Before I could greet him, Floyd B. Foolish, or as those in our circle called him behind his back, ‘Foolish Floyd’, began his usual antics of talking about things that he neither had much of an idea about or any evidence to support his assertions, the majority of which were false at both the surface and the core. I am certain that you all know someone like Floyd B. Foolish they come in all shapes and sizes. However, this version had migrated from the South during World War II and made a home in Mansfield, Ohio; a long ago forgotten small town that rested upon an already declined Steel industry. Now retired, Floyd had become one of the world’s busiest cultural critics and experts upon life, particularly racial matters. To my chagrin, Floyd has appointed me his closest friend, a duty that I am qualified for because of one simple reason, I believe that I am the only person walking on the planet earth that can talk with him longer than fifteen-seconds without wanting to punch him in the mouth. What follows is one of the many conversations that I and my “friend” routinely have on living life as a Black man in America.
As I sat down at the Coney Island counter next to him, he immediately started in, “You know all of this confusion regarding the police reminded me of something that my grandfather used to say, ‘there are certain things that you can set your watch by. One of them is that fools will continue in their foolish ways.’ It seems that foolish behavior is as essential to some people as air.”
Although I had little idea of what Floyd B. Foolish was talking about this morning, I knew that if I allowed him to continue talking, I would get an idea of what he was attempting to convey. So I simply sat and listened. And predictably, Floyd did exactly what I knew he would do; he related what was stuck in his craw in that annoying way that he seemed to have a patent upon. “So let me guess, you don’t see a thing wrong with these fools destroying their neighborhoods?” Peering at me over his glasses, Floyd B. Foolish awaited my response. “I presume that you are talking about the protests following the continuous stream of African-American men at the hands of police officers? Unjustified murder I might add.”
Before I could finish my sentence, Foolish jumped right in with an incredulous, “Unjustified? How did I know that you would say that!” Floyd knew exactly how to get me to engage, even when determined to avoid what amount to a game for him. However, I could not resist. “Yes, Floyd! Unjustified! Eric Garner was murdered by a gang of officers, on tape I might add, an independent examination proved that Michael Brown’s hands were raised above his head when he was struck down. And don’t get me started on the drive-by shooting of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice.” I exasperatingly asked Floyd, “How can you, an African-American male, excuse the murder of Black males?” ‘Foolish Floyd’ quickly retorted, “I’m Black! Ain’t never been to no damn Africa! And neither have you.”
I realized that Floyd had recovered from me associating him with Africa when his mouth curled into a sly smile, a sign that clearly denoted his recognition that he had sucked me into his petty game of racial matters. Floyd B. Foolish retorted, “I ain’t been murdered. You’re sitting here with me so I know that you ain’t been murdered. And you know why?” Before I could answer his rhetorical question, he continued. “Because we ain’t stupid enough to resist an arrest, fight an officer in the middle of the street and reach for his gun, or carry a gun in the presence of officers.” Floyd knew that his suggestion that the innumerable victims of police brutality had contributed to their demise would incense me. I immediately decided to do something that I and anyone else who speaks with ‘Foolish Floyd’ does, I simply sat across from him and stared at him peculiarly; I honestly did not even know what I was hoping to notice, learn, or glean.
Slowly a smile crept across his ebony face as he raised one finger and stated, “Another victory for Floyd.” I gruffly replied, “if that is the way you chose to see it. Floyd you are a sick man.” He simply laughed as he rose from his stool and head toward the diner’s front door.
Unfortunately, I knew that this would not be my final battle against the mad designs of my friend, Floyd B. Foolish; at least I he thinks that we’re friends.
A. J. (Floyd’s only Friend)