Coffee: Fair Trade Five County Espresso Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand
America taught you I’m a threat. It taught me the same thing.
I was at the Japanese Festival at the NC State Fair grounds. L invited me. Go back a couple generations and his blood’s risen-sun red. We got there early, walked the stalls. There were many American faces, all cultures, all colors. I watched the snap-crack kendo demo. I watched a cadre of kids running with a tiny paper float on their backs, memories of Yamakasa.
On the way out, we wanted treats. I got some matcha mochi with red-bean paste, shared it with L. It was wrapped in bamboo leaves and AC cold. I liked it – earthy, like the year’s first mowed lawn. L wasn’t a fan so we had extra.
Anyway, standing with L and his wife, watching a Japanese woman pound piano on stage, a girl – maybe 17, 18 – walks by and asks “Where’d you get that?” I pointed her to the dessert stand. Then she tells me her grandmother used to make mochi. She was dressed western but had Japanese ravens in her eyes.
I said: “We’ve got extra if you want it.”
She stopped. Lips open; hands closed. Eyes went so wide all the ravens flew out; she shook her head, slightly. I could see the sweat.
“Ok, cool,” I said. She walked quick and the crowd swallowed her.
I was stunned. The bright warm Saturday had changed: eyes on me, a thousand; I hadn’t planned to wear my fangs to the festival, but here they were.
Girls grow up in America surrounded by long fingers, long stares, machinations to dislodge them from themselves. “Men are predators; men are a threat.” It’s too true not to learn the lesson. Her fear is far more suffering than I’ll know, but the bedtime story warps me too. If every girl is red riding hood, every man is the wolf. I feel you stitch the claws on me; that stiff ragged tail; I don’t want these teeth, but now I have them. A few thousand years of pack-hunting womanhood like African ivory and I’m born an animal. I’m a threat, however little I want to be.
I can’t change those stories, but I’ll keep trying to write new ones.
Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich
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“Beauty provokes harassment, the law says, but it looks through men’s eyes when deciding what provokes it.” – Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth