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Nate on Being the Only White Boy in the Hood

I was working, making decent money, right out of high school. I was living off of Greenmount Avenue, the only white dude in the hood. Thelma was a great grandmother, never beat those kids. She was afraid I was a Nazi when I moved in. But we got along fine. I had a day off and decided to head into Charles Village, just to look at babes, maybe have something to eat.

I went to the check cashing shop on Greenmount and you would figure that’s where it would happen. But no, I’ve got $500 in my pocket and I’m headed through Charles Village, through this park where all the Hopkins babes walk their dogs. And there is this one crack head—a black guy—just leaning against a pole, totally strung out. This guy vibed some bad shit. He was obviously scoping out targets and he chose me.

I’m carrying knife and he’s shadowing me for blocks. Eventually I stop and pretend to tie my shoe and he goes by me. But when I crossed the street, he crosses and follows. I turn and head over to Greenmount and he’s following me all the way to my place.

When I get to a couple doors down he sprints up on me and I turn and he says, “You know what this is, brother.”

So I start talking to him and he’s showing me that he’s got this little Saturday night special—a cut-rate negro league piece of shit. I’m weighing my options, because this thing is as likely to misfire as hit me and it’s still in his waistband.

Then I wanted to kick myself for putting these kids in danger—school was out and they were outside playing. Dottie, this cut little girl with a scarf on her head, in the hip hop style that was big then, had been riding her bike with training wheels. And she rides up to me and says, “Mister Nate, look, I’m not on training wheels anymore!”

I said, “Wow, Dottie, that’s so cool. Good job. Why don’t you ride over there?”

Then, while she’s circling around, this crackhead says, “If you don’t pay me, I’ll kill her.”

That just blew my mind. I still can’t forgive myself for putting those kids in danger.

So I said, “You got me, and pulled out my mugger bill, the twenty I keep in my front pocket for paying hood taxes.”

He was off on his way after that.

A Once Great Medieval City: 2016: Impressions of Baltimore Maryland

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