Saturday, March 05, 2011

[A More Perfect Union] Crash

One of my favorite movies is CRASH. From the writing, the actors that portrayed the diverse characters and how each of those characters interact with each other in such a hostile environment to the symbolism of what each person represents. While we move around crashing into each other’s live, how many times have we take stock in what we are crashing into. The main reason I love the movie is because it is relatable when it comes to the topic of race. The reality is every person has some sort of racial prejudice inside of them. They might not want to admit it, but it’s there. Only when we acknowledge it can it be address and we as a society can move forward.

Late this summer, I linked up with a two of my friends Andre* and Jake* so we could go to this bar called the Iron Horse down by the South Street Seaport in the city. It’s a cool place with a very chilled atmosphere and mixed ethnic crowd. Now my friends were celebrating their last day at our job and I was along for the ride. We were basically getting nice and tight. Drinks were flowing, the mood was right and the bartender, a young curvy Asian woman was on the bar swing giving everyone a show while pouring drinks in some of the patrons mouths. Try to picture a coyote ugly theme… and yeah there was a school yard like swing on the bar. So it’s about midnight or so. I was maybe on my second rum and coke, while Andre and Jake were spinning the shots wheel and shooting down whatever the little peg stopped at. Even though I secretly wanted to do the shots wheel as well, I thought it would be best if I didn’t go over board since I had to be at work later that day. I have to admit, we were an odd trio. Andre is Puerto Rican, three apples high, skinny and unapologetically gay. Jake, also three apples high, African American, straight, very mild mannered and cock diesel. He is the type of guy where you might think he is not going to do nothing in a fight until all of a sudden he body slams 3 dudes at once.

Between midnight and 1am, Andre and I went out outside to smoke a cigarette and get some cool air. While I was sitting on the cement fence next to the front door, Andre was very drunk venting about all the pent-up feelings he had, when his OCD kicked in and plucked a lint ball from on top of my head. Right in front of us was this guy who laughed. By looking at him, he was short about 5’8 and you can say he was maybe in his early - mid 30’s, chubby the nerdy black rimmed glasses. He wasn’t African-American, Caucasian or Latino. My first thought was he could be Middle Eastern, but I didn’t want to jump to any real conclusion. Andre asked him what was so funny in a polite way and he mumbled an answer. An answer that I thought I heard, but no… I thought it had to be a mistake in what he said. So I asked him to repeat himself and he said the said the same thing. “You two look like Gorillas in the mist” That second time he said the remark snapped me out of my good mood. I thought of all the world horrors happening to him and him alone after I snapped his the jaw in half. I stood up, towering over him with my fist clenched. Gave him a dirty look and walked off, because knowing myself I would’ve made things worse if I had stayed. At first Andre didn’t understand what was going on, he followed me down the block asking if I was okay and I told him that I was good and just needed a moment to calm down. Before I could finish my cigarette, the man came towards me apologies asking if we were cool. I told him yeah, but he needed to get away from me. In that moment I was the bigger person… well in maturity that is. He walked off back to the front of the bar where Andre was and moments later I followed suit.

At this point, Andre and this man started to go out it. Trading barbs and insults with each statement escalating the emotions between the two. Andre face was turning red, hell his whole chest was turning red… Did I mention he was shirtless? …because that’s kind of important, but a whole other story which will remain untold on this blog. The man showed that didn’t understand what he said was wrong and instead of thinking before he spoke to us or accepting the fact that what he said was entirely wrong, he wanted to try and prove a point and be a complete ASS! As the man started to defend his comment to us, I really, really wanted to hit the dude, however my main focus was making sure no one (especially my friends) got into trouble, starting a fight or ending up doing something extremely stupid and be thrown in jail, so I grab Andre and dragged him inside.

While the night continued, things cooled down. Andre was for all intensive purposes GONE in drunken joy, Jake was enjoying the view of the female bartenders and I was trying to let the earlier event go, but I could feel the man’s eyes on me every now and then. At the bar, I ordered my 4th rum and coke and I looked around for Andre, wondering where this little Puerto Rican went. You know when you get that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach? I started to get that feeling and headed to the front of the bar where I could see the man and Andre once again getting into a heated argument. I rushed outside and stood in between them. If this dude took a swing I wanted to make sure that I protected Andre since he was smaller than the guy and weighed less, but I didn’t know then like I know now that he could take care of it himself. I tried to maneuver him away, which was difficult because his drunken state made him quite squirrely.

Less than 10 minutes after getting back into the bar for the second time, I was sitting with Jake at a table next to the jukebox telling him what happen outside while Andre was dancing/grinding on some woman at the end of the bar (A whole other story as well), when suddenly the man came up to us extending his hand trying to be friends. Jake gave me this look. “Is that the dude?” He asked. I nodded. The man looked at Jake and kind of froze up. Remember, when I said Jake was diesel? Yeah… I don’t think the man realize how big Jake was until he approached us.

This had become the last straw to me and I really didn’t care at this point about hurting feelings. I told him to: Just fucking leave me alone before I get really upset. He held his hands up as if to give up and walked away. Thankfully that was the last time I had seen him. After that night I became good friends with Andre and Jake and even though we are all leading separate happy lives, we meet up now and then and enjoy the time. While last year taught me a few lessons, the most important one being that even someone I might have the MOST in common with (from career goals to social surroundings) can try and will, stab you in the back or try to sabotage everything you are trying to do, I learned that we are all crashing into each other for a reason. Sometimes that reason is unclear to us at first… Many times people and I am including myself, do not recognize how important the every event is to us, since it defines who we are and what we stand for. Now, I don’t believe the man was a racist all, but maybe his lightly intoxicated state allowed certain thoughts to project from his inner being. I was glad that I used better judgment in dealing with the situation and it taught me that when confronted, even with a clouded mind, I can avoid the urge to strike and go down to there level.

*The names were changed to protect their own individual identity

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