When I was 17, I went with some guys to an Indian’s house. He was a real Native American Indian. His name was Joe. He worked in a plant nursery and lived in a cedar cabin next door to it. There were antlers on the outside of his cabin and weeds in the front. I went there with the guys for pot.
I stepped into his dark living room and into the pictures of his ancestors. There was not much else. Just them, dead ancestors in feathers hanging from his paneled walls. Some artifacts here and there. A recliner and a TV and a lamp.
I asked one of the guys if I could use his bathroom. I didn’t ask Joe. He didn’t seem to know I was there. His bathroom was pink. There was a porno mag on the toilet and I stole it, hid it under my jacket. It didn’t belong there. Joe didn’t belong there.
The guys told on me the next day and said Joe wanted his magazine back. They said if I just returned it he would forgive me, and I wanted his forgiveness. But I had never seen a magazine like that. I saw a video when I was in elementary school at a friend’s house. She was younger than me. She found it under her parent’s bed. I didn’t really know what I was seeing.
I just felt that Joe was better than that. I didn’t know him, but he should’ve been better. He was an Indian.
In our small town in Mississippi, we only had black and white people. We saw all things as black and white. I had never been to a black person’s house, but I had been to Joe’s. My social studies teacher was amazed when a Taiwanese family moved in down the street the next year. Our town was growing up. Pastures were turning into grocery stores and two lanes to six and one stop light became twelve.
I never spoke to Joe. I never saw him again. He just was Joe and I was growing up.