Conversation Piece

(My ground-floor neighbor, a girl in her twenties, has some friends over for food and drinks on the patio.)

Guy 1 – ‘.. The whole bunch of us are Jewish: the lawyers who defend her are Jewish, her shrinks are Jewish – and even I have some Jewish friends here (not to mention Barbara Streisand), which is quite an achievement for a Jew in this city. Usually you have Jewish clients, Jewish patrons, Jewish neighbors, Jewish whatevers, but Jewish friends..? That’s something for out of town, or Brooklyn; your family and the thing..’

Girl – ‘.. In some ways I know what I want to do. I basically know what I want to do, but I have my hesitations, I have my doubts. I think of taking myself out of the job market and go back to school; learn business or Spanish or whatever. With Spanish I could work in the South Bronx; it’s a really booming area, but there is so much corruption..’

Guy 2 – ‘.. I have to make decisions about what I’m going to do.. I drive by Newark Airport every morning, see the planes come and go and I think: hey, there’s more to life than just doing this, you know. I’m doing this for two years now, and jeez, what the fuck is it all about… I could go to Massachusetts and build up something new there, but it is still Massachusetts. I don’t have to make a lot of money, you know; just enough to feel comfortable would be great.. But, you know.. I want to do something meaningful..’

Guy 3 – ‘.. There’re a lot of jobs Down South; in Florida, in Texas… But New York is different, though. Tougher than most other places, even Texas… DC is great, but the local level is so weak, and it’s so segregated.. I was there for three hours, yesterday, on Capitol Hill, and the only people I saw there where these white staffers and black servicemen, it’s so fucked-up. To work there, to live there.. I don’t know. As long as we as a country haven’t dealt with these issues, I don’t know. It would be great to be there, be involved in decision making.. But am I supposed to deal with all the old shit of my country as long as it looks the other way..?’

Manhattan, June 1995

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