Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dinner with 2 sisters and a baby

I bundled over to my right, trying to block her view. Nee* can get peculiar. And stubborn. The other diners, over my shoulder, were staring at her while she was eating. She was working hard to return the favor. It not only made her uncomfortable and nervous, it made her upset and edgy.

"Maybe," I offered, "they're not used to the sight of a white grown man with two black young women. And a baby."

"It don't matter," she canaried, "they shouldn't be staring at people when they're trying to eat. You wouldn't like that.

"Look, now they're scared."

"Scared of what?"

In hindsight, at this point I should have turned over and waved friendly at the people. Maybe offered them some of our warm and fizzle-free 7-Up. Maybe we would have made some new friends. Or, maybe it would have set some stuff off.

In order to get to talk to either of them, I had to take both of them. Being a male youth worker, and an unmarried one at that, I have to make precautions, especially in this day and age and especially around females. Their cousins wanted to come along too. No. I spend plenty of time with them. And they're already being discipled. Actually, Chi is too. By another new mother in the church.

"Everytime I talk to Jen, my anxiety goes away."

"That's 'cuz she prays with you," Nee offers, pre-staring contest.

"Yeah, it's gone for the whole night. But when I go out, it starts acting up... But it hardly ever happens at church."

"Do you think it's mostly places you're unfamiliar with?"

"Yeah, places I'm not so comfortable."

Not that her home life is all that comfortable. Those who don't believe in spiritual activity would be inclined to say that there is just some sort of shared traumatic history that members of their household went through. I don't know if that element is true or not. And yet, I do not feel free to divulge what I do know. Except that it is genuinely scary. They and their aforementioned cousins have similar dreams, constantly, of a harrowing nature. I would venture to say it's of a demonic nature also.

The girls' father recently re-entered their lives late last year as he realized, partially at least, that grandfatherhood was upon him. I met him and talked with him while we were in the hospital room with Chi and newborn Dawn. But the girls, being raised by an older female relative, are a bit mistrustful of him. I guess I would be too, if my dad had left me for some fifteen years. The other girls' father comes around every once in a while, but is in no state to take care of anyone. I'm amazed they have any trust in me.

"Where are we at? We're at a pizza place with one of our church members," Chi answers her father.

And here I was, worrying about answering my phone during dinner. Of course, it didn't ring.

"Tell him I got a new phone number," Nee tries to edge in.

"Where we at?"

I tell her and she relays the two corners.

"Aww, man. Jason, why didn't you tell him we're some place else?"

"They're not coming. They said it's too far away for them."

Their father lives in the same neighborhood as my brother. But I wondered who "they" were.

"Why didn't you tell him I got a new phone?"

Later I inquired about the baby's father, as Dawn was busy trying to pull everything in her reach to the precipice of danger.

"I talked to him for a little bit. Can't talk long on the phone, though."

"Yeah," I paused at my deep-fried appetizers. "What's the news on his case?"

"They're just holding him. Trying to find some evidence."

Eight months ago, while his baby girl was being born, they were still looking for evidence. In a murder charge. A stupid, unnecessary, thuggish, theiving murder. By the nature of the crime, they should have gotten the evidence by now.

"They say they got two years to find the evidence. Then they let him go."

"Really?" My brows were furrowed by this point. "They're just looking for a scapegoat now. Until somebody turns in the guilty party."

"We see him all the time."

"Walking down the street."

"Supposed to be innocent until proven guilty."

"Seems like he's guilty until proven innocent."

"Yeah." Nee was multi-tasking at this point. Listening and entering the conversation, eating, staring and seething.


"But, why is that?"

"He's a teenager. He's a male. And he's black."

I didn't mention that he probably also may have had a record, a few run-ins with the Blues, ran with the wrong crowd and, until the last couple months before he was tossed away and the baby was expected, was banging and selling.

But they knew that. And they also knew that he was ratted, probably by the perpetrators. And that he wouldn't and couldn't name them. Some damn code of honor. In the meantime, Dawn has never seen her father and may not for a long time. He will not be the same man on the other end.

I think I found my mission for the remainder of my youth pastorate.

*All names, besides mine, have been changed. We ain't in the business of sharing people's business.


Blogger Revolt said...

This is a great story. Just one thing, then I'll read it again and make pertinent comments: I find I'm a little confused as to who's talking at certain moments. Did you color code it according to character...? Let me know!

8:23 PM  
Blogger jasdye said...


9:25 PM  
Blogger jasdye said...

the color coding does do a stand-in job, though. it's a bit lazy story-telling and though i want to retain its tone, et al, as well as the truth and the reality of the evening, i could work harder at it.

just not sure how yet.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Puddleglum said...

I like it. It makes you look pretty uncomfortable, and actually appears to comment more about you than it does about them. Even though it's about them, the jacked-up walked-over youth, you stand out as the white-man-outside-trying-to-get-inside and it's very uncomfortable...i think that's the best word, because the opening part especially draws attention to the situation, and in it, YOU're the one out of place...and it also leads me to think about how sick America still is, and how far-reaching that sickness is when it comes to racism and prejudice. Nice slice.

1:36 PM  
Blogger jasdye said...

i don't know if i'm trying to get in as a white man, per se. more as a man having difficulty understanding even that stand-off between the girls. there's that element of what some of my female youth-worker friends call 'cattiness' that i can only understand from an outsider: they feel threatened, there's only so many resources, there's constant competition that isn't played out in sports and needs to be brought out, etc.

my uncomfortability wasn't so much in talking with them, it was more in that cattiness. i'be known them both for years and they're good kids. but there's that element always coming into play. can't even escape it even if i take them out. that's funny, but also sad (it's also why they're not being discipled with the other young ladies).

and they try to be conciously non-racist. more on that later...

5:50 PM  

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