Monday, August 6, 2018

Are You Alright, Bro? (An Essay) by E. Reyes

Pop Tarts are currently promoting a free book when you buy a box; one box equals one free book, so this morning I decided to go out and get some.

I live extremely close to a Fry's grocery store, so I decided to walk. It was 94° outside, the devil decided to visit early, but I still went out anyway.

As soon as I stepped out, I immediately felt the heat. My sunglasses did nothing to exhaust the hateful sun’s UV rays. Sweat started dripping, throat started drying, the Arizona heat was smothering me.

I’m a casual jay-walker, only when the street is extremely dead and clear of automobiles, but there was too much traffic at nine in the freaking morning. I have anxiety and, most likely, social anxiety, so you won’t catch me using the pedestrian walk. Walking in front of parked cars? No way in hell. Anyway, it took me a good fifteen minutes to cross the street. I was heating up under the sun like a hot dog at Quik Trip.

After being socially awkward and nervous inside Fry’s, it’s time to go. Once again, too many cars. Why are there so many cars? Seriously, why? Don’t these people work? I had to wait, this time, about twenty minutes. Sweat was dripping off my head like a melting icicle.

Now I don’t know if this person saw me nervously mumbling to myself or heard me cursing life in general, but he walks up to me and asks sincerely, “Ay, are you okay, bro?”

At first thought, I thought he was a bum. At second thought, I was thinking, I’m going to have to kick this cholo's ass. He is walking way too God damned close to me. He either wants to fight or attempt a robbery.

Caught off guard by this guy’s question I just said yes. He says, “I’m just asking, bro.” He points at my bags and at my head, maybe pointing out that I look distressed because I can’t carry soda and Pop Tarts. And I'm sweating like a pig in a slaughterhouse.

The cholo continues. “I'm just asking if you’re alright, bro. You good? I just got out the pin. I don’t mean it in a bad way or something. Just seeing if you’re alright. You’re a big guy.” He points at my broad shoulders and makes his arms extend wide. “You’re, like, four times bigger than me, but I’m just seeing if you’re okay.”

I laugh and say, “Yes. Thank you. I’m okay. I appreciate that.” But what I’m really thinking is: dude, I’m sweating like a vampire in church; what does you being in the “pin” have to do with anything?; When are you going to ask for change?; What does me being big have to do with anything?

On further inspection, this bald-headed, goatee rocking, dialated-pupiled homie looks extremely high off of his ass. I tell him thanks again and we part ways.

I escape the dreadful desert heat and contemplate the reason for everything that happens. But am I really alright, bro? I don’t know, cholo.

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