Thursday, January 12, 2006

Let me take you to Boogietown.

This is so wrong for my first post of the new year. It's probably wrong for any post, period. It will doubtlessly come back to haunt me some day when I run for public office. Regardless!

It struck me today as I was driving The Boy to his art class that I now work in Boogietown. When I was little, my mom used to always call this part of town Boogietown. She'd say: "Lock your doors, we're in Boogietown!" And we would. Because we were afraid of the Boogieman and this town must be where he lived.

When I was little, I asked my mom what the Boogieman looked like. She said that he was black. I always thought she meant that he was pitch-black, like a shadow come to life in an old cartoon. I thought his skin must feel like boogers and that's why he was called the Boogieman. Whenever I was bad, mom told me that I'd better be good or the Boogieman was going to come and get me. Either that, or she'd sell me to the gypsies.

It never occured to me until today that my mother meant he was black because he was a black man. I only learned in college that boogie was a racist term for a black person. I never connected that Boogietown was the town of boogies, where the black people lived.

I work in Boogietown now. I walk down Boogie streets. I play with Boogie children. I share recipes with Boogie neighbors.

I wonder what my mom thinks of that. I wonder if people lock their doors when they see me. I am, after all, a part of Boogietown.

I hope I can befriend some gypsies soon.