I am heading to a printing shop in Flatbush to pick up the playbills for my first show in New York City. It’s so far that there is only me and two gentlemen on the bus B44. The man on the left catches my attention as he pronounces a sentence that clearly reminds me of a line of the show. He says “I don’t believe in anything, only in power and in God”. The gentleman on the right clearly pissed off, shouts at him that he better reads some books instead of watching television all day. The one on the left replies that he doesn’t believe in anything: books, television, nothing. He only believes in Power and God. He says he doesn’t believe in anything else because all people do is lying, that he smoked for a lifetime and ten years after he quit, he got throat cancer. The gentleman on the right tells him that it is precisely for this reason that he should read some books, that not all evil comes to harm but cancer … yep, that there are many types of cancer and ignorance is one of the worst. He tells him that this is what he is trying to teach his granddaughter who is a medicine student in Cuba. I smile and they both notice me. They ask me if I am also ‘Latin’ and I say “no, I’m Italian” Then the one on the right says “you should answer yes then honey because you are actually Latin too”. The one on the left says “Buongiorno!” mocking the typical Italian accent. The one on the right asks me why my Spanish has a Cuban accent and I tell him that I learned Spanish with my first boyfriend, who was from Cuba. The one on the left says “lucky him”. The one on the right says “lucky her”. Then the one on the left tells him “You and your Cuban pride. Isn’t it written in the books you read that Cuba and Puerto Rico are the same?”. The one on the right doesn’t really agree. Thank god they don’t ask for my opinion, because I guess I haven’t gotten one yet. Sometimes I think that Puerto Ricans and Cubans aren’t the same at all: tell that to the Cubans. Tell that to the tourists that choose Cuba for answering to their nostalgic stomachs by feeding them with the pastel-colored cars of the 50s, not with Wendy, Popeye and Burger King lined up one after the other as faithful waiting for their Communion wafer on the highway connecting San Juan and the very American Rincon, still ‘messed up’ after Hurricane Maria. Sometimes I think that Cubans and Puerto Ricans aren’t the same at all. Tell that to Puerto Rican doctors that were able to study at Harvard, that were able to choose between Wendy’s fried chicken on the highway of LA ISLA and Wendy’s fried chicken on any street of New York. Tell that to the Venezuelans who have been yelling for a while now that just one Country is not enough to safeguard the freedom of an ideology. It’s pretty easy for us sitting on our Norsborg sofas to cheer to the resistance against the overwhelming weight of the States that intrude on other Countries with the excuse of extinguishing the fire of dictatorships hiding their interests under a thick blanket. Pretty easy, isn’t it?
We all get off at the same stop. The Cuban gentleman tells me to take a picture of his book and buy it, the Puerto Rican ‘peeks’ between my chin and the cover of the book and asks “where can I buy it?”. The Cuban guy smiles. They move away together in the same direction, still arguing. I watch them for a while until they mix with the rest of the people becoming strangers again.
I think I am gonna buy the book. We better trust those who read, those who convince someone else to do it, and those who get angry at those who say bullshits, explaining why.
The book was Fake, by Robert Kiyosaki.
Post written while listening to The Stranger Song by Leonard Cohen.