Baltimore back streets….
So, if you’re not aware of the series The Wire a) where have you been? and b) this is a synopsis so that I can set the scene for the next part of our adventure…
The Wire is about the Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers, and law enforcement. The writers have striven to create a realistic vision of an American city based on their own experiences and it features corrupts cops, murders, drug dealers, shootings, with much of the focus on the African-American community in the poverty-stricken areas of Baltimore.
It’s bloody brilliant.
Anyway, bear this in mind when I tell we headed off to Baltimore Zoo for a jolly old family day out in Lady Miss Tilly, with a picnic in the back and a bunch of cheery grins on our faces in anticipation of the cuddly, cute and caged animals that we were about to encounter.
As we approach Baltimore on Interstate 95, we realise the traffic is going to be tail-back bad because of the Gran Prix that is taking place in the centre of the city. The sat nav is on, but my other half says let’s detour via Google maps so we don’t get stuck in the jam, because I do hate getting stuck in a jam.
I’m apprehensive, and this is why. My other half does not have a great track record with navigation, directions or journeys generally. Bear in mind that this is a man who went round the one-way system in Cheltenham four times before he managed to get out on the road to London and who took the wrong turning out of a driveway that he had driven into not half an hour before and ended up in the middle of nowhere, very confused and very late for an appointment back home (yes, I was cross, and a little dumbfounded). So my apprehension was well-founded, yet I chose to accept his kind offer and off we pop from the I95 onto some other road.
We turn this way and that, and it’s all beginning to look like the set of a series I enjoyed very much……yep, we’re in The Wire land.
As we approach a set of lights my index finger hits the lock-all doors button. My heart is fluttering. I’m intrigued, scared, and a little bit cross, as you might imagine.
I’m not entirely comfortable, I say.
Harry is noncholantly playing with his annoying Fisher Price laptop thing in the bag and asking if we’re there yet.
Not yet, poppet….
It’s all too much to take in, but I want to see it all and take it all in with big eyes and remember it. There are catatonic men on street corners with drug-induced gazes, boarded up houses, people rocking on their front porches, girls soliciting at the lights, stores with bars at the windows, grafitti on every wall available, and kids begging on the streets. Remember, bloggers, these are people living in one of the richest country in the world, the land that promises dreams will come true and that everyone is a winner.
In truth, it filled me with sadness. There was such poverty, such degredation, and yet I wanted to see more. Voyeuristic? Perhaps. Curious? I think so. To have driven 20 minutes from an area of wealth and clinical cleanliness with rules and brown paper bags and state laws that prohibit all sorts of anything from happening ‘within 15 feet’ to this, was kind of crazy. It was like entering an entirely different country and culture.
A girl comes up to our window with a sign. She has two brothers to feed. Jesus, it aches.
There are no photos to show, for I know one thing and that is don’t be a bloody tourist and take photos of the street corners and the people, because you may just get asked at gun point at your window for your camera, your phone and any cash you have on you….
We take a turning, the sat nav comes on again, we head up past Lafayatte Avenue, which features heavily in The Wire. It’s crazy round there, peeps.
And then we come to a row of houses, where it’s not quite so disturbing. They are terraces with charcater, and whilst people are still about and sitting on the porches, there is something quite beautiful and community-orientated about it. It has a good feeling.? I like it, and I want to be reassured that this community is happy, is getting on and that it feels like its worth something. I hope so.
And there’s the sign for the Zoo! Hallebloodylujah! My knuckles unravel themselves from the wheel. It’s good to be in tourist-land again. But I do want to see more….sometime.
50 shades of leopard spots
The next episode involves sex. Leopard sex.
Here’s how it goes: it does not last long, involves quite a bit of growling and neck biting from him, some teasing from her and then ultimate submission, a post-coital roar from him, a couple of roly-polys from her, a smug toss of the head from him, and would you believe it, he wanders off and falls fast asleep…..men are all the same, that’s all I’m saying….
Southern Ladies’ Tea Dance
So I think it’s time for some exercise. Cardio and Core sounds good to me (work off those Famous Dave ribs).
Well, I’m in for a shock. Read ‘Cardio’ as ‘Tea Dance’ and ‘Core’ as ‘Toilet Training’ (on a dirty seat).
The instructor is called Lou-Anne, and she says ‘Hi y’all’ in a proper southern drawl. She is (bitchy moment) a little bit on the tubby side for a cardio instructor. She has shiny dance tights on and a little tutu dress, and a bandana tied in her hair. She spots me. Hello new person. Hello, I say. You’re not from round here, how super! Then she pirhouettes off, clapping her hands.
Y’all, she drawls,I have to tell you, Jennifer Hudson and I are the best of friends. I’ve lost 17 pounds and 10 more to go!
Everyone whoops and cheers and claps.
And, she adds, y’all invited to my art show on Sunday at my house. All class participants can come and I’ll do tea. (I’m guessing iced.)
She hands out fliers with pictures of houses by a six year old on. Hurry up, Lou-Anne, I think, this is eating into my workout time.
I take some time to look around the room………..hang on a cotton-pickin’ minute, I’m half the bloody age of the rest of this group. Something’s not right.
And we’re off! But this is not cardio as I know it. I spend the next 40 minutes half-heartedly dosy-do-ing and not smiling a great deal at women with A LOT of make up on, great teeth and inane grins, who are skipping and dosy-do-ing around the room in a bizarre tea-dance fashion.
Get me out of here!
After 20 minutes Lou-Anne, I am guessing, realises I’m not having much fun, and am certainly not sweating in the least and does a bloody shout out to me – “Let’s hear it for the newbie. Well done!” Hide, hide. I muster a smile as everyone claps. They clap a lot.
Next up is core work. This has to be straight forward. Oh no. Core work Lou-Anne style is “put your booty out – that’s right, stick it out as far as you can – like you’re sitting over a dirty potty.” Oh FFS, Lou-Anne, let’s just frigging squat.