Thursday, October 24, 2002

One-Two-Three 10.23.02


Props to Arroz the Rice-A-Homie, for I have now met Miss America. Not the married and buxom Mrs. America (hey mother… want another?), but the honest to God, Donald trump crowned Miss Illinois, Miss Erica Harold. Now, if you were watching as un diligently as I was, you will need this recap-- she ran for Miss America under a platform against bullying.

Which to me sounded, at first, like the platform against twice-warmed steak.

But she has a tale about being harassed by the corn-fed denizens if her mid-Illinois school, and how the administration did nothing to stop the racial and physical threats levied against her. This was some of the content of her opening speech at the roundtable breakfast/ discussion, designed to convince media people to add more realistic depictions of bullying in their work.

There was some discussion of solutions which often came in the form of asking where the teachers were, as if they hold the authority over the children. It’s been my opinion that children hold the authority over themselves. Of course, it’s best not to let them know that, because they will go crazy with it.

The power of having a heterogeneous school, filled with different communities of children, is the way to make kids feel comfortable, I started to think after listening to kid talk about how the “Fame” school has no tolerance for, well, intolerance. Much like my high school. In a sense. But both of our schools have many different niches for the kids, so no one feels really left out on a large level.

This event took place in the stylish offices of MTV, and there I was, a guest of the estimable Rice-A-Homie. It was kind of interesting. But in truth, I was not the one who got to shake her hand and take a picture with the crown over my head, as this other fellow did.

But that’s okay, really, because I met Newsday columnist Steve Jacobsen, and I done learned something.


I walked across a busy midday midtown in a rush after this event, since I was already good and late. I’d called my friend Ellen to have her come down an receive a 5-inch gift in the plaza in front of her building.

What? It was a CD filled with the most ignorant current rap songs I could possibly find. Destined to make her laugh. Then she announced she was really going through with plans to leave the country for Mexico. This is what happens when you’re out of touch.


And on the subway home, I am trying to fall asleep. I close my eyes, curl into a ball, make sure no one has their legs or bags touching me. I tried reading. I tried counting lights through the window.

I couldn’t fall asleep. And I was really friggin’ tired from my short morning in the city. I had reading to do, a paper to write, more midterms to study for. So I simply watched the people; focusing on the squat fella in the bright white mesh Kangol for Safari time on the subway.

There was a girl with an art-sized portfolio bag falling asleep down the aisle. Across me on other red-orange-red F-train seats, was a woman who had just sat down on the train, visibly upset. Next to her soon sat an angelic Polynesian or possibly Hispanic beauty-- maybe a little young but well-dressed in powder blues and white from her fitting jeans to a sleeved shirt and a sweater over the shirt.

She was scribbling furiously; and from my distance I could see the writing was impossibly small, like a crib sheet for a test you have not studied for.

Nothing to notice, but the upset woman looks like the world is falling on her head. The angelic woman stands, hands the woman the paper, which looks as if it has another paper wrapped in it, and whispers something to her. I wonder why they had not acted as if they knew each other previously-- were they sisters?

The upset woman reads the note, and covers her mouth, then her face. She gasps. She starts talking to the woman sitting next to me. I think maybe they know each other also.

“Oh, my, God,” the upset woman says. “Oh my God.”

Being concerned straphangers, the Kangol and the woman next to me ask her what happened.

Apparently the upset woman had been released from some employ after an argument, an incident, and some racial slurs from her boss. Who then refused to pay her for the half-week of work she had done. The woman was upset because she really needed the money, obviously. But there was no recourse for her to go back and get the money, so she was simply upset.

Now, I don’t know where the angelic girl came from-- she didn’t look as if she could be possibly over 20-- but she wrote a note to this woman and enclosed some unspecified amount of money with the note “God Loves You.”

To which the upset woman responds, “There really is a God. Oh my God. God loves me. I’m going to cry-- I have to get off the train.”

And she walked off the train at either Van Wyck or Sutphin, looking to all the world as if she had enough joy for three or four people.

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