Monday, June 15, 2009

The City of Brotherly Gangbangs

If I were displaced into last Friday, I would find myself riding shotgun to my fathers Sunday morning granny driving. Of course, to meet my charity quota for the week, or perhaps to tag yet another item to the list of tax right-off’s, I agreed to accompany him on his lusty voyage of retrieving yet another online bought thing-a-ma-bobber. Yes, its true, the iconic nymf of eBay, seduced him by the hips of his tragic flaw: the need for excessive gadgetry… at cheap prices.

This booty call was located in the heart of Philadelphia, which after living there the past semester, I was eager to go for nostalgic purposes and the promise of cheese steaks. Upon navigating my dad and I throughout University City, the directions appeared to suggest a westward trajectory another two miles from the outskirts of the aesthetically beautiful. Ut-oh.

Sure enough, we came to our destination in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia. This was not the city of brotherly love, this was the hood of brotherly gangbangs, and I found myself not wanting to get out of the car. To make things worse, the skies let out showers of bullets and went Rambo on the windshield. Right then it seemed absurd to me that we didn’t have bullet proof windows. Or umbrellas. (What do we live in, a fantasy world under a volcanic arc of pumice?) Thank you oh gracious Ghetto for welcoming us so ghastly. But where is my celebratory-bullet-proof-thermodynamic-helmet? Instead I threw up my hood and zipped the jacket all the way until I yelled at if for not covering my face. My damn countenance was compromised.

It’s moments like those that I wish I carried a weapon with me in my purse; something accessible like a teaser, or a can of mace, or an uncircumcised penis (I might as well be the one to put ‘dic’ in ‘predicament’). I would sword fight my adversaries to the genital death. And it would be glorious. Call me Mufasa, baby, cuz I’m king of the jungle! Oh wait, Mufasa gets killed by Scar fairly early in the film. Scratch that.

The exterior d├ęcor of the ghetto hails the same universally: decaying buildings with a noticeably structural slant, boarded up windows acting as storm shutters and built in security systems , a thick film of dirt covering the stucco as makeshift wallpaper, and generic condom wrappers decorating the flat of the sidewalks with a half buried syringe hiding under the debris like it’s the prize of the cracker jack box (although, I’m not sure that “cracker” is an accurate description for this part of town). That was a freakishly long sentence.

Gulp. The urban salesman approached us from his 1990’s white suburban. I glanced twice to see if anyone was in the backseat shackled or wearing furry handcuffs. He met my gaze and slid his thumb underneath his flat brimmed baseball cap while his index finger skimmed the top. Gulp.

My father and I had surveyed the premises, trying to find an entrance to his store. A tattered sign, that looked like it was made in an arts and crafts workshop for nursing mothers, hung above our drenched heads. It read “Black Caesar’s Clothing” Is this like a black Jesus thing? I was unsure of the exact meaning or reference but I shrugged if off. I’ve never believed the stereotypical white Jesus paintings anyway, so maybe there is truth to this black Caesar. Or maybe Caesar is just the name of the store owner?

The man greeted us by executing a firm hand shake, or grip really. He squeezed my fingers like a stress ball in an exercise of phalange rehabilitation. Ugh, owe! “Excuse the mess”, he said as he opened a small gate that extended from the store front into a narrow alleyway. The ground looked like it was attacked by a fraternity rave; litter covered almost every square inch of cement. Do I have to go in there?

My dad and the salesman disappeared into a doorway down the alley. Not an ideal place for me to get shot. What about the Ritz Carlton off South Broad Street? They have clean floors, antibacterial soap and soft toilet paper for me to wipe my butt .Hey, and you can even wash that gun residue off your hands afterward. I walked toward the doorway, peeked in and saw a dark, steep, narrow staircase. I couldn’t hear any voices. Gulp. (Where am I getting all this saliva from anyway?)
I let out a little symphony of flatulence (One of Beethoven’s best) and walked up the stairs, cell phone video camera rolling, my bowels swimming the 100 meter butterfly in my stomach. Of course now I have to poop, badly like I used to before my swim meets. Why couldn’t I go before we left!

“Ughhahumumble ha hugh ugh fa lalalalala la la la la.” I couldn’t decode the dialogue said, just jumbled noises echoed through the walls. I knew I‘d recognize a gun shot since I had recently lived in north Philadelphia for five months. Shootings were more frequent than car back fires on Broad Street and rolls of toilet paper in my apartment.

As I reared left at the top of the stairs, an open doorway let me into a small room with slanted, laminate flooring dressed in black and white checkers. The cracks were wildly noticeable, and my feet refused to step on them for fear of falling through the floorboards to hell via septic tank. Before any more irrational fears plagued me, my father walked out of a tiny closet in the back of the room. He was holding some end of a contraption, while walking backwards. Our beloved salesman walked forward carrying the other end. The two of them struggled down the stairs but eventually made it to the car and unloaded the beast.

“Wow, you’re younger than I thought” Sales said as he shook my fathers hand and closed the trunk. He then turned to me without warning and squeezed the lactic acid out of my hand. (You know, the one exhausted and over exercised from holding my cell phone in case the police needed to be contacted). The number 911 was even pre-dialed. I just needed to hit send.
“Yeah, what a pleasure!’ I agreed “This was awesome”. (Whenever I say something is ‘awesome’ I do not mean it is actually awesome. I am merely drawing, from the sheath, the sharpest weapon I have: sarcasm).

On the ride home, I watched the traffic build on the other side of the median. I stared at the billboards and advertisements which all seemed to point me to anxiety medications and sedatives. Ok, so maybe I overreacted at what could have been a bad situation but turned out fine. My father didn’t seem to mind that he could have been swindled out of 600 bucks. Especially, since we don’t even know if the dang thing works. No, he seemed calm; telling me about his theories of autism’s many causes. He sited many references from the source of his new knowledge, The Sound of Falling Snow. I continued to stare out the window; convincing myself that, The Sound of Yellow Snow would have made a funnier title and wondering what idiot invented the sanction of steak and cheese wiz.

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