Post-Karaoke Snippet #23

I left karaoke early tonight and

walked out to my van at 1:23 am,
alone in a parking lot behind two closed bars,
Ned Peppers and Hank's Hole in the Wall.
As I pressed my key fob and unlocked
my driver's side door, a young black woman -- 
maybe 25 .... maybe 30 ....
walked around my van from the other side
and when she saw me she
held up her hands
like a villain in an old-time western,
and she said, "Don't worry. I ain't a thief.
I ain't gonna rob you."
At the same time I was saying,
"Hi ...."
But instead I said, "OK?"
She walked by me with her hands raised
high above her shoulders.
I said, "Why did you say that to me?"
She said, "Because I'm black, and you're
a white woman."

I said, "Sweetie, I never thought you were going to rob me."
She put her hands down
after she had passed me.

I wanted to say, "I feel vulnerable too.
I have to be careful too,
but not because you're black,
and not because you're a black woman.
You are not my boogie man ....
and I am not your boogie man."

But I didn't say anything else,
and she didn't say anything else.
I got into my van and put my head on the steering wheel
for just a second.
And she walked on down the alley toward 5th Street.
And then I drove home.

I'm not sure which of us felt worse:
she because I might think she was a thief because
of her brown skin ....
or me because she thought I 
would think she was a thief because of my white skin.

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