When I stepped out on Bedford Avenue with all the other people getting off of the subway I saw something that would be a litmus test on whether or not I’d stay in Brooklyn after next summer. One guy got above ground and threw down his skateboard. Immediately this cab in front of him going the same direction, which was the only vehicle in sight, put on its brakes and came to a sudden stop. The boarder had to drastically swerve to miss the car and these two guys in front of me said, “What an asshole!”
My first inclination was to agree. Yeah, that cabbie was a dick, why did he stop like that and almost cause the skateboarder to wreck? But then I realized that these guys could have been calling the skateboarder an asshole for recklessly jumping into traffic. Finding out what they meant became an obsession. What they meant was going to serve as an indicator about where Williamsburg was at here in 2004. Five years ago there would have been no doubt that the locals were talking about the cab driver being a dick. But since then the hood has gone from slacker cool to hipster cool to uber-cool and now it’s getting close to yuppie, you never know.
If these two guys were talking about the cab driver being a dick then there’d be some relief that the neighborhood was still redeemable. If they were chastising the boarder, then that’s how low Williamsburg has gone and I need to get the fuck out immediately if not sooner. I follow behind the guys, trying to hear the follow-up conversation and get what they were tying to say. No luck. They went on to talk about friends and whatever. I almost stopped them to clarify, but I was only slightly buzzed, just enough to think that such a simple thing actually meant something deeper in my life.