Where nobody knows your name


Michael Young, After School

Today I was walking down the street in the bitter cold, and as I passed a restaurant, I thought to myself, why don’t I check out this friendly- and historic-looking neighborhood establishment? It’s a homey diner-type pub restaurant in our neighborhood, right on a busy street, with signs and smiley faces outside urging drivers to stop by, to enjoy some fish-and-chips and burgers.

I’m a fan of keeping business in the neighborhood. So I happily stepped out of the cold into the restaurant, thinking, maybe I’ll eat lunch here, and it’ll become a part of our busy lives, and we’ll become community fixtures, and eventually the locals will be like, hey Shabana, come on over and take a load off! So what happened at the university today?

Suddenly, time stopped.

A group of people sat at the bar, in the middle of an upbeat conversation, – which suddenly came to an end.

Four pairs of blue and brown eyes turned upon me, like in the movie (you know, Get Out) and stared fixedly in a mix of puzzlement, confusion, and low-key hostility.

Children of the Corn turned their eyes toward me at the door, as if directing laser rays at me, as my mind raced what should I do?

OMG, I thought stupidly, they know. They’re in a sci-fi movie and they see the data MUSLIM and ACADEMIC and CULINARY BIGOT and DESI beep-beep-beeping along my face. They know I hate burgers and I don’t drink. No beers.

Except there’s no way they know me. They just looked at me, and I was not welcome.

(Maybe I’m misreading the room). The woman behind the bar stared at me. No “come in” or “hi” or “how’s it going” or “can I get you a table.” Except for the four at the bar, the restaurant was empty. It was 1 o’ clock, so lunch should be available. Responding to the silent interrogation, I said cheerily, “I live in the area, and I thought I’d check this place out.”

The blond at the bar moved slightly toward me, and said with a markedly absent smile, “O-kay.” Her tone said: I don’t want you or your business, but I can’t say it. 

The silence continued. Looking for something to do, I glanced down and checked out the menu. Yup. I could eat here.

Except there’s no way in hell I’d ever eat here.

                                             Henry Farny, The Unwelcome Guests (1887)

2 thoughts on “Where nobody knows your name”

    1. Oh gosh, I don’t know, I think it just stays and boils and bubbles in different ways. Nasty hateful people are nasty hateful people who raise nasty hateful people.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s