I dated a Black usher in the supermarket-basement theater. Or, she dated me. I’d never chased Black women. Tell the truth, they’d always been well-nigh invisible to me. Even as a small child, my only thought was that they all had very skinny legs and big feet. I never even looked up into their faces. I had crossed swords with a few militant Black chicks in college but they’d made little impression. Black girls just weren’t on my radar. I think Sandra sensed this, sensed that I wasn’t a phony White liberal pretending to be color-blind while actually obsessed with adding a Black notch to his bedstead. Hell, I didn’t even own a bed.
It was undeniable that with our matching Afros, Sandra and I made a cute counter-culture couple. She enjoyed showing off her hippie boyfriend to her Black girlfriends and I enjoyed the envious stares I caught from White dudes who assumed I must be one whole heckuva lotta man to have an Angela Davis look-a-like on my arm. I tried not to notice the hate-filled stares I got from Black dudes.
I hear a Black teenage couple arguing. He has been dragging her into movies on 42nd all day. She pleads, “Do we gotta see another kung-fu movie, Jerome?” They later pose for souvenir photos taken on the street corner in front of painted backdrops of the African jungle and ancient Egypt. A lop-sided rattan chair salvaged from a garbage heap serves as King Jerome’s throne in both locales. In one photo, he holds a rubber spear and in the other a cardboard sphinx. Yvonne stands beside her seated Lord. In the jungle, a leopard-skin print drapes her torso. In Egypt, a Cleopatra-crown rocks unsteadily on her Afro. Jerome pays extra to have the photos framed.
King and Queen fall asleep on the subway back to Bed-Stuy and miss their stop. Tomorrow, after Yvonne leaves for work, Jerome tapes the framed photos to the boom-box radio that is permanently attached to his shoulder. And, he returns to 42nd to see another kung-fu movie.