Monthly Archives: June 2013


Mid-morning on a late spring day. St Bart’s Church. A place of refuge. It is empty. I wander in and sit on a chair. A place to rest. From up ahead, I hear pagan music. I feel home. By the altar, a small group of people are practicing tai chi. I am reconnected with my ancestors, the sound and energy of my people, who honored and lived in harmony with the way, before voluntarily or forcibly giving it all up for organized religion and defined, dogmatic gods. I am aware of the irony of this space and other such spaces – I am sitting in a beautiful church, a monument to life undiluted, unlimited, undefined, whose architecture soars above the limited religious message that some might  choose to leave with, as often was the case in the churches of my childhood. It has been a lifetime since I detested and dreaded being confined to the beautiful architecture of places such as this, places which represented at one time my battle for self-expression with religious forces within family and community. I no more have points to prove, platforms to prop up or demolish – with Christianity or any other organized religion. People do what they do because they don’t know any better or any different. The architecture within St. Bart’s transports me to another time. A mosquito rests on my shirt. A fellow traveler with a trolley bag strolls in and sits down. More visitors. Soon, I leave this beautiful pagan space. A few blocks away, a baby in a carriage tugs at its toes and smiles at me, eyes twinkling. It’s god. Not in a church, but just there, playing with her toes.

© 2013 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.

An accident

Her story
So I’m walking with Melissa this morning and sometimes, you know, she just likes to stop and examine things, right in the middle of the street, no reason at all, just because she wants to. And I don’t stop her. So there we were, I’m looking at my little girl, and suddenly this man and his dog bump into me, almost knocking me over. Nothing happened to Melissa, thank god, or I’d have killed the man.

I turn to the man and I says, I’m flustered, I’m trying to regain my composure and I says, “Excuse me, sir, you almost knocked me over.”

He goes, “Well, I’m sorry, but I didn’t mean to bump into you. You were looking at your daughter, and I was looking at my dog.”

Who cares about his dog?! You almost knocked me down! But I’m polite, so I says, “Sir, I believe you owe me an apology.” He rolls his eyes at me. I almost bust a vein. I’m glaring at him now, but he refuses to apologize, just refuses. And he speaks with a posh accent and all, like he went to some fancy school.

So I says to him, “Sir, you should apologize, and you should be more considerate.”

Now he’s looking at me like I’m crazy. I’m getting all worked up, I’m usually calm, but I cannot tolerate someone with an attitude.

So I let him have it. “You know something, that’s not how we do things in this country. I curse you. I never curse anyone, but I curse you.”

You know, I’m not a racist, but you could see this man has, you know, an attitude or something. European or Middle Eastern, who knows where he came from. Greek. Olive skinned. I says, “I know how your type treats women. You should go back to where you came from.” You don’t want to mess with me. I’m nice, but to a point.

And you know what he tells me? He tells me he’s from Iowa, he’s visiting his parents. I laughed. I’m sorry, but it was just too funny. And if he’s from Iowa, that was such a lameass lie. His parents? Hah! It has to be the Julynns – only they would adopt someone from the Third World when there are so many homeless children in this country.

He had a golden retriever puppy with him. So I ask him, “Whose dog is that?” It’s his dog, he says.

But I wasn’t born yesterday, so I says to him, “Really? Well, I’m going to find out whose dog that is and tell them how their dog walker behaves.”

I told him I’d call Homeland Security on him. That took him down a few and he took off. Crazy, just crazy.

His story
I bumped into the woman even though I was trying to avoid bumping into her. I was trying to go around her with my dog and she was walking with her baby, and understandably, they were, you know, taking time with their steps. So I tried to walk around them, because they were right in the middle of the entryway to my parents’ building. So anyway, I bump into her and I say, “Excuse me.”

“Can’t you see where you’re going?” she said.

I said, “Well, I’m sorry but neither of us was watching where we were going. I was looking at my dog, and you were looking at your baby. I’m sorry, but I didn’t mean to bump into you.”

“Well, you should watch where you’re going”, she replied.

“Huh? Well, uh, I did say I was sorry, but you were looking at your baby and I was looking at my dog, and so we bumped into each other.” I might have rolled my eyes at this point.

“I curse you,” she said, “and I never curse,” letting me know the intensity of her displeasure. She went on, “I never curse, but I curse you.”

Oops, I thought and decided to ignore that. I looked at her blankly, somewhat bewildered at this unpleasant turn of events, as I made my way into my parents’ building.

“I know how your type treats women,” she went on, “You should go back to where you came from.” Well, it looked like she was saying I should go back to some foreign country, but I was born right there, in Iowa. So I turn around and tell her, “Lady, I’m sorry you’re having a bad day, but uh, I was born right here in Des Moines, in this building, and I’m here to see my parents. I don’t know what’s up with you, but I gotta go.”

I don’t know what she found so funny about that, but she laughed indignantly. “You want to know what’s up with me? You are what’s up with me,” she said. “Whose dog is that?” she asked about my dog. I told her that he was my dog.

“Really?” she said, sarcastically. “Well, I’m going to find out whose dog that is and tell them how their dog walker behaves. I should call Homeland Security on you.”

Some days, you just can’t win, I thought and walked away from the woman. She kept calling out after me, but soon I was in the elevator, safely insulated. Through it all, her daughter was very quiet, as was my dog. Later that evening, while we were out to dinner, my parents told me I had met Mrs. Sanderson, the neighborhood guardian against all things remotely foreign and terroristic.

© 2013 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.