I have two friends, Tim and Tong, who are roommates. They live in the neighborhood where Tim and I grew up. It's a relatively working-class neighborhood of mostly Irish and Italians, stuck incongruously in the middle of a pretty well-to-do town that's mostly wealthy and Jewish. Anyway, they both go to Joe's Barbershop, the old Italian neighborhood guy I used to go to as a kid.
Note: Not the same Joe's. There are probably 10 million Joe's Barber Shops in America.
So a couple weeks ago, Tong goes to Joe's to get a haircut. Like many old-school barbers, the place is tiny, smells like shaving cream and old Italian man, and is full of old guys, many of whom aren't even there to get a haircut. It's just where they hang out. I've always loved Joe's. But then... well... things get weird. Tong is sitting in the chair, getting his cut, and overhears Joe talking to a couple of the other old timers. I'll translate, as Joe's accent is so thick, it's sometimes impenetrable.
Joe: It's just not safe anymore.Now Tong, who is Chinese, is sitting there stunned. I mean, they're being so damn blatant about it. And they're going on and on about how the black guys are dangerous, how you can't go out at night anymore. I'm getting furious listening to the story. I mean, these guys used to cut my hair when I was a kid, and I had no idea they were such vicious racists. I mean, who knew a trip to the barber would turn into a Klan rally? And they just. keep. going.
Old Italian Guy #1: I know, I know
Joe: The black guys, you can't even walk around at night anymore!
Old Italian Guy #2: I know! It's gettin' so dangerous I don't want to leave the house.
Joe: The black guys - you just hafta be careful.
OIG#1: Too true, too true. The black guys, you're right. It's not safe.
Joe: What are you supposed to do? You hafta be so careful.Huh? All of a sudden, just as he's about to stand up in outrage, Tong gets it.
OIG#2: The black guys... I don't know. I don't want the wife to get hurt, you know?
Joe: Ya, that's right. You worry about the women, the little ones, with the black guys. What if they fall?
It's not the black guys.
It's the black ice. The black ice is dangerous. The black ice is not safe. Remember the great Valentine's Day storm, where New England got covered in ice? Yeah. That's what they were talking about.
This is how wars get started, people.