Since you just never know when and where you'll be called on to defend your neighborhood, it's important to be prepared at all times. There I was innocently taking a bag of trash out to the Supercan when a guy strolling the alley set me into action. I said hi and he said hello. I dumped my trash and was about to go back inside when he began it with, "Can I ask you a question?"
Why sure; I talk to everybody. "What do you think of this neighborhood? I'm thinking of buying a house here." Good god, man, do you know who you've asked? I closed the gate behind me and approached the guy.
"This is a great neighborhood," I told him. "You're not going to find more a beautiful neighborhood, architecturally speaking, in the city. The neighbors are incredibly friendly; I've been invited to more parties and get-togethers since I moved here than I can remember. And no matter how late I get home at night, there are always people around, which makes me feel incredibly safe. We're close to galleries, restaurants and music venues. And we've got Abner Clay Park plus they're building a dog park."
Okay, so I may have come on a bit strong, but don't ask me my opinion if you don't want to hear it. He looked a little taken aback, but then challenged me.
"What about the graffiti on that garage door mover there?" he countered, pointing at it. And, yes, a nearby garage door, one of those cheesy suburban-looking kind with the multiple panels, had a different tag on five of the panels. It was kind of a tag sampler, if you will.
"Well, we are only a few blocks from VCU and it is an art school and inevitably when the kids come back after breaks, there's a flurry of graffiti. The cops come out and paint over it and they arrest a few people and life goes on. I wouldn't let a few tags determine your opinion of this place."
"And you feel safe here?" Jeez, I'm tired of answering this question, but I'd put on my J-Ward Girl cape and gloves, so I had to keep defending.
"I've lived here three and a half years and I wouldn't live anywhere else in the city," I boasted. Then it occurred to me: why was I trying to sell this doubter on my 'hood? Clearly he wasn't worthy of it. And you notice I never even mentioned Whiskey Wednesdays to someone so obviously neighborhood-challenged.
It was time to go back behind the fence and remove my J-Ward Girl ensemble. My work here was through.