one, but two.
Next time I'm in Cole Harbour, you should try my skateboard.