It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. How you doin’?
I spent last evening enjoying Timbers soccer for the first time. I dropped in on Rain for an impromptu Saturday night visit, and since NASCAR had pre-empted COPS we channel-surfed. The Timbers game had started, so I propped up in her bed and watched the game in glorious big-screen TV. The 50-inch monitor in front of her bed makes it feel like you’re sleeping in a movie theater. I had a little something of a naturopathic-medical variety, and offered the lady a puff.
A few minutes later, I noticed she’d been watching soccer for ten minutes straight.
She laughed. “That’s some good weed, hon. I hate soccer. Usually. I see why they call it medicine. I do feel better! Sheeeee-it…”
“I guess we’re official Portlanders now. We’re sitting around getting stoned and watching PDX soccer on a Saturday night.”
“Pfft.” Was her response.
I watched the game while she putzed about. Later, I wandered the warm spring night. Rain lives next door to Jeld-Wenn Field, so it was weird to watch the game and not leave the building to mayhem on the street. (Timbers played in LA. Lost.)
Meg’s neighborhood? It’s still in transition, and that can be awkward sometimes.
Meg lives in the West End, near uppity bars and a new wave of Portlandia-inspired shops, boutiques, etc… The TV shows Leverage and Grimm both film within blocks of her hotel. In my ventures to and fro, I have encountered snarky feedback and comments, coming both from the crazy motherfuckers that live in and around Meg’s low-income rent-subsidized crazy house, and the residents of the shiny new eco-friendly monstrosity with the now-closed wine bar and the place that sells $9 cups of cacao. I’m not crazy enough for the mentals, and too clean for the Entitled. “Look Madison, there’s a bum that knows how to shower!” “Do you think we should offer him our leftovers?” “Jesus, who let Chewbacca out?” Those were all things I’ve overheard walking past folks who spend more money at Starbucks than I make in a week.
The other side of the coin? The street people know me, see me around. Ne’er-do-wells from the stores give me a wide berth. Those who like me offer friendly catcalls. Grimm fans stare, wondering if I’m this week’s werewolf… Stuttering Richard must live nearby. I’ll be giving Meg a goodbye kiss and he’ll walk past, muttering “Bool…bool…” (Bull. When he says my Xtian name it becomes an eight-syllable word.)
When I’d left Meg’s night before last, I had another oddball encounter. I’d consumed a magic cupcake and smoked a bunch, so I was in the perfect mood for a goofy no-destination-other-than-home-eventually walk in the light rain. Except… some skinny shaved-headed white dude clutching three plastic garbage bags full of his worldly possessions was following me. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if he hadn’t been yelling “GO WHITE BOY, GO!” at the top of his lungs. I stopped at the corner, giving him time to catch up. He slowed, wanting to insult me from a distance.
“GO WHITE BOY, GO! GO WHITE BOY! GO LIKE G.I. JOE! GO WHITE BOY!”
I listened to him as I kept walking. His voice faded into the night. His taunting didn’t hurt nearly as much as the douchebag who called me Chewbacca…
So my dingy, once-rugged neighborhoods are turning into where the beautiful people play. Cool. Welcome! But remember, some of us were here first. Some of us drank on these sidewalks before there were cute little tables with umbrellas and dudes with mussy hair charging $6 a beer to sit there. There’s no need to walk five abreast down the sidewalk, we will give you credit for having an entourage. You want to give me money because you feel sorry for me? Hell yeah! But I don’t want to finish your cigarette. Those things are bad for you. Besides, I have my own. My cigarettes are better than yours. They were grown locally, and are so much better for the soul than tobacco.
So good, in fact, that I was even enjoying soccer for a little bit last night…