JUST MUSING: “A little bit of random…”

If we as a society reward ingenuity, survival skills, certitude attributable to some quality other than pure luck, I firmly believe something is awry. Never, never, never have “it” – “they” – this “thing” needed anyone’s help to survive. Never appearing on any endangered species list; bounties be damned and even if subject to a bounty, the first hundred killed immediately supplemented by hundreds, thousands moving the dead, laughing at the futile effort, before disappearing into places we dare not imagine. Chemists remain befuddled, intimidated, refusing to admit failure. Lesser creatures appear on cans of insecticide – not them, no not them – to do so would constitute false advertising.

When outer-worldly event occur, not a problem; survivor of storms, plagues; any tragic events we do onto ourselves, remaining forever constant. Possessing magical abilities – first the antennae, looking here and yonder, serving sentry for others, out of the rubble, wounds; scattering hither. A good laugh is always heard, an evolutionary laugh is theirs, sacrificing a few in their exploration, conquest, survival; laughing all the while, consuming and defecating along their merry way. Through the undefined and dangerous muck, to live another day – yes they do, yes they do.

My wonderment you ask. Why has the ubiquitous cockroach been flat out ignored while honor has been bestowed on others. Never the favorite son or daughter in the populous states (California – dogface butterfly) (Texas – monarch butterfly) (Florida – zebra longwing butterfly) (New York – nine-spotted ladybug), nor in the least populous (Alaska – four-spot skimmer dragonfly) (Vermont – honeybee) (Wyoming – Sheridan’s Green Hairstreak Butterfly). The cockroach has been ignored. This should change.

Thou dost protest too much. No, no, I dost not.

I read recently there is a resurgence of horror movies in Movie Land. Without checking, I bet not one pays homage to the cockroach. Why not, they’re everywhere, Germany, Surinam, Australia, Madagascar, the African continent, Asia, Europe, the Americas. The person who screams “what’s that” is lying. They know what they saw, no matter their origin. Hollywood has been criticized for telling the same story, over and over again and for the documented failure to engage in a bit of diversity. Let me help on both counts.

Nothing scares the soul more than just one cockroach greeting you in your bed, moving from underneath, to the pillow, jumping gleefully off the bed – heard laughing (I swear to God they are laughing at us) – before escaping in a never seen crack. The movie producer would only have to take one take, only one, to scare the bejeebies out of every movie goer. Of course, everyone would refuse to go back again, moving from chair to a standing position, out the door; missing the ten thousand in the climatic shower scene. Alfred Hitchcock would be relegated to a bygone voice in history: The Birds – no one would ever be frightened again by a bunch of pitiful, squawking birds. The Psycho’s shower scene? – The actress would reach and grab a towel and leave early, spoiling the scene when she reads further down the script – ten thousand cockroaches will come up from the drain.

Pay tribute to the cockroach. Why not? Even if we were to accord them the honor -which is long due – no one is going to complain the trailer in movie reads, “All the cockroaches in the movie were real. All were exterminated and not released to the wild.” Even the cockroaches will laugh.  And PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – expect them to be as quiet as a damn butterfly; which seems to be liked by so many states.

The other disclaimer: “All the makeup used on the actors/actresses was tested first on the unpaid, unappreciated cockroaches – didn’t hurt them a bit.”

And, Happy All Hallows’ Eve to you!

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JUST MUSING: “Sometimes we break eggs along the way…”

Moving downward – reaching, grabbing – retrieving items from the basket, in order to place them on the conveyor belt. A practiced routine – daily, every other day, no particular, defined pattern – an imperfect routine, dependent more upon whim, a particular meal, a recipe. Grouping items in bunches, colors – perhaps controlled by a third eye, rationalizing the behavior over time – I am helping the cashier, the sacker. Maybe … maybe … maybe … I will admit one day my behavior is actually a testament to an attention deficient personality. Creams, butters, dairy in one group; vegetables and fruits in another; juices, water, paper products assigned to different space, assigned places on the belt – each separated by a perceptible, defined spacing.  Pretending not to care, caring, indeed caring.  Working silently, with due diligence, forever hoping the cashier, sacker, other customers would ever notice – much like life, until it becomes too much like life.  Grabbing the eggs, moving much too fast, erratic movement – slinging, a wide angle taken – causing the eggs to dislodge from the paper carton, onto the floor, the belt, seeing images – the appearance of the marbles of my youth, thrown in the circle prior to the participant, standing next to me, taking his turn.

I should have taken the eggs’ movement as a warning. If I was only so blessed, so possessed. I am not. I was not.

Perhaps a sign, a flashing light should have appeared.  I have read in a number of stories a light appears.  Defining movement of the sun – that day; the moon – that night, this too did not occur.  Telling animal behavior, moving from one field to the next, tell-tale signs of death, if we care to notice – none of these occurred this day.

Nothing to read, nothing to decipher; the events just happened – befell – tumbled out from the recesses, much like those eggs; tumbled over and out, breaking through, causing unexpected, deviant behavior.  My behavior:  moving out the door, walking twenty miles in the middle of the night, into the morning; texting back to the location left, explaining my behavior had nothing to do with anyone but myself. Seeing my father eyes, a harrowing history conveyed deep in the recesses of those exceptionally dark pupils, knowing he escaped and left us years before his death, to another world.  Seeing those eyes with each step, trying to remind myself of the promise I made during my youth, to never trudge in his path, that path, seeing his trail, step by step, inch by inch, dutifully I trudged. Controlled by one portion of the mind, instructing me to walk, while another part of the brain protested, telling me how silly I was; both watching me break every metaphorical eggs along the way.

Life is not perfect, never has been and never will be. If life was perfect, we wouldn’t have a reason to move to the next moment, hour, day, week; being able predict what awaits over the next hill is not at all comforting.  Never expressing emotions seems a rather dull existence. Absolutely, a little hint of what awaits is appreciated.  Some emotion is permissible. That moment, everything spilled out in abundance, in one fell swoop.

Breaking eggs, watching them tumble over and out, shattering. Engaging in an internal fight, trying to piece together emotions, fears, doubts with each step.  Pain radiating from the bottom of both heels; upward through both legs, arms; spreading out, before pooling – collectively – in the struggling and dueling spheres of the brain.

I expect some will never understand this muse.  Life for you may always be perfect; never a deviant movement, never too wide, eggs always remaining in place.  I get that.  I don’t get that.  All I can say – not in my world.

Listening to both voices, one saying walk, the other grabbing any article of clothing possible – holding, holding, holding – attempting to hold me in place – failing – following, silently out the door, onto the street, watching me swing widely, unexpectedly, breaking eggs along the way.  Knowing full well an emotional, internal struggle was playing out in full, living and glorious color.

No, I can’t explain fully why I broke – not now.  I can’t; emotionally I can’t.  I can assure you it was not because I was approaching another birthday.  Not because of the appearance of additional, graceful aging lines.  I will continue to admit my age.  I will continue to apply the supposed magical creams – so they tell us. They’re  magical, aren’t they?  I just can’t fully explain at this time. I pray admitting this much is sufficient, while I wipe, clean and pick up the evidence of the eggs spewed along the unexpected path. So I muse.

JUST MUSING: “Off with their heads…”

Forbes magazine’s self-description is “a leading source for reliable business news and financial information.”  Recently Forbes posted online – to immediately remove a short time later – an Op-Ed piece expressing the view Amazon – the corporate conglomerate – should replace local libraries to save taxpayers’ money. To be consistent, Amazon website provides, “online shopping from the earth’s biggest selection of books, magazines, music, DVDs, videos, electronics, computers, software, apparel & accessories, shoes.,…”

After reading about Forbes’ Op-Ed, I wondered to myself and then complained out loud whether the absence of brick and mortar stores prevented Amazon from replacing libraries. I am sure the absence of buildings is not what the author was addressing.

The position is not whether Amazon will let me/she/he/others escape from the heat, get a drink of water and read the newspaper. I am sure that is not the author’s concerns.

Will Amazon – the on-line retailer – provide access to me/we/us to their computers – for free – to research subject matters the corporate fathers/mothers may not agree with us seeing and then defend our rights to the highest courts in the land, without apology, because our rights are their rights.  The American Library Association does and continues to do so. Will Amazon do so?

How many library science majors does Amazon hire? I bet libraries hire more?

Wikipedia describes Jeffrey Preston Bezos as an American technology entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist, and the founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon. Recent reporting identified Bezos as the owner of the Washington Post newspaper. Does this connection mean that during any of our next trips to Washington we can sit in the aisles, roll about on the floor and laugh to ourselves at the novelists’ harrowing, funny, outrageous, stories, while the reporters continue to ply their trade, stepping over and around our bodies? Surely you jest!

Can I, will I, will they allow me/you/they – no matter my/yours/their economic status, race, creed, or color – to enter the corporate environs and participate in free community meetings, self-help programs, or relieve ourselves, wash off, escapes the hostilities of the outside world for a brief moment.  Being homeless doesn’t mean one loses ones’ sense of adventure, quest for knowledge, intellect. Does it?  Does it have to?  You don’t believe they are worthless do you?

Protecting history, educating us, allowing us to educate ourselves while climbing Mount McKinley for free, part of our collective gift to humankind, ourselves; this seems like the stated mission of corporate America.  Right…? … Maybe…? … Perhaps I am overreacting, as I am wont to do.

Maybe privatizing the public libraries will be as successful as the privatization of roads; solving traffic problems, making a class of people, and obscure corporate entities wealthy while toll booths continue to litter the landscape.  The bold attempt to privatize the interstate highway system continues as we speak.  I am sure this attempt has been the subject of opinion writers before they made their move, putting in place the first toll-booths.

Henry Ford understood the power of making money off the masses.  His proposal was to make an automobile everyone could afford, the Model T.  Ford’s vision worked, absolutely it worked.

Sam Walton wasn’t the first retailer who peddled his wares to the masses.  Walton sold cheaper, concentrated his expansion to small towns, before moving to the cities.  At some point in time Walton played to our patriotism, wrapping his products in the American flag.  This marketing gimmick worked.  Sure, others later revealed Walton was importing the products.  He ordered the flags and false labels of origin placed in the product by the manufacturers before shipping.  The world continued to turn.  We continued to watch his/his families’/Walmart’s wealth and dominance explode.  Turning on our long running soap operas, remembering we forget to purchase the next greatest thing at the store, while the world continues to turn.  Of course, other retailers continue to go out of business, replaced by a more profitable entity which continued to buy and sell in a scale previously unknown in the history of retailing.  Maybe, I worry too much.

The corporate landscape is replete with Forbes’ mythical Hall of Fame, women and men of vision, whose dreams, vision and subsequent wealth have become legendary. Corporate fields of dreams they are indeed.

This musing is not designed to debate the virtues or non-virtues of capitalism.  I do not muse to express a view Forbes’ opinion shapers will never get their wish – they may well reshape our vision and create a world where all books become digitize, available for viewing and purchasing online, allowing say, an Amazon, to replace public libraries.  A world I have a hard-time envisioning.  Perhaps…maybe … creating a system where those without online access are permitted access with something as simple as a Lotto ticket purchase?  Perhaps…maybe… two tickets will permit the purchaser to five minutes of access to the American Library System’s book collection. Ahem – well, not the American Library System – an Amazon, Google/Alphabet, Microsoft digitized version of Books-in-Print. I am sure the new system will not have a check out system.  I am sure they will give us an embedded membership card, permitting them to track our every movement.

Silence would be the prevailing noise when the issue of privacy comes up.  They will impose a “be nice to others policy”, while ignoring our questions about the absence of community forums, the ability to exchange ideas and values, or even to soar as high as the mountains, as low as the valleys.  I can see the corporate branding, paying the Jacksons to sing us a lullaby. “It is easy as 1-2-3; Or simple as Do-Re-Me.”

I can’t express shock at Forbes’ view – no, no, no – Forbes has expressed the same view before. Seems to me someone sees a profit opportunity in privatizing some of public libraries’ functions.  Maybe the opinion writers are setting the foundation for creating business entities/opportunities for this and the next generation of visionaries (if visionary is the right word).  Forbes’ posting/non-posting is designed to get us to start thinking about what the future will look like.  Forbes’ proposed world – ridding the world of those Library Science graduates, those lover of books and protectors our/their freedoms.  Off with their heads indeed seems to be the intent of the posting.

Corporate America seems to believe public libraries have deviated far and wide in their persistent efforts to make sure our histories, books and ideas survive in the many variations of the world we face in the often-times hostile, changing world outside of public library.  If we are honest, we would admit they’re right, seems they understand the persistent belligerence of those Library Science majors and the reprieve they provide to the public on public dollars.  They are wrong in all other respects.

 

JUST MUSING:“Liberté, liberté, liberté …”

A great lawyer once told a story about being informed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, during argument, the case in which he relied was no longer good law. The great lawyer understood the import of the judges’ observation.  The plans of mice and men were just that – plans – and unless the great lawyer came up with a new case and/or an alternative method of traversing the vines of justice, his trip to New Orleans was meaningless, a waste of time.

Looking left, right, staring directly at the great lawyer’s inquisitors (the judges), then downward at the podium was his next moves.  Yes they were.

The great lawyer kept his head down and gave no indications of the next move.  The inquisitors looked for signs of life.  Counting in his head, talking to himself, giving no outward sign of reacting to the inquisitors’ proclamation was the great lawyer’s tact.

Reaching a count of seven – he never said why seven – but seven was when the great lawyer grabbed some of the pages form the case book he brought with him to the podium.  The great lawyer made sure he had in his hands the first and last page of the relied upon case.  With a dramatic aplomb the great lawyer firmly ripped the pages from the book and exuded, “So much for that.”  The great lawyer then flung the dislodged (well actually ripped pages) outward.  Gravity took care of the rest, pushing the papers downward onto the courtroom floor.

The great lawyer never told said how the case was resolved; meaning he never spoke whether the inquisitors ruled in for him or against him.  Laughter prevented anyone from asking.  In hindsight perhaps the story was one an elder provides, an example of life’s lessons many lessons.

Let’s trudge a different path:  the art of cooking oftentimes is lost when the cook slavishly adheres to a recipe.  Deviating, veering off course, doing the unpredictable and unexpected sometimes lead to new discoveries.  Of course, sometimes traveling the road less traveled can lead to predictable disasters.  Applying both analogies, I believe our political system is on the road less traveled.  Ruts and boulders be damned, moving over and against foreign objects, unwilling to see the predictable disaster awaiting us; ignoring the gross deviation from political norms, day-to-day, hour-to-hour, tweet-to-tweet. Do we survive by mimicking the great, intemperate, trial lawyer; adopting silence, grabbing the known, ripping, tearing – pages from the Constitution – declaring a new day; flinging established principles into the sea, from sea to shiny sea.  One more egg – should be okay?  Red pepper instead of cinnamon, no problem…? So we say; so they say.  Ignoring commonsense, placing the concoction in a microwave oven – might as well – instead of a regular conventional oven, praying for the best.  Robust laughter, merriment abounds with our foolhardy decisions.

Veering down a littered path, passengers screaming while others continue to repeat  their constant refrain, “floor it … floor it … floor it”.  Funny, funny, funny, behavior – funny, funny dreams are ours.  While the rest of us fall asleep, watch in horror, or flat hope against reality.  Maybe we will come to our senses before ripping away, wholesale, provisions from previously supposed sacrosanct constitutional provisions.

Fake new – “Oh Lord he’s so funny…”

“Would? Wouldn’t? I choose both. I see nothing in the rules saying I can’t choose both.”  Scrabble, Scrabble, Scrabbling away … indeed we are.

Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia, or being influenced by Russia, against the president is extremely inappropriate and the fact that people with security clearances are making these baseless charges provide inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

The wonderful experiment has gone awry.  Telling us (the passengers), and the rest of the world (standing on the edge of the cliff, believing the President’s men and women promises the location was a safe place to stand), that we/they/this country didn’t mean any of the promises held out in the past – to us, others, immigrants, the world.

We saw what we saw.  We heard what we heard.  Instead we are told we didn’t see or hear either.  Hearing faint whispers, “off with their heads”, during the time he/she/they applied maximum pressure to the gas pedal.  Their acts are the deliberate act of returning to the days of yore, the good old days, the converting truth to lies, lies to truth.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has astutely told the rest of the world the United States can no longer be relied upon.  She needed not have said so.  The world has seen this cartoon before.  When the parts were cast for the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, we were not assigned the Roadrunner’s role.  We know how it ends.

She, Merkel, and the German people should help the French sneak in New York Harbor.  Attach two – three – four tugs to the Statue of Liberty (La Liberté éclairant le monde) (Liberty Enlightening the World) and bring the statue back across the pond.  Liberté, Liberté, Liberté …  the greatest, peaceful coupe d’etat the world has ever seen.

The great lawyer’s story was a wonderfully tale because the great lawyer threw anguish to the wind.  He – the great lawyer – exercised the unpredictable, refashioned the facts so as to move the case out of the twixt the inquisitors’ pronouncement had placed him.

He won?  He didn’t win?  Honestly don’t know; too busy laughing.

Our new plight differs.  We are coming dangerously close from being unable to stop in time.  No matter how entertaining/unpredictable/well told, this new tale’s conclusion – told by the Aw Gosh! Creator – has become abundantly clear.

JUST MUSING: “Donald in Wonderland…”

“Jimmy Dean sausage and eggs and perhaps some toast, white not wheat. Thank you, madam.”

“Thank you,” Chad said moving out of the view of the cameras; discrete, circumspect, deciphering the unusual request.  Smiling to herself, at the use of the word madam; he said it almost right, almost.

Later Chad retraced the same steps, and reentered the room.  She waited for an appropriate moment to inch forward, along the outward outline, receiving instruction of the pool producer she was permitted to move.

She inched closer, to emit a clear response to the request – at least she thought she was clear.  The response was delivered in a whisper – “Chef’s said, bunch…”

He – Complicit John – never expected this response.  He didn’t.

Complicit John was part of the world’s most powerful political contingent.  Moments before their contingent moved through the halls of the grand building, choosing a separate entrance, laughing at the “others”, who seemed shocked at the change in protocol. “We rock stars” – they bragged, which sounded like a misguided teen movie.  Breaking rules, wreaking havoc, turning the world upside down; up is down, down is up. Their sex, drugs and rock and roll is chaos.  They adopted a strange mantle, “famous, stable geniuses”; laughing at the rest of the world when they moved from one target to another.  They were their own weapons of mass destruction.  They never understood why the others laughed at their self-labeling.

Complicit John didn’t see Chad watch the contingent move down the hallway.  He was giggling with Complicita Sarah at the time.  Chad remembered him. She wondered about the awkward smirks.  He seems so cocksure – so she thought.

Complicit John repeated what Chad said, not because he didn’t hear her.  He was shocked she didn’t understand that her answer meant, “No”.  She couldn’t have meant, “No.”

Chad knew what she was saying.  Her response was clear, layered with an additional dose of incredulity – “Bunch!?”  Not at all unsure was the tone and manner.  A response as forthright as the forthrightness of reality and certitude burned her darkened skin hue.

Complicit John only saw Chad’s color.  In Complicit John’s world, Chad couldn’t say no.  Do what I say. Do what I want – his world, their world – a daily ride to Wonderland; a daily, discounted pass to Donald in Wonderland.

“Bunch,” she repeated, “bunch!” removing the question mark, accentuating the exclamation.

Complicit John had requested what he believed to be a Texas sausage – part of the base, so he thought.  Jimmy Dean was no longer a Texas sausage – if it ever was – long before purchased by a conglomerate.  Jimmy Dean was sold by the singer/originator in 1984 long before the singer/originator’s death in 2010.  Ironically (irony is one of those things which is full supply in Wonderland), Complicit John made the request even though he didn’t particularly like pork sausage.  A bit too spicy, made him gaseous.  One of the foods found on the list given to him by his doctor.  Written as a suggestion, implying he should avoid.  The suggestion was later converted to a demand – by his body – joining an additional list of foods he should assiduously avoid.  An unexpected frown and facial twitches always followed when Complicit John ate Jimmy Dean – if fact any pork sausage.  The frown was – always, always, always – followed by violent, silent gaseous odors, which appeared at the most inopportune times.  Jimmy Dean was ordered anyway.  To see what they would say, how they would react, loud enough so that everyone on the other side of table could hear him.  The world was their oyster.

Chad didn’t flinch.  Bunch meant brunch.  She wasn’t bringing him Jimmy Dean sausage and eggs, even if the kitchen had a dozen rolls in the kitchen.  It didn’t.

Moving quickly away, listening to the room fill with gaseous odors; away from Complicit John, past Elton John’s Comparator, who sat to the left of Complicit John.  She smiled at the Comparator, not because she liked him – the stable genius – she didn’t.  In addition, she flat out hated the Comparator’s comparison of himself and Mr. John.

He doesn’t like gays. I’m gay. Elton John is gay.

Furthermore Comparator can’t sing; at least she didn’t believe he could.  Sure she knew who Jim Nabors was; she wasn’t a friend of the late actor/singer.  When walking past she thought, he aren’t Jim Nabors, even in Wonderland.  She also knew John was famous / famous – white famous as one comedian has mused.  He is only famous in his own mind, infamous is better word.

Chad laughed when on the other side of the room.  Out of hearing distance of the odious, gaseous sounds, moving towards the kitchen for the first time, to tell the Chef what she had said.  She wanted to make sure he knew.  She lied on him.  She had never asked him about Jimmy Dean and eggs.

He didn’t mind.  Not in a thousand immigrant days did he object.  His history silenced any possible objection.  Chef Algiers travelled from Africa when he was eighteen, twenty years ago, and joined the French Army.  He was later was assigned to NATO.  When the position of chef came open five years ago, he applied and was hired.  He reasoned Chad, a native of Chad, technically didn’t lie on him.

Chad requested to leave early.  She told Algiers’ she intended to travel from Brussels to Great Britain – to cross freely over the border – an act she intended to repeat, as long as England remained in the Union.  Chad told Algiers she wasn’t going to visit relatives this time.  She wanted to join in the protest against the Great Comparator.  She hoped Complicit John saw her in the crowds.  She particularly wanted to see the Baby Comparator.

.

JUST MUSING: “Those were the days…”

The artwork was the familiar, contained on a business card – a little more than three inches by two inches – imbedded with a blended image of the great ape and people of color – my color, the Negroid race – making an explicit point. At the bottom of the picture, sometimes on the back, was the contact information for the Ku Klux Klan. The card was never handed out personally to me, meaning someone saying, “Here is my card, if you’re interested.” No, no, that wasn’t the point. Theirs wasn’t an invitation to join. Placed in the door jam, on the counter, slipped inside a book, near enough, close enough, so there wasn’t any misunderstanding who the intended recipient, our place on God’s green earth.

The act(s) was actually behavior more complex than the issuance of a simple business card. Behavior imbedded in the culture.

Language, art, the written word – benign and covert acts – powerful symbols capable of converting fruit to an obscene level, degrading, “Animal like creatures they are.” Watermelons, bananas – causing some who looked like me – including me – to refuse to eat those fruits in public. Theirs was a participatory sport, and they all participated, historians, social, physical, medical scientists – all participants – continually supported and provided cover for the differences in the species. In actuality they were enforcing a system of enforced inferiority, protecting a caste system at the same time.  This is where Roseanne Barr’s tweet was directed. Her act was no different.

It confuses me when we as a society pretend to not understand the outrage and why a publically traded corporation (Walt Disney Company) in this century refuses to participate in Roseanne’s revisionist tweet and why it – the corporation – decided not to allow her to continue to represent their corporate interest.

She apologized? She didn’t apologize? She took it back? She didn’t? It matters not, ABC/Disney properly said no – not this century, not this time was an appropriate response. If you have spent generations believing, I guess ABC’s actions are mind-boggling. If you find nothing wrong with the “joke”, this is why I muse.

I have told the below story before.  I will repeat it. It is apropos, even though the events took place over twenty five years ago.

______________________

I was visiting the client’s business at the time. I don’t remember the exact year. I don’t remember the particular season. I do remember the weather was seasonably hot and humid, accompanying us as we stood in the parking lot talking about the client’s new problem.

A Mississippi boy, thirty years my senior, who grew up at a time our attorney-client relationship – in all probability – would not have existed, would have not been permitted. At the time I had represented the client’s personal and business interests for five years. We had been successful in acquitting him against multiple criminal indictments and had at least three courts dismiss as many as fifteen different criminal cases filed against him and the businesses.

During our conversation, he – the client – looked my way, and frowned. His wasn’t a sun frown. He didn’t seem to have gas.  It seemed something else was bothering him.

“Mr. Griffin, how much money do I pay you a year?”

I shrugged a simple shrugged, both shoulders moving up, hands extending outward, not knowing why he asked; not knowing the exact amount, knowing a range instead.

“I don’t know Doyle, $50 – $60,000.00 a year for the last five years, on average.”

Doyle frowned again. He moved his head in the other direction, away from me, avoiding eye contact. Doyle’s frown and movement seemed familiar.

The frown was not the frown seen when someone bites too fast, too deep into a lemon. No different, his was a historical frown. The same frowns etched across faces on those Fort Worth’s buses, when we – as children – entered and sat anywhere we wanted, besides them – white women, white men – part of the dismantling of segregation. The difference on the day I stood with Doyle, in Texas’ relentless heat, was time had continued to changed.

I never questioned those I sat near on the bus. Absolutely, I was insulted – and hurt – when their frowns were coupled with their moving both face and nose, like we stunk. I brought the event to momma. She explained racism nicely, and explained to “play them no mind.” I never questioned those sitting in the bus though. I questioned Doyle, about what my eyes saw, what my memory said.

“Doyle, can I interpret your frown?”

Doyle being Doyle, answered, with Mississippi accent still intact, “Sure Mr. Griffin, be my guest.”

So I did. I took a swing. Smooth as Bobby Bond’s swing – bat back, arms straight, stepping forward and through – swinging pure and sweet.

“You thought you would never see a day, growing up in Mississippi, where you would ever pay a Black man that kind of money…that was the frown I saw Doyle.”

And not to my surprise, Doyle answered, “You’re right Mr. Griffin, except I didn’t think the words, ‘black man.’ I thought another word. I thought only one word instead.”

I didn’t laugh. Doyle didn’t laugh. We didn’t need to. Ours was the act of sharing a bit of honesty and history. I said what I saw. He confirmed what I saw, correcting me for using two words instead of one. He knew he couldn’t use the word anymore and wasn’t about to do so. We wished each other well. He went back to work. I did too. When I was driving off, I understood things were a changing, something folks like Roseanne and her ilk refuse to accept, forever wanting to return to those years of psychological comfort and imposed superiority.

JUST MUSING: “So I pray…so I muse…”

I am confused. Staring and studying photographs. Wondering why the captured images possess extended lips. I saw something else when peering into other’s worlds – Georgia stood in the corner ready to pounce. I admit Georgia’s was not a defined image. She still hovered much like she did when we were children, while commanding – “Put your lips in.” Georgia viewed the extended lip condition as defiance to her chastisement, whether verbal or physical. Georgia’s image in the photos is more ghost-like, an image engraved into my imagination. Causing me to remember, cry, but don’t cry too much; be careful not to extend your lips. Knowing, always knowing – engraved into a child mind – it will take her a little time to calm down because of our/us/we/she/he/me doing what we had done wrong.

A single mom attempting to keep seven children out of harm’s way, making sure we understood it was necessary for us to be frightened of at least one person on God’s green earth – her. Don’t be confused, we were afraid. We recognized Georgia as the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, running the roost – her roost – on Perry Street.

What strange poses? Arms extended outside of the frame, an unseen object in one of their hands, everyone’s lips pursed. I have never heard of Lime disease before – not Lyme disease, Lime disease. A disease caused from eating too many limes, causing ones lips to pucker. No, never have, but clearly these friends and strangers are so infected. The condition must be a communal disease; in every picture his/her/their lips seem to display the same distorted extensions.

What on earth! Poor souls!

Georgia’s wont and commands were simple:

“Stop crying!” “You will listen to my instructions next time!” “I will give you something to get mad at … don’t push your lips out at me!”

No, no, no, Georgia wasn’t an abuser, more of an enforcer; a benevolent ruler, who always extended a warning before taking action; one time, twice, three times. “If you don’t understand… if you do … if you do … You do understood, don’t you? Do it again, and I will beat you until your head roke like okra!”

We had never cooked okra when the warning was first uttered. We were children had eaten it, but never cooked it. The physical properties of okra were unknown to us. We didn’t have to ask what roke or rokes meant; having some understanding the origin of the word wasn’t necessary. Georgia’s sentence structure and the words used provided sufficient understanding of what she meant. The meaning wasn’t good.

Our lips – we couldn’t do anything about them. We be children of color, existing in a balmy South. The only thing we knew about lip altering procedures was to “drink plenty of water to keep them from cracking”. We were the “you know what Vaseline is, don’t you”, generation.

It took years before one of us finally explained to Georgia, “Momma my lips aren’t sticking out. They are made this way.” Her warning face was on at the time. This time – that time – the face melted. Not like okra. More like butter, losing definition and form, taking away structure; melting, clarifying, revealing a change in condition, converting from a solid substance to a liquid one. She bent her back forward; both hands grabbed both knees; a soft sound emitted initially, followed by a hearty laugh. She wiped both eyes, turned in the opposite direction, saying nothing else. The laughter had become personified. Or perhaps she permitted it to continue, giving permission. Either one, it resumed, resonating – extending out, filling the small space, granting permission for her charge to laugh. Laughter which invaded every nook and cranny; one of many cherished moments – knowing her love was greater than any contemplated punishment for our/my/his/her malfeasance.

Art Linkletter when he was nearing his 100th birthday explained the greatest invention in his lifetime was the advances seen in the medical sciences; extending lifespans, curing diseases, ceasing life-sapping plagues. Linkletter died on May 26, 2010, at the age of 97. With Linkletter’s quote in mind, oh how I wish the medical scientists figure out a cure for this terrible disease. None of its victims ever attach explanations to their social posts. Go Fund Me requests are absent. I am sure some of us would happily extend help with medical costs. I have seen no posts educating us with what “they too” are experiencing. Celebrities have remained quiet when they should not; Harvey Weinstein/Bill Crosby quiet, secrets contained in cloistered and exclusive circles.

Looking closely, I noticed some of their lips were “like that”, extended naturally; surely not that naturally. Others were not as naturally endowed – they too though were pouty, extended, afflicted by this horrible disease. A non-discriminatory predator – everyone pursed, soured, extended in a distorted manner. These electronic images remained engraved into my frontal lobes causing me to be concerned for the safety of strangers/friends/love ones/others.

So I pray. So I muse.