A few weeks ago, W and I spent the weekend in the Big Apple with friends.
On Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed slices of New York pizza, visited a used bookstore and saw Network on Broadway starring Bryan Cranston and the lovely Tatiana Maslany.
In the evening, we caught a burlesque show at a place called The Slipper Room in the lower east side. It was hot and crowded and almost impossible to get a drink, but as W said many, many, many times, “Naked girls are always good.”
On Sunday, we had a late breakfast and then walked through Times Square on our way back to our hotel.
And that’s when things got a little bit dicey, and I became involved in an urban street grift.
A couple of young people in Adidas tracksuits–think Run DMC but younger and without the gold chains–were handing out something to folks passing by.
Initially, I waved them off and said, “No thanks.” But they were persistent.
“It’s free,” they said. “Free, free, free.”
Everyone knows this butch loves a bargain, but even I know better than to accept items from strangers on the street.
“It’s music promoting racial equality and gun control,” they explained. “And it’s free.”
At this point, I had become separated from W and our friends and was just looking to make a quick exit.
I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t for racial equality and gun control and world peace and voter rights, so I accepted a CD and square of laminated paper that contained a qr code for a music download and started to walk away.
“Don’t you want me to sign it?” one of the young men asked.
I really didn’t, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
“Sure,” I said, handing him back the CD.
“What’s your name?”
“Rae,” I said.
“You mind if I call you R-Bango?”
“Sure, that works for me,” I said, trying to be all cool and stuff.
“I’m gonna make it out to R-Bango with the pretty eyes.”
This guy was as smooth as freshly pressed flannel, and he had me in the palm of his hand. I now had a cool big city nickname and was getting noticed for my best feature, my green eyes. If this is what city life is all about, R-Bango was ready to relocate.
And then he asked for a donation.
R-Bango reached into the front pocket of her jeans and pulled out some folded-up one dollar bills.
“Oh, we try to stay away from the ones, R-Bango. By the way, you should give your barber a big tip.”
This guy knew that the way to a butch’s heart is by complimenting her fresh high and tight. R-Bango reached into her back pocket and extracted her wallet. She handed over a $20. She was on vacation after all.
And then the next person in the group held out his hand. “Aw, hey, what about me? I’m the producer.” R-Bango handed over another big bill.
“What about me?” a third person asked.
R-Bango was starting to figure things out. She had seen Paper Moon when she was a young tomboy and knew a grift
when she saw one $40 later. She put her wallet back in her pocket and forcibly made her exit, walking past the outstretched hands before her.
As she caught up with W and her old friends, she wondered if her new friends had really liked her haircut. And if they actually thought she had pretty eyes.
Her wallet was lighter but she didn’t really care.
She had something money couldn’t buy.
A good story.
And a cool new name.
Word. From your boi R-Bango.
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Leave a comment and I will give you your own cool big city nickname.