Black and white
The Frazzled Housewife

Black and white

I have a very unique landscaper. He is probably most unique because he hasn’t fired me, like the dozens of landscapers who I have had before him, but that is a whole other story. My landscaper is a gentleman who I met through the Teaneck Baseball Organization and then, years later, I saw him tending to someone’s yard, we started chatting, and then he was hired.

Though I have permission to write about him, I still will call him Clyde to protect his identity. Clyde, who appears to be African-American, is not. He is actually Native American on his mother’s side and of Barbadian descent on his father’s side. In a world where everything appears to be black and white, this is the perfect example of the shades of gray (or mocha, as the case may be).

He is also Jewish, and a minister, and wears a Jewish star around his neck. He knows more about the Bible and Jewish history than I do, and he and Husband #1 always have very interesting conversations about religion and politics. I stay out of those conversations because I would rather talk about food and what Netflix show I am currently watching to drown out reality.

In any event, Clyde drives either a Hummer or  a Jeep, but, either way, each of those vehicles has Israeli flags proudly waving from their hardtops. A few months ago, he told me the following story, and I wanted to share it with all of you. One or two minor facts might be changed, but they don’t change the truth of the story.

Clyde was minding his own business and driving along the bucolic streets of our neighborhood, heading toward Route 4. Some guy driving behind him started honking him and yelling antisemitic profanities out his window.

When they got onto the highway, the honker drove up alongside Clyde, probably preparing for another rant, took a look into his car, and then sped away. Clyde had tried to get the guy’s attention.

“You want to have a conversation?” Clyde shouted. “Let’s pull over and have a conversation!” Clyde yelled at the honker.

The honker drove off into the abyss.

When Clyde was telling me this story, I started to laugh, and this was the scenario we discussed.

The honker was probably an ignorant (well, not probably, definitely ignorant), small white guy. He sees a vehicle with Israeli flags on it and figures it is some wimpy little Jewish guy with a big yarmulke.

“Let’s be tough,” he thinks. “Let’s scare this Jew,” he thinks. So he starts honking and honking and yelling things out the window, hoping to make himself feel bigger by shouting at the innocent Jewish driver.

But then he takes a look into the Clyde’s car — and sees pretty much the opposite of who he thinks is going to be driving the car. “Uh oh,” he thinks. “I have messed with the wrong driver,” he realizes. And after peeing himself, just a little, he speeds off.

Clyde and I were laughing at this story, even though it is really sad. There is so much racially charged hate in this world. The idiot honker thought he was messing with a white Jew, which is horrible in itself, but then he sees the driver is a non-white, Native American Barbadian  — that becomes a whole other kind of horrible. But to those of us on the right side of the story, it is pretty funny.

Now when Clyde told me this story, I still had been under the misconception that he was African-American. “I am American, but I am not African,” he chuckled. Because I had commented that the honker looked into Clyde’s car and thought, “I am not messing with a Black guy.” Nope, Native American. Which led to a really interesting conversation about his roots.

What was the point of this column? I think it was pretty black and white. There are good guys, and there are bad guys, and my landscaper is a really good guy.

And hopefully, after reading this column, he will never fire me. Am Israel Chai! Fly your flags proudly!

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck has started packing for her trip to Israel. This means she has also started cooking and freezing individual dinners for husband #1, so he doesn’t starve while she is away. If only she could do his laundry via whatsapp…..

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