As a kid, life is just so happy isn’t it ? You go about your day having fun, not worrying about money, love, and all other buzz killing issues. My childhood was pretty typical but what made it different was the environment. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. Philly isn’t one of the best places to grow up but to me it will always be home. As a child you learn lessons you wouldn’t learn until years down the road if you were living elsewhere. Looking back I take pride in some of the early lessons I learned on the streets of Philadelphia. There’s one lesson that I can say really changed my whole outlook on people and life.
If you’re familiar with the area I grew up in, around Erie Avenue, than you know how difficult a place this can be to live and survive. On the streets you hear a lot of talk, but you never know what to believe. My friends and I knew this guy, well we saw this guy around I guess you could say. He was tall black male mid-thirties with dark shades and a black fitted-cap. His name was Eddie. Eddie was a scary character. He was straight out of a horror movie. He carried a long steel chain around in one hand and a large wolf like dog in the other, and to top it all off, he NEVER spoke.
I was a pretty curious kid. I wasn’t really afraid of Eddie, I was more interested in actually getting him to talk. By then I had heard so many horror stories about him, I knew I was taking a risk. I could easily become dog food if I attempted to have a conversation with Eddie. So … here I was … walking around to the block of the neighborhood villain. I approached his front porch and saw him sitting there, staring off into space. I wanted to stop but my feet just kept on moving. Before I knew it, I was at the store buying candy. On the way back I had built up enough courage to stop in front of Eddie’s porch. I waved … he stared. I didn’t know what to do so I started to walk up to his steps to see if I’d get any reaction out of him.
I reached the top of the step and only a steel railing separated Eddie and I. He stood up and my heart started pounding. I felt like a snowman in the summer … stuck, cold and slowly melting away. Then something amazing happened … Eddie said “What’s Up”. I was trembling by then, not even knowing how afraid I truly was until this plan was put into action. Eddie had a voice, and a normal one at that. He walked over and opened the railing and told me to have a seat. “Brian, right?” Eddie said. I didn’t know how he knew my name but he did. “You’re dad is my brothers best friend.” Aaron was the brother he spoke of, a really good friend of my family. The news shocked me honestly, I had no idea but how could I really? No one ever spoke of Eddie and he never spoke himself.
I loosened up and we talked for what seemed like hours. Eddie explained how he knew he wasn’t the most social person and that people say negative things about him. He told me that people will make you out to be an enemy, just to be the hero. At the time, much of what Eddie explained didn’t really sink into my young mind. Looking back, that day, I learned a lot about people and how it’s best to get to know someone before believing anything anyone says about that person. Eddie turned out to be a really good guy and til this day we talk and share stories about the old neighborhood. I went back to my friends and told them that they were completely wrong about Eddie. They didn’t believe anything I said. Little did they know, they were missing out on a lesson that they would eventually learn one way or another … don’t judge a book by its cover.