Whatsoever Things are True:
a journey into a hopeless America
The events of the past year have forced me to leave my comfort zone. I was too secluded in my circle of friends, my dinner parties, my favorite coffee shops. It quickly became apparent to me that the news I was reading and watching was a reflection of a life that I knew nothing about. So I decided to pack up and go on a journey that nearly robbed me of my life.
My first step outside of the bubble of Washington, DC was a restaurant called Crabtown, USA in Glen Burnie, Maryalnd. I had read about this place a few years back. It seemed like an excellent family establishment that would let me ease into a life outside of Ward 3.
A creaking door accompanied my entrance into the restaurant. The smell of crabs was everywhere and there were long tables full of families enjoying the fresh meal from the sea. I stood around for about an hour before I realized that I was supposed to just order and then choose my own seat.
The friendly but blunt woman behind the counter asked what I wanted. I ordered some crabs and a cup of coffee. There was a nervousness about her. She was probably a smoker who missed the luxury of having a cigarette inside. The smoking ban had hit her hard. I smiled slightly in sympathy and made sure that she noticed the generous tip I was leaving in the jar. I held my hand suspended above the jar until she made eye contact with me and then I released the contents into the currently empty vessel.
There were sounds of children coming from the adjacent room. I stepped in and was greeted with a large arcade. A number of pinball machines lined the walls, as well as some arcade relics from the 80s. I smiled fondly, remembering the sexually charged courtship with my wife that occurred during a game of “flipper”
Several of the children were wearing wrestling shirts and there was a certain wildness about them. The parents were smiling, but with a hint of fatalism in their eyes. It’s as if they knew that these games would only distract them for so long before they had to return to their ordinary lives and their mounting bills.
One gentleman playing the “Twilight Zone” flipper game in the corner seemed particularly interesting to me. He was wearing a black monster energy t shirt and chugged beer in between balls. He had a certain joie de vivre that accompanied his play; giving out hoots and hollers when he made a good score.
After he appeared to be finished with the game I sidled up to him and introduced himself. He said his name was Fred Smith.
“A writer, huh? Hell my buddy was a writer. He likes that science fiction. Say’s that he tries to write more than he reads. You imagine that?”
He said as he wiped some crab dust from his jet black mustache.
I asked him if he was currently in a relationship and he laughed in a disdainful matter.
“Hell, I’ve had too much trouble with women. That’s why I live with wolves.”
That’s when I noticed the scars running up and down his arms.
“Hell, they bother me sometimes but not as much as the so called fairer sex.”
I was becoming nervous and excited. This man was utterly unlike anyone I would even hope to encounter in my daily life. I couldn’t wait to put pen to paper and capture his image.
I brought up the issue of politics and he seemed to eager to tell me about the subject.
“Now, I haven’t always been a Republican. Haven’t always voted because I didn’t see the point in it. But, Trump…Trump is my man. Alot of people saying he’s a racist, but I know better than that. It’s about safety, not a racism. I have a muslim friend at work….Mohammad…uhh…Smithers. I think it’s all about, you do your thing and I do mine and let’s just learn to live together. But I don’t want some new foreigners coming in that don’t have respect for us. Who knows what’s in their hearts, ya know? Hell I don’t trust some of my own neighbors, so it makes sense to have strong borders.”
I’d never heard the case for Trump put so simply. It was a revelation. While I will always be opposed to the kind of politics that he represents, here was a man who didn’t appear to have ill will towards anyone; just plainly speaking his mind.
“Say, you ever shotgun beers in that there fancy Washington, D.C.?”
I was confused. Was this some sort of gun thing? I was unfamiliar with his culture and my ignorance was making me blush.
“Say, I’ll teach you.”
Fred came back with two cans of beer that were both closed. He took a knife out of the waistband of his jeans and I flinched for a moment.
“Now calm down there, Mr. Big City…I ain’t gonna hurt ya. What we’re going to do is make a hole in the can and then drink it in one go.”
I agreed to take part in the challenge.
Fred deftly poked holes in the cans and we immediately put our lips to them.
Then everything went dark.