There was a television show many years back called “227”. The comedy show was about a woman living on a Washington DC apartment complex who often sat on the stoops of the building where she engaged in gossip. I don’t remember much else about the show other than it also starred a woman named Jackée. The name just always stuck in my mind. What also stuck with me was the image of the women sitting on the building steps or stoops (whichever is your preference) talking as the world walked on by.
In the old television shows of yore (perhaps the time Mr. Trump wishes to take America back to) they showcased neighborhoods that had white picket fences, lemonade stands and mothers waving goodbye to the husband after which she went back to bake some cookies. In my South Bronx neighborhood, kids played in the fire hydrant water stream, women peered out the windows, and the men played dominoes at the corner grocery. Or rather the bodega. Besides peering out the windows, women also gathered around the building entrances to discuss the happenings of the day.
For me building stoops were a place to get the latest scoop. They were also the place to try to avoid as I was not necessarily popular in the neighborhood. Thus, climbing over the gathered people at the stoop to get into the building was always an ordeal and an exercise in how much bullying I could tolerate. I didn’t get bullied as much as just get name called. I was often called nerd which is fine by me nowadays. I wear my nerd label quite proudly. Thank you Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
All this to say I didn’t have much fondness for stoops despite the TV show 227 trying to make it a funny, magical, homey place.
In my travels, and even as recently as two weeks ago in South Africa, I have experienced and seen a different side to “stoops.” For instance there is the Spanish Steps in Rome that are magnificently crowded and give one much to sit and watch. It serves as a real-life 227 television episode. There were the steps in Kyoto that served to wish one well in the travel journey. Steps across the globe serve to bring people of all different walks of life together to experience a moment in time. Steps are magical and also provide a short reprieve to a walker such as myself that has often walked more than 22,000 steps in one day while touring a new city. I look forward to these worldly steps and taking my son up and down the stoops of the world. He has made many friends on those steps. May he continue to do so and not be judged.