Old man and the grief

I arrived at this city six months ago. And from that moment I became instantly enamored, the way a ninth grader in a teen movie falls in love: fast, intense and riddled with insecurity.

To continue with this ill-constructed analogy, the city plays the part of the popular high schooler, slightly older, more experienced, surrounded by adoring worshippers who fight over lighting her medicinal cannabis. Obviously I play the new kid, dressed for the wrong decade, using unintelligible slang in a heavy accent and still wreaking of humidity.

And so begins our unlikely courtship. I attempt to resist her charms by clinging on to an old receipt from La Carreta, but it’s useless. The more I try to suppress my feelings for her, the more she showers me with explosive sunrises, ridiculous vantage points, breathtaking beaches, delicious food, incredible events and those impossibly tall palm trees scraping gorgeous blue skies.

As the plot goes, we eventually declare our love for each other, but before she can turn me into a vampire or trick me into eating poisonous berries, we get side-tracked by a villainous group, one I had never encountered before: Old Angry White Men.

In Miami, Caucasian males between the ages of 55 and 70 were exiled to the next county, but here in Los Angeles, they are the only ones that can afford mortgages, so they get to stay…and be very angry about it.

It’s a talent to be that pissed off all the time. I don’t know who else could turn every mundane moment into a shit storm of apprehension, rudeness, aggression and stupidity. They are brash and acerbic in everything they do – especially when conforming to social norms or waiting for their turn.

I recall a pensioner at Porto’s that pummeled his way to the bakery counter and instructed those around exactly where to stand. Then, at the Hollywood Bowl, another senior citizen lost his mind when music lovers were not in a single file line. And most recently, two elders who got into a verbal altercation at the Van Nuys Animal Clinic when one of them didn’t have their dog on a leash. Things turned scary when one of them threw a yellow caution-when-wet sign in the direction of the other old-timer, which happened to fly ever so precariously over my head.

What is wrong with these viejo verdes?

I have a few theories. First, I believe their anger has  everything to do with the census. As I’ve mentioned before, the only thing this dumb survey accomplishes is to scare white men by projecting that they will be in the minority, eventually being forced to eat beans and rice and learn Spanish. Second, they might’ve spent their youth jamming out to (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, but it seems to me that they feel the blade of the sickle on their necks, consequently shitting through their pants and on everyone around them. And lastly, after more than half-a-century of conforming to norms, working at bland jobs, trying their very best to control their ingrained instinct to sexually harass and racially profile, they realized that no one gives a fuck about them. No one is revering their efforts. No one finds them interesting or exotic. No one, from their off-spring to strangers on the street, has said thank you for existing.

As a result, they are running rampant throughout Los Angeles county and destroying my ridiculous and far-fetched love story. It’s as if Old Man and the Sea is playing out in the middle of Pretty in Pink, it’s not a good look and an awful mash-up. So, in an effort to curb some of this cockblockage, I’ve written an ode to old white guys of the greater Los Angeles area:

Hey white mature man, you are special. Your silvery-dandruffy-thining hair is very attractive and the lines on your face tell the riveting story of your legendary athleticism in high school or your ability to work at the same job for thirty years. Your crisp khaki shorts tell me that you are in charge of your life and can easily maintain your Costco membership status, two things that are impressive to everyone you come in contact with. The shade of your skin is alluring, like an unscented bar of soap from a Days Inn. And no one, absolutely no one, is going to round you up and send you away, or shoot you without consequence, or pay you less than what you deserve, or deny you admittance or housing. None of those horrible things will happen to you.

However, if you are looking for purpose, perhaps a legacy to leave behind before the reaper finds you, use your anger to fight for those that do have those horrible things happen to them. I bet more people would like having you around if you did.

Now, please, leave me and Molly Ringwald alone.

Advice from a dead white guy.








Come to your census

Hey, it’s census time! Like the Olympics, the census comes around every 43 years, makes a big splash and leaves.

Census comes from the Latin word censere, which means “to assess,” but really means “two assess in a room counting all the people that are not like us.”

That’s right. Every 26 years, we get a form in the mail where we check off the incorrect hyphenated adjective for how much melanin was passed down from our grandmothers.

The census is culturally important. At least that’s what we are told. But the census is really about allocating money.

The results of the census are used by our local governments to ask for federal dollars. So, the community where everyone can read and write well enough to fill out the form and send it back will get a lot of moolah. The community that is illiterate, homeless and apathetic will remain that way because they will not be counted. Not counted, you don’t exist, you don’t exist you don’t need money.

Don’t worry, they’ll get another shot in 12 years or whenever it is that the next damn census comes around again.

The census also helps figure out how many representatives are needed in Congress to help pass health care. I think the magic number is 60 per square mile of a McMansion development.

Here’s the part I don’t understand. If the census is taking place in the U.S. for the U.S. and is surveying residents of the U.S., then is it not safe to assume that we are all American? Why all the hyphens? Why all the classifying?

If I were to run the census, which is what God intended me to do, I would ask different questions.

The survey would start off asking about the taker’s humanity. Question number one, “Are you human?”

Then, the next question is, “How do you identify your sex?” And not provide forced options like male, female or at the bar. I would give people writing space. What if on that day I’m feeling like I’m about to pop an Adam’s apple? I feel like I should be able to express that and so should you.

Then, the next question would be something important like, “Are you a U.S. Citizen.” If the person answered yes, then I can safely assume that they are an American. If they answered no, then they need to explain why they haven’t become one. I would also provide a space for those people that have dual citizenship. And only those people get to wear a hyphen on their nationality. In the case that they like the U.S. better than their home country, they would say they’re American-Colombian. In the case that they don’t like the U.S. better, they can just flip it the other way, Colombian-American.

The next question addresses the core purpose of the census: “Do you need money?” with a couple of follow-ups, such as “How much do you need?” and “Do you feel comfortable with us giving your money to your Congressional Representative so that they may distribute it to you as they deem fit?”

Should be easy yes or no responses, don’t you think?

The final question is the skin tone question. I would only ask it because everyone else is so hung up about it, not because I care. I would make the survey’s last page  feature a bunch of skin tone samples, like a proof print out with a bunch of thumbnails, and I would ask people circle the pantone swatch closest to their current skin tone. Undoubtedly, this will help the federal government decide which communities need sunscreen subsidies.

And that’s it. That’s the census. At least that’s what it should be.

I know my way is very time consuming. It would be impossible to run the results through a machine and send a press release with the findings by six o’clock. But, I can bet the color of my skin that the results would be different than the fear-mongering, panic-inducing results of the traditional survey.

Oh yeah, the results are going to be scary.

The news will report that there will be more “These-Type-of-Non-White-Americans” by the time the next census comes around. Do you know what that does to American-Americans?

Maybe even for an added scare tactic bonus they’ll add that by the year 2211, American-Americans will no longer exist in – gasp – America. Then they’ll be shown a demographic map of the U.S. that makes it look like American-Americans are surrounded by Fill-in-the-hyphen-Americans.

And the Native-Americans will laugh and laugh.