You see real New York neighbors don't borrow cups of flour. Shotguns, butcher knives, the occasional large bore naval cannon, sure; New York roaches ain't going down like punks to some Raid aerosol spray. But flour?
She claimed that she needed the flour because she was 'baking' something with her daughter. Indeed she even brought a small child-like creature with her to the door. As I greeted them the "child" looked up at me with big blue eyes that said either "Cwould you hwelp me mwake some bwonies?" or "I'm watching you, fat boy" depending on your interpretation. She was carrying some sort of stuffed bunny rabbit or other marsupial* and comporting herself as one would expect a toddler to. She was good, I'll give her that.
The mother smiled broadly and refused to be dissuaded by my being dressed like a war refugee from some country where they don't have detergent, nor by whatever stench was wafting off me after spending a day in an un-air conditioned apartment.
"If you have some flour we'd sure appreciate it" she said, beaming.
"Fuck the police coming straight from the underground, a young nigger got it bad 'cause I'm brown" said my computer.
Perhaps I should explain.
See when the doorbell rang I'd been writing, and listening to a 80's-90's hip-hop mix on my computer. I'd thought it was just a porter coming to tell me the water was back on so I didn't bother to turn the music down before answering the door, especially since the song that had been playing was "Walk This Way" by Run-D.M.C./Aerosmith, a relatively innocuous and inoffensive tune.
When making music mixes I subscribe to the "Mix things up theory" so I'd decided to follow up "Walk This Way" with "Fuck Tha Police," a fun and clever juxtaposition, I'd thought at the time. That was until the song started playing while I talked to the mother and daughter spy pair.
To their credit neither of them showed so much as a crack in their smiles as the song played on. I paused for a second, flushing a little red, and said "Uhh, I'll look to see if we have any."
"Fuck that shit 'cause I ain't the one for a punk motherfucker with a badge and a gun to be beating on, or throwing in jail. We can go toe to toe in the middle of a cell" said Ice Cube.
At that moment I had a choice to make. I could go turn down the music, thus saving this precious young girl from exposure to lyrics that wouldn't be appropriate for her until she was at LEAST 7, or I could pretend that I couldn't hear the music either and we could all do this little dance of denial together.
I went the coward route; it was a good call.
I walked quickly back into the apartment, heading for the cupboards to find the white powder they so desperately needed while Ice Cube serenaded us with "Searching my car, lookin' for the product, thinking every nigger is selling narcotics."
As I turned the corner of the foyer they were still standing at the door, smiling broadly. Did my neighbor order a Stepford family recently? What was going on?
As I rummaged quickly through cupboards, crowded with two year old jars of olives and more mango chutney than the world could ever find a use for, I imagined what they were doing back there. Was there a concealed camera in the stuffed marsupial?** Was little Betsy Wetsy out there shimmying through the vents to my room to take pictures of installations vital to national security. (Okay, most of what's in my room is old soda-cans and some very crusty underwear that's vital to national security only in that if it were disposed of by a qualified professional the chances of biological attack would drop precipitously, but still.) I banged around in the cupboards searching wildly and calling out "I'm not sure where it is" while Ice Cube continued his discourse on late '80s law-enforcement/civilian relationships in the greater Los Angeles area:
"Beat a police out of shape and when I finish bring the yellow tape, to tape off the scene of the slaughter"
While grabbing wildly at unseen objects in the back of one of the upper shelves my hand encountered a soft bag of something and I pulled it out. It was flour, from circa the Eisenhower administration. Where it usually says "enriched" it said "Now unrationed." I breathed a sigh of relief and said to myself the words I've long dreamed of hearing from a woman*** in reference to myself.
"Good enough." I said. "Good enough."
"I don't know if they fags or what, search a nigger down and grabbin' his nuts" said Mr. Cube.
I returned to the doorway-of-eternal smiles and rendered unto them the flour.
"This is all I could find, I don't know if it's still good" I said. They smiled.
"Thanks, that's fine. There's usually an expiration date" said the mother. The daughter looked at me with her big blue eyes. There was no mistaking it this time. "I'm watching you, fat boy."
Cheerily they turned and went back to their apartment across the hall.
"A young nigger on the warpath and when I finish it's gonna be a bloodbath, of cops dying in LA" said Cube, by way of farewell. I shut the door.
So what did I learn from this encounter? My neighbors are spies. Spies love the N.W.A. or at least are trained not to react to it. I'm being watched.
Rabbits are not marsupials.
Next time I'm just shouting "NO FLOUR HERE" and slamming the door in their faces. I can't deal with a mother daughter team of congenital smilers. Never again.
*rabbits are not marsupials.
**RABBITS are NOT marsupials