April 20, 2007
When I was five I had two really good friends: Taylor and Sean. The sad thing was that Taylor and Sean didn’t get along, which still seems crazy to me. We were all the same age, we all lived in the same neighborhood, and, at five, about the only major issue was whether girls had cooties, and we were all unanimous in our agreement on that. Sean and I really liked Japanese monster movies and Taylor didn’t care for them, but that wasn’t a big deal. There was one other tiny, almost unnoticeable detail, something so unimportant I’m not sure it’s even worth mentioning: Sean was black, while Taylor and I were both white. It didn’t make any difference to me, and it didn’t concern Sean either, but I have this funny feeling it mattered to Taylor. He didn’t want to be around me when Sean was around. So Sean and I got this idea that we would offer Taylor a peace offering, and by "peace offering" I mean "practical joke". We were five so we couldn’t come up with anything sophisticated involving, say, a fly in an ice cube in his highball, or fake vomit, or a can that said it contained peanut brittle but really had spring-loaded snakes inside, or having eighteen pizzas delivered to his house. What we did was take a piece of candy, split it between us, then shaped some mud so that it looked like candy and put it in the empty wrapper. When we went to Taylor’s house his dad answered the door and we gave him the candy and asked him to pass it along to Taylor. The funny part is the next day his dad was sick and spent three days in bed, and I later found out that Taylor never got the candy. He never even knew we’d come to his house. Maybe it was just a coincidence, and I’m not sure whether there’s any lesson in it. Sean moved away a few months later.
A few years after that I was having one of those really long, boring summer days so I took a long walk to a different neighborhood. As I was walking along five black kids came out to talk to me. I wondered if they were going to take the same attitude toward me Taylor had always had toward Sean, but they just needed another person to even out their kickball teams. It was great because, in my neighborhood, only the older kids played kickball and all I could do was watch and dream that, someday, I’d be picked for a team. I never saw those guys again, but only because I got grounded for being late coming home and I never went back to that neighborhood. I did learn a very important lesson that day: I’m really bad at kickball.