The yuppies arrived on the first warm Saturday in May. Two came at ten, as scouts, walking up and down the block smoking Cuban cigarillos. By eleven, they trickled by, but by noon it was a torrent of Gettas, Cabrios, and restored Volvo 240’s littered with stickers reading “MV” and “LBI”. They knocked down old men carrying bread and figs bought that morning at the market. One grabbed Mamma Rosario by the hair and pulled her down the flight of stairs, and then, without showing mercy, beat her with a natural fiber broom bought at the Pottery Barn.
They ripped down the fish market, hauling the stalls away, and installed poppy filled planters and wrought iron café tables. They turned the shipping office into a gourmet coffee stand and between evictions, they sipped lattes. Two Mexican boys were badly burned by scented votive candles.
The Pawn Shop mutated; the owner, an Arab, painted the door purple, and changed the sign to P.S. Antiques. The yuppies embraced the Arab man because he was exotic. He sold them armoires beaten and scratched as they were handed down to brothers and sisters and cousins, sold to him for half their value and then bought by yuppie couples for twenty times what the Arab paid, twenty times what he was asking the day before.
Javier stood on the corner holding his black and white television set. The yuppies, seeking relics and novelties from their excursion knocked him down and took the set, leaving the bunny ears on the sidewalk. At first they thought they would use it for showing how chic they were, rebelling against the television culture by watching Friends on a grainy black and white. But then they realized they had no reception without the unsightly antennas, so they opened it up, took out the guts, planted daisies and put it on the stoop.
They tore through Lou’s Taste of Mexico, ransacked Picken Chicken, and broke down the place that sold falafel. Within the hour they were all replaced with fusion ethnic, rarefied for the pale palettes of indifference. Tai Parisian fusion, Indo-Paki-Italian fusion, Outback-Southern fusion, everything fused, a homogenous mix with the flavor of carbon monoxide. Two boys who worked out of Picken Chicken tried to fight them but were stripped down by the crowd, covered in grease from the fryer, and feathered with one hundred percent genuine goose down.
Seeing all hope was lost, the families, holding the last of their possessions not yet confiscated, slung bags over their shoulders and turned west into the setting sun. The caravan wandered away from the neighborhood they knew. Children cried. Women wailed. The sight was a modern trail of tears.
The yuppies, enjoying cocktails, waved. What sad, forlorn ethnic people, they thought. They would honor this day to honor them. They would celebrate diversity and the following year, they promised, there would be a festival, held at one of the local fusion restaurants, to memorialize—
They drank Apple Martinis.