“We sell bread here,” is what that sign means, on a restaurant in my neighborhood that we call Fake France. But everytime I see it, I read: “ICY DEPOT OF PAIN.”
This morning, I’m in my shrink’s building, heading downstairs. I just make it onto the elevator before the doors close. There’s a guy in there who hit the door-open button just in time. “I almost hit the alarm button,” he says. “That would be bad news–me being black, and wearing a kufi.”
“Oh yeah,” I say, “I guess it’s rough being a Muslim these days. People panic really easily.”
“Well,” he says, “the scriptures say that if you serve God, you’re going to be persecuted. The prophets were persecuted. So I don’t mind.” He smiles. “He knows better than I do. That’s why I read the scriptures, so I know what’s coming.”
Elevator opens, and I say, “As-salaam walaikum,” and he replies, “Walaikum as-salaam.”
I meant it genuinely, but on the train back downtown to my house I felt a little cheesy about it.