It’s not like you came out of the shadows in any particularly menacing way; it’s just startling to see anyone emerge from the shadows as the hour nears midnight to ask if you want to hear a joke. I was still in the midst of locking up my bike so there was no escape without being rude––I had to respond.
“How do you find Will Smith in the snow?”
There was only a few directions this one could take and they all seemed to point towards uncomfortably racist. This wasn’t what I wanted. I just wanted to walk the ten paces to the liquor store and grab my beer before they locked the doors––now I’d have to play audience to your bigotry. You swayed before me and I stammered some unintelligible protest and braced myself for the ignorant guffaws.
“Just look for the Fresh Prints!” You slapped your thighs and laughed, almost doubling over. I was surprised–it was funny. A relief. You introduced yourself and we went inside. I helped you pick out beer and you told the joke to the cashier. He didn’t hesitate like I had and everyone in the store laughed. I was the ignorant one. My cheeks burned.
“Want to hear the one about the Italian child-bride on her wedding night?” You called out as I pedalled off into the night.