Monday, October 28, 2013
The black boy – maybe five or six – pointed to the candy rack this Sunday morning when I came in for my papers and baking soda for my weekly chore of laundry. He was having a friendly dispute over a package of Gummy Bears with a white man in his early 30s with closed cropped hair, but not like that of the military. He might have been a Peace Corps worker or a member of some other liberal establishment, or merely an average American who had adopted the boy I soon learned had just arrived in the United States from Ethiopia.
The two had come to the small market to purchase coffee, soda and an apple juice – this last for the boy.
“We have apple juice at home,” the man informed me. “But he wants store bought.”
The dispute was over whether or not Gummy Bears were candy. The boy tried to argue they were not; the man insisted they were, and had told the boy prior to this he would not buy the boy candy.
While the man waited to pay for his purchases, the boy went outside and played peek a boo thought the glass door.
“When he was over there he didn’t even have shoes that matched,” the man said. “They just picked shoes from a pile taking any two that fit.”
Over here, the boy seemed surprised when the man offered him new shoes.
The boy was wearing sneakers today.
“But he’s all American now,” the man said, and laughed, and carried out his items to where the boy waited, and like the opening scenes of the old TV show “Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” the two made their way down the sidewalk on this cool day in Jersey City, the boy laughing at he skipped at the man’s side, the man walking and looking down, both pausing at the traffic light for the light change for them to cross, with me looking over at them in amazement and renewed hope.