There’s an elderly – and slightly crazy – man who walks past my apartment almost every day. If it’s warm and the windows are open, he stands on his tiptoes, peeks through the screen, and asks, “Do you want a soda?”
Usually, I don’t… which is convenient since the Soda Man never has any soda with him.
Yesterday I was sitting at the table next to my windows eating dinner when the Soda Man stopped to talk. “Where are you from,” he asked. “Peru?”
For the record, I look as much like a Peruvian as I look like a puppy. This should explain the slight up-turn in my voice when I said, “…no?”
Again, I’m one of those Caucasian hybrids who doesn’t look like he’s from anywhere, the human equivalent of a maple tree. I’m too ordinary to be from anywhere exotic.
Closer, but still a confused “no.” Letting the Soda Man off the hook, I told him, “I’m from the south.”
“Oh,” he exclaimed. “That explains it! I thought you sounded patriotic!”
The only remotely patriotic things I’ve done in the past two years are vote, watch fireworks, and sleep late on Memorial Day. I don’t even turn toward Washington, D.C. when I pray. Maybe I'll feel prouder of my country when my country's government starts acting prouder of its people, treating them all is if they're created equally. Even then, however, I'm not sure I'll want to be identified as a "southern patriot."
I won't waste valuable space on the internet retelling the part of the conversation where the Soda Man asked what I do for a living, but you should know that our talk ended with the question, “Did you write part of the Bible?”
For the record, I didn’t.
When you live in a street-level apartment in Brooklyn and your windows have no curtains, you live in a fishbowl of crazy.