The people who know me best these days know I have stoop-dwellers.
Even if you do not know me well but exist as a Facebook friend, you may remember that time I wrote about a late night argument about who is the better couple: Beyoncé and Jay Z OR Kim Kardashian and Kanye West? And you may also remember that the argument lasted through tahajjud and Fajr?
Yeah. Those are my stoop-dwellers.
They usually sit under my window – and they have spoiled episodes of Game of Thrones Season 7 for me. Multiple times. Like that one time after the first episode and I heard someone shout – THAT N*GA WENT NORTH TO BE WITH HIS SISTAH.
I knew they were talking about Jon Snow and Sansa.
What this means is I often have lots of feelings of missing out (i.e., FOMO).
This is why when I moved to my current neighborhood and made my initial assessment of the state of things, I set goals for myself. One of those was to be the most popular non-Dominican non-white new tenant on my side of the block.
We all need attainable niche goals.
My siblings told me it’s all about complimenting someone’s shoes. They told me, “Just say, ‘Nice kicks.’ You’ll see. Everything will change.”
Everything has changed.
One stoop-dweller has shifted from addressing me as “Ayyyyyye Mami” to “Hey beautiful” to “How you doin’ gorgeous” to “Hi there sweetie.”
One who doesn’t talk much was indignant when Dr.K and I came back at the end of the summer after traveling to Bangladesh and Turkey. When we walked through the front doors of the building, he was like “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” I didn’t realize anyone would notice. Or that we would be missed.
And another one now opens the door for me if he’s around. It began when he told me, “Assalamu alaykum!” and “I know how to say good morning in your language.” I was like, “Oh yeah. How’s that?” And he said the Yemeni bodega owner next door taught him. So I said, “Ah, you mean, like – Sabah al-Khayr?” And he said “YEAH!”
I didn’t tell him that “my language” is not necessarily Arabic. I would have to explain too much, and it would have ruined the moment.
He also said – “My name is A.D. but you can call me Abdul Aleem. Thats my Arabic name.”
And I tried so hard. So very, very hard. Not to laugh. Because I knew these Yemeni bodega owners are making so much du’a for their potential brother Abdul Aleem.
And then, there was a series of rainy days and flood alerts in September when I had my hands full each time coming home. On one of those days, A.D. rushed to open the door. He told me he didn’t want me to get wet. I said – THANKS BUT YOU’RE TOO LATE ABDUL ALEEM.
So the next day, he was faster, and he said – THIS TIME I’M NOT LATE.
I may not be the most popular non-Dominican non-white new tenant on my side of the block (well, not yet) – but I believe we now have what one could call a good understanding.
“We” meaning my stoop-dwellers and I.