melissa's friend joshy met us after we shot. he was a special breed of new york, brooklyn new york, like he was already a 50 y/o man set in his ways. he would talk exclusively out of the side of his mouth in a few years. his eyes were henry miller squinty and sea green. he was compact, a coulda-been-ex-wrestler, his hair was short, he told melissa on the phone that 'oh yeah, i see you, you're with the white girl.' when he met me he kissed my hand, which i don't think has ever happened, or at least not since i was out on the town with voltaire. he wore short socks with champion shoes. he talked a lot. a lot a lot. he was an amazingly compulsive liar, but the kind of liar who just lives and has always lived in a make believe world. it was real from where he was telling his stories. they just poured out of him, lie after lie after lie. the only true thing that was relayed in those 20 minutes was that they were going to a 4 year-old's birthday, a baby named baby tupac; the father was an obese man in flatbush. i kept having to verify facts with melissa, he kept lying. but he was sincere in his interest regarding me and what i was about; had i always been such a nurturing earth mother?!?! i have no idea. but maybe that's why i stopped melissa on the street to ask for her portrait, he said. maybe. he said he had written 3 novels. approximately. detective novels. do you want to hear the first line of my book? i haven't actually finished it yet, he said. sure. "The city smelled like rotten fish, but that was mostly because Harry was sitting reading the Sunday Times above a store in Chinatown that smelled like rotten fish."
melissa talked earlier about being black and costa rican, and i interjected with some anecdotes about sitting on a bus to buenaventura the year i went to find my colombia, the colombia in me, my father's colombia, his ghost on their corner, my accent, my aunt's acceptance, etc. the girls i met at the icp from colombia were whiter than me, wore whiter collars than me, were more thoroughbred than me, had more maids than me, pardon me, but so it was...my grandfather was an ambulance driver, ni siquiera el presidente del pinche pais. we decided that you don't get to say who i am. who we are. where i'm from. what i remember or how i assimilated. you don't get to. so i'll be that white girl taking melissa's photo, and she'll be this beautiful face against a cyan backdrop we put up in the wind. the african man who sold it to me said it would be 10 dollars, then charged me 15. i know what i heard.