“Carlo doesn’t understand what diversity is.”
– The Mayor’s Blue Suit talking with Josh Resnek
By JOSH RESNEK
I met the Blue Suit Tuesday afternoon at the Elm Street Bakery. He was buying cupcakes. I purchased a Scali bread. It was windy, crazy windy. We fought the wind. The cold was brutal. The Blue Suit sank into the passenger seat. I started the car up. We drove off into the Everett afternoon.
“Why do you drive such a dump of a car?” the Blue Suit asked me. I felt just a bit insulted. I wondered what was wrong with my banged-up red 2007 Honda Fit. The front end is held together with Gorilla Glue. Other than that, I don’t believe there is anything classless about driving around Everett in it. But then, I’m not Carlo DeMaria. He needs a Mercedes or a Cadillac. He measures some of his self-importance by the car he drives. In my family experience, self-importance and stature were about how smart you were, or how large your bank account was.
Back to my Honda Fit.
“What’s the matter with my Honda?” I shot back. “My car isn’t good enough for you?”
“Carlo would never drive a piece of junk like this. He would consider it below his class.”
We were joking about the mayor’s “class” when driving through Glendale Square. I interrupted the Blue Suit.
“Look over there,” I said. “That’s where the mayor gasses up for free.”
The Blue Suit looked at me like I was an idiot.
“Do you think you’re telling me something I don’t know?” he responded with mock amazement.
“Forgive me,” I said. “I forgot you know everything about Carlo.”
“Damn right,” the Blue Suit said with self-approval. There’s a bit of the mayor in all of us, I thought to myself.
“You know this diversity stuff you’ve been writing about, Josh? Carlo doesn’t get it. He really doesn’t understand other cultures at all, let alone does he care about the lives of the underprivileged, the Blacks and browns, and all the immigrants living in the city. He doesn’t believe they help to make Everett a better place,” the Blue Suit said to me.
“I’ve heard him talk about Gerly Adrien, the Haitians, the Blacks, the browns, the working poor, the welfare folks. He doesn’t care for them. Their lives don’t matter to him. Besides, many of them don’t vote or make contributions to his political campaigns. So why should he care about them?”
I cleared my throat.
“He should care about them because they are God’s people. I don’t want to sound too righteous about that. I’m not religious. In the home I grew up in, everyone had to be treated with respect. I remember one-night eating dinner with my mother and father when I was about 14. I used the N-word at the table. It was kind of an experiment to see what would happen. Do you know what my father did? He got up from his chair, walked over to me, and slapped me hard across the face with his open hand.
“You will never again say that in my presence,” he shout- ed at me. “And you are not to think that way either,” he fumed. “No son of mine is going to berate people because of the color of their skin,” he added.
“We’re Jews, he said. We don’t do that. Now finish your dinner and get out of my sight.”
“Wow! Are you serious?” the Blue Suit asked me.
“That’s exactly the way it happened.
It is something a young man never forgets, and it said something good and real about my father. You see,” I said to the Blue Suit, “I don’t understand Carlo’s hate of people.
He’s a hater and his hate runs deep. I don’t know how a person in politics can be that way.
The politicians I’ve known liked people. I didn’t get along with Dave Ragucci at first. But he didn’t hate me the way the mayor hates me. I don’t believe Dave is filled with hate or jealousy the way Carlo is. Is Dave a better guy than Carlo? Yes, he is. Take John Hanlon. Is John a hater?” I asked the Blue Suit.
“No way,” the Blue Suit answered.
“No kidding,” I answered.
“Is Fred Capone a hater?” I asked.
“No way,” the Blue Suit said.
“The mayor’s been having his people pass the rumor that Capone isn’t running, that Capone can run but he can’t win. The mayor believes he will be the mayor forever – but nothing lasts forever,” I said.
“Tell me about it,” the Blue Suit said.
“The way the mayor’s been wearing me out I don’t have a lot longer to go before I’m tossed under the bus. That’s Carlo’s specialty – throwing people under the bus – using them, abusing them, like them at first and then growing disgusted with them, hating them and tossing them away like rubbish. He is really like Donald Trump. The mayor talks trash about people in this city. Fred Capone does not go there. He will not go there. He will present a different persona than the mayor when push comes to shove,” the Blue Suit said.
Cruising down Broadway the Blue Suit came alive with curiosity.
In Everett Square, I parked the car.
“Wait here. I’ll be right out,” I told the Blue Suit.
I ran into the corner store in Everett Square. I bought two Gem Mine 50X $5 Scratch tickets from my Indian buddy who owns the store.
Getting back into my car, the Blue Suit looked at me and smiled.
“Oh boy, I love scratch tickets. I handed him one. I kept the other.
The Blue Suit and I are very slow and deliberate about scratching tickets. We joke with one another that we have a strategy. The coin we use matters. Where we’re parked when we scratch the ticket matters. Where the ticket is bought. What ticket it is…scratching tickets is more complex than most people imagine.
In an instant, the Blue Suit said with excitement: “I’ve got a star! Oh my God, I win all ten prizes.”
We were exultant.
The Blue Suit scratched the first prize – $100. Then there were several $50’s.
Fast forward, it was a $500 winner.
When I dropped the Blue Suit off on Abbott Avenue I gave him strict instructions.
“Hide that roll of cash,” I told him.
“You know it, Josh. If I don’t, Carlo will steal it from me and then tell me to drop dead and instead of hanging me up, he’ll toss me into his dirty clothes like I’m a nobody.”