The Hood Loves You, Man

Some would describe this neighborhood as, “the hood”. The economic spectrum goes from working-class to unemployed. Thirty percent of the homes are either rentals, HUD homes (government subsidized) or vacant foreclosures. The owner-occupied homes are mostly retirees who’ve been in this neighborhood since before White Flight, or older Vietnamese couples who moved in at the height of it’s distress and planted fruit trees in the large yards, surrounding them with barbed wire.

Almost all the dogs you see are yard dogs, who never get walked. The two houses to the West of us are slums owned by an Asian couple who live in Scenic Heights and rent to whoever will pay. Coolest renters there were a Cuban and Puerto Rican foursome who had moved down from New Jersey and kept a loud rooster. They cleaned up the yard with a machete and didn’t fight too loud or too often. The couple to our east are a guy who manages a couple of drive-through only burger joints and his agoraphobic unofficial wife.

Around the corner are a pair of brothers who own houses across from each other. One works for the county - “You know, Mike, just lucky to have a job in this economy” - and the other used to lay tile, works when he can and drinks beer with Shorty and the crew. Shorty is real friendly. Junk man with a trailer who has an ongoing yard sale: home stereo speakers, children’s car seats, kitchenware, a wheelbarrow, microwave, bikes. Shorty’s wife and her friend across the street are friendly enough but they can’t stand Gwendoline, “cau’ she shou’n be all up ova’ mah man, she got ta ge’ hu’ own. She thin’ she be’an e’erybah’y. N’you don’ know d’ whole store’”.

Gwendoline, who has the most looked after yard for a few blocks says she’s, “just blessed by the good lord. Right, Aseeeruh? Awh. Asheeruh dun gave Gwendoline a smihyah. I to’yah yu’d git use’ta me.”

So yesterday with Ashirah on the back, Rags on the leash and Rinah on a finger, we’re makin’ the rounds and a car slows down next to us with a couple of twenty-something year old dudes in it (maybe the passenger had breasts). Cat’s got a big afro coming out from under his baseball cap. We exchange pleasantries and he reintroduces himself as Shorty’s nephew and appreciates that I’m, “takin’ the family out for a walk?”.

“Yea, man. You takin’ you’re hair style out for a drive?”

“Yea. You got it.”

I ask if they’re musicians and he goes, “I’m a wiz.”, and proceeds to tell me what he makes to which I respond, “what?!?!?”, and he laughs: “I could talk fah’ three hours you still wouldn’ undastand.”

He’s laughing the whole time he’s talking and he’s got some dry, white skin or something going on around his mouth, which combined with the hair creates a kind of clown vibe. In parting he says, “De hoo’ lo’e ya, man, bu’ be ca’eful.”, which I of course thank him for; the love and the advice.

Come see us sometime. Just past the Dollar General and left at the second prostitute. West Pensacola, Sanctuary Hill fuh evah!