Out walking today, enjoying the sunshine, when my friend Godfrey pulled into the yard in front of me, honking and waving from his taxi van.
“Miss Judith! Having a stroll? You looking good!”
I thank him: I am in fact getting a little stronger and more agile every day, and today I sat in the sun for a while. I tan quickly, so my skin is taking on a healthy brown glow and my Seasonal Affective Disorder is about gone, so I am even smiling as I walk.
My skin will never be as dark as Godfrey’s, of course, nor will my eyes ever be as bright blue. Not much I can do about that, but I can learn from his optimism and his enjoyment of life.
Today, however, Godfrey is worried. As we talk, we’re watching the young men of Tarpum Bay stroll up and down King Street. It’s the middle of a Monday afternoon, and there are probably a dozen or so handsome guys wandering up and down the street, smoking cigarettes, bored. “These young people,” he says, “it’s a shame. They doing nothing. It isn’t like when we were kids.”
I nod appreciatively.
“We worked,” he continues (in Bahamian dialect, it comes out ‘woiked’). “We worked every day. And I still work every day!” Godfrey drives a cab, rents cars, and owns several rental cottage in Tarpum Bay.
“And we took care of ourselves. I still do, even if I got The Sugar. I went swimmin’ this morning. I likes to go every day, and if I can’t get my exercise I feel like something is missing.
“Now these youth,” he continues, nodding toward the parade of young men, “they don’t do nothing worthwhile. They just walks around, do some drugs, get in trouble.
“And the girls (‘goils’), they’s worse. All they wants is some quick cash.
“Now Miss Judy, I never was no angel. I usta like my rum, I did. And maybe a little, you know, smoke now and then. And I always liked the ladies—still do, in fact. But I took care of myself, and I worked all the time. I did my bidness, and I was successful. These youth, now, they don’t get it. They’s gonna ruin our island. I fears it, Miss Judy. I do.”
Godfrey puts his cab in gear, backs up, and drives away. Before I could tell him that he’s not alone in this world.