Imagine

You’re 16. A boy. Hanging out with your buddies that aren’t really your buddies. They are some dudes, gangster-like, having the potential of looking for trouble, who are actually friends of your real friends. And the reason you’re hanging with these hooligans is because your true-blue friends are out and about. Doing their thing. And you figure you know these people well enough, so why not hang with them. For a while. For only as long as it takes to walk to the local mom and pop market to buy some chips and an ice cold drink. Long enough to wait for your tribe to show up.

So what do you do when, after leaving the store, you become part of an encounter that has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with one of the boys you’re hanging with? He’s in deep shit because he’d been tagging the city and from what you can tell, and what you’ve heard, the guy doing the complaining is an infamous gang leader in town. It seems bizarre, unusual, and sorta thrilling, too, but you know you must keep your cool and act like this is just a typical afternoon. So when the leader suddenly  walks up to you and says, Hey White Boy, those eyebrows for real? you, without thinking, reach up and run a finger along a naturally arched brow. Yeah, they’re for real, you say as coolly as possible.

Right answer. Right tone. At least you assume so. Because that leader of the gang, the Boss, turns away, back toward the criminal who’d been painting up the city, and he wraps his arm around the chump’s neck, leading him around in circles and tells that thug-wannbe to keep his city clean, or else.

And, all you could do is watch. Stand still. Be quiet. And hope that nothing bad happens. While at the same time, wishing you could cheer the Leader on, telling him how cool it is that he’s concerned  about the city and its polished status.

Imagine that.

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