I’m Not As Fierce As I Look

by jkatejohnston

2 November 2013

Dear Max,

After reading my diary yesterday, Teresa wants the record to reflect that we have black people living on our street, in case I haven’t noticed, and that she sees young black guys walking by our house all the time.

True. When I rode by the guy that I wrote about yesterday, I was in Land Park, a super groomed expensive neighborhood right next to ours. I ride through it on my way to work. I was on our street, but not in our neighborhood.

But mainly she thought I sounded a little bit racist, like seeing a black person is such a big deal. Well, the anxious solicitude of well-meaning white people is its own special kind of pain in the ass, the least bad kind of racism, surely. I thought that’s what I was writing about. Teresa’s not a white person. She doesn’t understand!

I guess the problem was that, wanting to make a point, I exaggerated how big a deal it was. Making a point is always less interesting than just saying accurately what happened. That’s the problem with almost all the writing you have to do in school.


On Halloween while we were eating dinner we played A-Z Candies. That is, A, Abba-Zaba; B, Baby Ruth, C, Charleston Chew, and you try to make it through the whole alphabet. Enzo just threw out candies in no particular order, “I have one for S! Skittles!” And a few minutes later, “I have one for M! M&Ms’s!” “I have one for A! Arms! Gummy arms.” We got stumped at Y. I offered up “Yum, comma, Bubble.” And Teresa said, “Lame, comma, Very.”

I got up to make my notes and Enzo said, “Always writing it down in her diary…[shaking his head]…Kate, Kate, Kate.”

Enzo got so much candy, a big plastic pumpkin full to the top. When we got home he poured it all out and it pretty much covered the coffee table. We all sorted it and gazed at it and exclaimed over it. He seemed more interested in fondling it than eating it. He got mostly chocolate and not that many chewy candies (such as Skittles) that are his favorites. I asked him if he was disappointed that he got mostly chocolate, and he said, “Naw…Ahm okay with it.”

The next morning first thing he poured out all the candy again and kind of ran his hands through it. He didn’t eat any. He didn’t even ask. He just wanted to check in with it. I asked him if he wanted to take a piece of candy in his lunch instead of a cookie. He thought about it for a moment and said, “I’ll take the cookie. It’s more appropriate.” (I don’t know how cookies made their way back into his lunches, but back they are.)

By the way, he was a Ninja. “You know, I’m not as fierce as I look.”