- Category: Opinion
- Written by Jim Dee
The St. Louis metro area, as portrayed in film:
Clark Griswold: Pardon me, I was wondering if you could tell me how to get back onto the expressway?
Pimp: Fuck yo' mamma.
Clark: Thank you very much.
My father is nearly 64 years old, semi-retired, lives in the burbs, and loves beer, barbecue, and playing the piano. He's a very routine-oriented person -- doesn't like variances, you might say.
He's also very white. I wouldn't call the man prejudiced, per se, but he's not exactly a champion of diversity, either. He's the kind of guy who doesn't care for the city much, and especially the seedier areas. For example, in St. Louis, any street bearing the name of a state or a prominent figure in black history should be avoided at all costs. He didn't tell me that directly, but I've inferred that this is a maxim he's developed over time.
I understand that some might regard that as prejudice but, objectively, one would have to concede that there are crime statistics to support that view. In other words, the fact that the aforementioned neighborhoods are predominantly black is, really, secondary to the fact that they're crime-ridden, drug-infested, gang-ruled slums. In his defense, Dad doesn't discriminate based solely on color; if those crime-ridden, drug-infested, gang-ruled slums were predominantly Caucasian or Hispanic, he'd stay clear just the same. (Search my blog for "hoosier" stories if you don't believe me.)
Dad used to be an accountant. So, he thinks in terms of numbers and percentages. Maybe that helps explain it. For example, "If I walk down Martin Luther King Avenue at, say, 2:30 a.m. wearing a visible Rolex, my chances of getting mugged are greater than if I went into the well-lit, well-patrolled suburban grocery store near my home at the same hour."
He's no longer an accountant, though, having cashed out of Corporate America once he qualified for social security. His natural aversion to high-crime areas, I'm sure, came into play during his retirement decision; he worked, after all, for a large public company mired in Sarbanes-Oxley compliance (legislation "whose sole purpose," he often relays, quite resentfully, "was to keep greedy asshole executives out of jail").
Still, social security wasn't quite enough to cover all of his needs, so he took a part-time job. It's a great position -- he gets to read books most of the time, unless there are customers around. He's been reading presidential biographies for the past year or so, and it's amazing how much he's picked up about U.S. history in the process. For example, he's still very upset about Lincoln's assassination by the radical right -- an act for which, he points out, Rush Limbaugh has never apologized.
Perhaps that'll lend a bit of context to my my joke t-shirt ad on the right side of my blog -- the one that says, "I promise not to talk politics during dinner." The fervor coupled with the Irish blood in the family doesn't always mix well. We tend to sit around and get pissed together, which spawns numerous flare-ups that, I'm sure, we all regret in the morning. Isn't family wonderful?
Anyway, dad's new part-time job is great. The singular drawback is that it's located dead-center in da 'Hood. Lately, there's been a lot of tire-slashing activity there. Dad's been hit a few times by this, and his boss has covered the bills. But the other night, the post-slash blow-out didn't happen until he was a few blocks away from the relative safety of his employer's lot, in heavy gang territory around 11:00 p.m. This, you might say, is the particular brand of "variance" that sets my father off into a rage.
Immediately after the blow-out, he pulled over and set off on foot to find help. That's when the crack whore approached him, I'm told -- a new variance on top of a pre-existing variance. This was bad. Maybe you just have to know my father to appreciate how bad this was. (Sis, can you back me up here with a comment to better elucidate?)
Frankly, I don't know whether my dad was packing, but I'm fairly certain that, if this happens again, St. Louis may well have one less crack whore to deal with. Dad's a real "fool me once, shame on you ... " kind of guy. After being stranded in a ghetto and approached by a crack whore, you can be sure Grandpa Hillman is packing the .25 Beretta (a little souvenir he picked up at a pawn shop in the late '60s on his way home after being discharged from Fort Benning, where I, along with many other sons & daughters of Vietnam era draftees, was born).
Anyway, some cabbie stopped to help. My father had first asked the dude to drive him to a filling station, but the cabbie advised against it. He informed my dad that, by the time they'd return to the car, it would've been completely gutted and stripped. Instead, the cabbie changed the tire for him. Dad then told him to follow him to an ATM, and he tipped the guy $100. I thought to myself, $100?! Damn, that's not a tip for changing a flat; that's a tip for potentially saving your life.
Below, are the original comments on this post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.
On April 5, 2007, wrote:
Chris Rock had a pretty funny routine regarding "Martin Luther King Blvd."
I thought all of St. Louis was boarded up.
On April 5, 2007, wrote:
Your dad sounds like a pretty cool dude. I think a .38 is more appropriate in that neighborhood though. A .25 is for when you catch someone cheating at poker.
On April 6, 2007, wrote:
Damn I miss those Irish dinner/drunken brawls ...