Julia Flores, a 41-year-old Westchester native, slouched on a loveseat and absentmindedly fiddled with her phone.
“There’s a lot I miss,” she said. “I’ve been cooped up for months. So, of course, I want to go the movies, see my family, grab drinks with friends, but more than anything else, I miss being an absolute dick.”
I arched an eyebrow. Flores elaborated.
“Look, I’m tired of being nice to everyone just because it’s coronavirus and we’re all in this together, or whatever.” She rolled her eyes and twirled a finger in the air. “I really just want to drive 60 miles an hour in a school zone against traffic on a one-way street. Then I want to honk and curse at everyone else going the right way. Even better if their children hear it.”
Flores smiled warmly as her cat bounded onto her lap.
“I’m not asking for a lot!” she insisted.
Such pent-up aggression was universal across Miami. The recent lockdown forced many residents to abstain from the usual outlets for their anger such as rush hour road rage, parking lot brawls, randomly flicking off tourists, and calling strangers communists. More alarmingly, the newfound societal expectation of near-universal comradery seemed to compress those sentiments into immensely dense balls of fury just waiting to explode once the lockdown was lifted.
“I want judge my family because they still live in Hialeah,” explained Daniel Peña from Hialeah Gardens.
“Y yo quisera decirle a Alex que Hialeah Gardens es simplemente Hialeah con corbata y que todos allá deberían tomar el Express Lane directamente pa’l carajo,” rejoined an animated Robbie Peña from his porch in Hialeah. “¡Aunque no lo dije! Solamente quisiera decirlo.”
Elyssa van Dyke, an 87-year-old great-grandmother from North Miami Beach shone a large, amiable smile that only 87-year-old great-grandmothers can shine. “Personally, I’d really like to go to my neighborhood Publix, wait in the sandwich line, and then kindly ask the deli lady to go back to Mexico because she greeted me in Spanish.” Her smile grew wider as she reveled in the thought.
“I know that we have to be nice to each other, or whatever,” explained Benjamin Hotchkiss, a college sophomore from Overtown. “But if we didn’t, I’d tell my buddy Alex in Little Haiti that he’s a punk-ass kid from a punk-ass neighborhood. I mean, I wouldn’t now, but I definitely would.”
“Oh, that’s what Benji said?” asked Alexandre Batiste, not remotely surprised. “Yeah, I get it. I’d definitely tell him that Overtown’s just a Wynwood suburb. I’m not saying that now, but I would if we weren’t in quarantine.”
Jessica de Zarragas from Coral Gables missed taking leisurely walks in her neighborhood and crossing the street to avoid black people. Eric Richards from Brickell missed loudly boasting at brunch that he never went west of SW 2nd Avenue. Ernie Schertz missed bemoaning the fact that his family practically owned Miami before the Cubans washed ashore. Latisha Ellis missed calling reggaetón “mongrel music.”
In essence, Miamians just miss their lives. They want to get back to normal, back to their routines, and back to treating each other like shit. The only ones who never stopped are our politicians.
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