It’s been a while since we’ve gone swimming and the pool is closed now and the guy probably doesn’t blog, so I feel relatively safe writing about him, the locker room guy at the public pool, that is.
Picture this. A stubby little man, maybe five feet tall, shaved head, including eyebrows. The hair on his head has been replaced by a skull tattoo – and sundry others; the hair on his chinny-chin has been replaced by a Maori (I'm guessing) tribal design; the hair on his pierced brow ridge has been replaced by the tattoo “white” on his right (left as you’re reading) and “pride” on his left (right as you’re reading). My reason for the parentheses is that he would have seemed oh-so-much tougher if it had been reversed because then it would have appeared that he did it himself, assisted only by a mirror and the copious amounts of alcohol he admittedly consumes.
As in, “Let’s face it, I’m an alcoholic.”
What prompts people to say stuff like this to me is beyond me, other than that I appear to be listening.
Most of our “conversations” involved the usual small talk about one’s well-being, which for him invariably meant a lack of sleep because of late drinking and getting some new tattoos from his buddies.
Now, the neighborhood we and pool find ourselves in is rather mixed, and the pool itself is closer to some projects than to our gentrified neck of the borough. In other words, “white pride” is a surefire conversation starter with the general population there. Incidentally, our friend had, surprise, surprise, done some time, too. But the conversations that got started by the black kids seemed to involve unfriendly comments. Imagine. The high point, apparently, involved an accusation by the kids involving a sexual crime and the guy’s sister. This apparently hit too close to home, so to speak, because his brother seems to be doing time for that exact activity. Imagine.
After the incident, the guy told me that he was willing to “kill the little &%s” because they seemed to have crossed a line. Instead of what he would have considered forgivable manslaughter, he got a time-out. In other words, the security staff and the cop on duty put him in a little room until he calmed down. But he’s claustrophobic.
In his words, “Fire me or kick me in the teeth, but don’t lock me in a &%!ing room. You know what I mean?”
Ah, New York.
PS Last week I saw him on the playground cleanup crew, but they rotate, so I think I’m done running into him.