I just had, I think, the nicest moment I’ve ever had with a stranger. I was staring out the window, head on the glass, gazing down at the 20-something Halloween party people, and thinking about the stages of costume. About how kids dress up and get candy, fifteen-year-olds wear their regular clothes – maybe a mask on the top of their heads – and expect candy, and young real people dress up really lavishly and get wasted. I saw what looked like a Slutty Eskimo, and I was thinking of a stand-up bit, about costume stages, about how long can this slut stuff go on.
And then I was thinking about how I keep thinking in stand-up lately. (White people need instructions, that’s how to make a hit song. Instructions for a dance. The Electric Slide, The Hustle, The Macarena, The Soulja Boy. We’re not like black people. Black people are real. That’s why they all dress the same and walk the same and say the same things and even stand the same. [big laugh] I’m sorry, I don’t really feel this way … and I know I better not talk this way! [bigger laugh!] No no, seriously though, I don’t think that political correctness is a bad thing. I think it really has helped black people, and women, you know, approach something like equality. But it really must have been nice when they would cook you dinner and clean up the house for you … Black people, I mean [kills!].)
Then I thought about how I was pretty sure I’ve heard the Slutty Eskimo bit before. Turns out it’s a real costume, not just a joke. Then a woman on the sidewalk looked up and our eyes met. A little older than me, normal clothes. I smiled my instinctual, eye-contact-with-a-stranger half smile. I was at work. At work, you smile at every person you see, and that’s how they know you work there.
I don’t know if it was the skeleton shirt I had on, or the way I must have looked like a kid in detention watching the other kids at recess, but she smiled back. And I smiled big. And she smiled big too. And then I got embarrassed and looked at a manhole, but I was still smiling.
This is the pumpkin my roommates and I made.