I went to the streets on Monday with Rich. A very pregnant woman told me my quickly done-up braided hairstyle was ugly and ordered me to take it out immediately, to which another very pregnant woman attempted to “fix” my work. She probably would have been able to do so, had a high teenager with a hair fetish not kept ripping sections out and had my hair been rougher or kinkier or stronger. As it was, she only succeeded in bruising my scalp.
Which adds to the collection I’m calling my “why-it’s-embarassing-to-go-to-the-beach” bruises. I look like a woman who’s been beaten by her boyfriend. I can assure you that isn’t happening. This is all my own CLUMSINESS!!! First, there were the hideous bruises from the painting incident. Then others appeared, tiny ones, on my arm. Maybe from running into doors. Then one on my leg that I can only attribute to scratching really, really hard. And another inexplicable on the inside of my thigh. How does one bruise the inside of their thigh??? Crossing my legs with too much force? Then, on Friday, I was in the bathroom, getting ready to shower, when a mirror fell, pointy corner first, directly onto my foot, leaving a two-inch diameter circle on my foot. A perfect circle in pale purple and green. Is there a medicine you can take for this condition? Something that will make me less of a klutz? Because it’s starting to hurt...and not just my pride.
But back to the streets. On the bus, Rich filled me in on the very best street story I have yet to hear. I was having my hair pulled out while he was talking to M-, so I didn’t get to hear this first-hand. It seems that M- had asked Rich what the going rate from euros to reis was; having determined it was roughly 3-1, Rich asked him why he was interested.
M-: “Well, I ran into this Japanese businessman the other day and I asked him what time it was and he blew me off and that really got me ticked so I robbed him. And I got 500 euros!”
Rich: “Wow, that’s a lot of money. What are you planning to do with it?” It’s better, in situations like this, not to even start in on the morals. The money is stolen, the Japanese is gone. At this point, we’re just concerned about what to do now, in the present. And 1,500 reis is a lot of money. That could just about buy a cheap favela apartment...
M-: “Hmmm. Well, you see, fifteen hundred reis is a lot of money for someone like you but for people like us on the street, it’s really not all that much.”
Rich: “Huh? How’s that?”
M-: “Well, you’re responsible. So you have rent and bills to pay and food to put on the table. But we don’t have anything like that and we’re not responsible. So we’re going to spend it all on drugs and clothing and it’ll be gone in about two weeks!”
Well, that’s honesty. And underscores a need to teach a different way of thinking...