By DJ Salinger, DES MOINES – Most stories begin with a call in the night. After snacking I’m usually bloated and angry and can just barely summon the will to drag myself into my hammock so it goes without saying that I don’t like to be woken. But this time turned out to be different.
“What now?,” I demanded as I picked up the phone.
My editor at The Brutal Times, El Toro, came on the line.
“I know a guy, a white guy,” he said. “He says he likes rap music.”
The next day I flew out to Des Moines to meet Ken Green. Green is 22, and plays rugby for the Des Moines University Packers. He has sandy brown hair and impeccably kept teeth. He was a little under-dressed for the brisk February weather that each year kills over 50,000 Des Moines residents in their sleep, but then again, so was I.
“Why?,” I asked him.
“Oh, that again,” he said, shaking his head.
“You have to admit it’s a little strange,” I said, offering him a swig of whiskey from the hidden hip flask I keep to liquor up interview subjects.
“No, no – I don’t drink, uh, when I’m in practice,” he demurred.
“How about a shot of heroin then?,” I suggested, trying to smooth things over.
“I dunno. I don’t think coach’d like it,” he replied.
“I thought you were supposed…to be…the white guy who likes rap music,” I said. “The guy who’d try anything.”
He got up suddenly and started to walk out of the Krispy Kreme donut shoppe where we’d been having our interview, but I knew I had him.
“You’re the guy,” I said. “You’re the white guy who likes rap music – hip hop – breakdance music,” I hissed.
He didn’t even make it to the door.
“So what if I do,” he snarled back, turning to face me with his eyebrows all scrunched together and the pimples on his forehead popping out.
I knew better than to say anything.
“We’ll shoot that heroin – into our eyes,” he blurted, and grabbed for the Gap bag with my hardware lying on the table between us.
Later, on the plane flying back to Japan I wondered silently to myself if this rap music thing would catch on with other white kids in the good old USA. Or if it would then spread around the world so that every single week some lazy news editor would do a story like ‘Chinese Guy Likes Rap Music’ or ‘Palestinian Kids Express Themselves Through Hip Hop Dance”.
No, I thought. It could never be.