So I’m walking down Court Street in Brooklyn during evening rush when I spot a seven-year-old white girl lying, flat on her back, on the sidewalk. Within seconds three older black women had gathered around her.
“Is she okay?”
“Where’s her parents?
“Should we call someone?”
“You okay, baby?”
The girl wasn’t hurt. She was just staring up at the sky. I started to take out my phone, but her father–your typical white Brooklyn business dude–was suddenly there.
“She’s mine,” he said, slightly exasperated.
All eyes turned to him as if to say, “Really?”
He sighed. Maybe she was having a fit. Maybe he’d threatened to leave her there to prove a point. But what he said next almost made me laugh.
“Honey, you want to explain to these ladies why you’re lying on the sidewalk?” He said it in that tone that a certain class of Brooklyn parents use. You know the one–the one that assumes children are rational human beings (stretching out on a dirty Brooklyn sidewalk a clear indicator of rational thought).
The black women looked at him as if to say, “You have clearly lost your mind and lost control of the situation.”
But we all shrugged and walked away. We were probably all thinking along the same lines. “What’s the world coming to?” I may be white, but I’m a white boy from the South and have had my share of ass-whuppin’s, including many done with a crepe myrtle switch on bare legs. One of the things I feared most was the humiliation (and pain) of a public whipping. It would never have even crossed my mind to pull that sidewalk stunt.
If I had tried it, she’d have counted to three. If she arrived at three and I was still down there? She would have snatched me up by the hair and dragged me home while saying, “You just wait till I get you home. You just wait.” Over and over.
And then, when we got home, the real fun would have begun.
Shit. Kids these days.
Wait. Kids? No. Let me rephrase that. Parents these days.