JUST MUSING: "Boy don't play me…"

With the passage of time those sage reminders by elders fade, converting into irrelevant, unwise tales.  “Make sure you have enough money on you to make a call”, has now been relegated to the garbage bins, wasted advice.  Pay phones no longer exist – not in the sense we knew them – magically converted to a small body appendage, appearing in every picture, attached from dawn to dusk, from bed – to toilet – to bed; a newborn should pray our evolution mean they too would get this kind of attention.  No, no, no, this new appendages are not to be lent for a nickel, dime, quarter to make an emergency call, and even if they are, who remembers any numbers?  A quarter…? A dollar..? Uber …? Lyft…?  There was a recorded voice which played when there was a disconnection on pay phones.  The voice is gone.  Not needed when the realization hits, the amount of money we were told to carry is insufficient to receive any type of service.      

“Always wear clean underwear…” – we were told.  Why we asked?  “Just in case you are in an accident …” This too has to be discarded – not to be recycled – even though the elder’s advice was grounded – somewhat – in history also.  Not wanting you to embarrass him/her, ”your” people – dead or alive – having to come down to the morgue, hospital to look at your body – injured, or dead – with dirty, torn, or worn underwear.  What could be worse?  A persistent, palpable fear of living after an accident; not wanting to be miraculously saved – if you were not wearing pristine undergarments; seeing living as a greater sin than death; wishing to die on the spot.  Death truly more becoming.    

Preaching, preaching – preaching pride – “don’t embarrass your people.”  This too gone – discarded waste, with LP’s, eight tracks, cassettes, CDs – no matter how many times an elder preached, “I don’t want to love nobody but you,” attempting to convince one of the wisdom of their advice – “don’t embarrass your people”.  This no longer matters; they do, they will – shock the rest of us. 

Rear ends exposed, below the crack, way below the crack, causing those passing to turn in shock; taking the mystery away (“Mamma that boy ain’t got no butt!”), causing elders to cry and scream outwardly, “how in the hell anybody let you get out the house like that…!” – To themselves; to others; to anyone willing to listen – because no one corrects somebody else’s child.  A change in time, generations, no longer community bound, not giving a flip his family is embarrassed, no longer subject to an elders’ yolk (meaning grabbing and snatching somebody else’s child and correcting their behavior, even this means embarrassment, screaming; physically striking the wayward child) or is the word, yank. 

“When you leave this house, your last name is intact.  When you come back, your last name shall remain intact.”  Ha!  Gone too, out the door; not even answering the question, “who your people”; viewing themselves as island nations, cursing elders, talking to the parent with disrespect, while those observing this behavior ducking, seeing the hand of a long-dead parent, grandparent, great-grandparent striking them side their heads for someone child’s disrespect.  Caught in never, never land, not knowing how to response to the changed behavior, while the spirits will never understand how times have changed.  The same applies for the disrespectful ones; they will never understand why we quake in fear. My momma would surely snatch every breath out of me, if I dared do what that fool did!   Thinking, thinking, thinking, while watching, wanting to reach, and snatch the wayward child back one, two generations.

Years ago a middle age woman visited with me wanting to hire me to represent her interest.  She was accused of a criminal offense of striking her child, something about abuse, an act she readily admitted doing, and would do the same again,

“Abuse…! … No child of mine is going to talk to me like that.  He was wrong.  If he can’t accept discipline and think he is grown and has no fear of anyone, I swear that as long as I am on God’s green earth, I will do the same thing…!” 

Face flushed, both hands balled.  She moved uncomfortably in the chair before screaming, “I don’t care how much it cost, tell me an amount, I be damned!” 

I did.  She did – pay.  I showed up for court.  She did too. 

When the case was called by His Honor, we moved together toward the bench.  Five, six feet from reaching His Honor, this brown toned momma raised her hand stopping me in my path, shocking the Judge with her sudden movement.  She had our attention.

“Judge, how much is the maximum fine for what I am accused?”

He – the Judge – told her the same amount I have given her.  He seemed prepared to give her the speech that he only wanted a plea of guilty or not guilty, that the trial would be on another day.  Before he could ask why, she put one hand, then two into her purse pulling out cash.  She inched forward, leaned slightly and placed the cash on His Honor’s bench. 

“This is twice the fine.  Do with what you want.  I will beat him again when you release him from Child Protective Services’ custody, if he dare speak to me again like that.” 

I didn’t say a word.  I saw my momma standing next to me.  Transposed?  Transfixed?  I don’t know the right word which described a fear which borders between reality and imaginary.  Knowing my mother would have done the same thing – to me – if I dare said what the client’s child said to her, after she was required to chastise him.  If Georgia said she was going to beat your head like okra, I guarantee there would be slime all over the floor.  I always said nothing.  I always did nothing.  I stayed in my place, the proper lane, knowing there was no greater fear on earth than Georgia’s wrath. 

I don’t know if the Judge saw his mother in her image.  I don’t know if he thought she was a hologram.  I be lying if I said otherwise.  I wouldn’t be lying to say he didn’t say a word.  Shocked, befuddled – he, too a participant – a time traveler – knowing she wasn’t lying about what she was going to do.   

“I be damn…”  She never finished the sentence, but I knew how the sentence always ended.  The end of the story was written generations ago, mimeographed in the crevices of the brain.  And of course mimeograph machines are gone too.  Try this – like a movie on a repeat reel (you don’t know what a movie reel is —-?).  How about Black Momma 101? –  something which is said over and over again, to you, your brothers and sisters, anyone who will listen to what she will do if her rules are violated again. “One more time; one more time”, accompanied by balled fists, pursed lips, a change in color/hue, before turning and exiting the courtroom.  She left a silly lawyer – who now had reverted to childhood – dumbfounded.   His Honor sat still for a moment, waiting for me to say something … anything.  I had nothing.  He smiled.  I smiled.  He collected the cash and placed it in an envelope and called the next case.        

Playboy didn’t see the changing of standards.  Penthouse didn’t either.  Their entire business model was based on the prohibited; peeking, covering, hiding the magazines – under the bed, the couch – reading the articles, so they said.  Then the change occurred, without fanfare, a clear change.  A different world it was – not the television show – literally a different world; a different definition of pornography – perhaps; a different definition of vanity, maybe.  Click, click – skin for days – leaving nothing for the imagination, more readily available than Diet Coke; no matter how many sales Coca Cola runs to increase sales, stripping Playboy and Penthouse of their mantle. 

“No she didn’t walk out the house with that on!” … followed by “she did!”  With those in shock having no idea what she didn’t have on when she posted on Instagram.  Buddy Miles – the American rock drummer and singer – penned lyrics lamenting, “my mind is going through them changes, I feel like I am going out of my mind” – only he too didn’t have a concept.  These times have changed.   

“Always comb your hair…” – meaningless.  Tossed, no flung@ … just like cow dung across a metaphorical field as the pride movement took a turn, a wayward turn, down different road, detouring, trashing advice along the way; causing heads to appear in public which would have never appeared in public generations before.  “She beat that boy across the street, pushed him into the kitchen.  She asked him if he wanted something to eat.  He said no, she hit him again, pulled him over to the sink and put his head down in the sink and washed his nasty head.”  Buddy Miles died in 2008.  He had no earthly idea.      

 Pick one, any one, age old adages which served their purposes, established societal boundaries now tossed the same as the gadget which was supposed to have changed our lives forever, and ever, and ever, now replaced by a new thing-a-ma-gig; adding to confusion among a certain element of an aged-segment of the citizenry; looking hinder and yonder, searching for guidance, anywhere.  It’s a hard life, hard life and I believe, I/we/us are entitled to complain, telling the rest of slow his/her/their roll.  But you know what, none of which I have written is the real reason I muse.  No, no, I said what I said to make clear life’s lessons are best revealed by the stark light of craziness. 

Talking in riddles, spewing non-sense, making others complain about the erosion of his skill level, while he continues to do the same dance – over and over again – getting by with the same lies, and obfuscations.  Picking up one hand, then the other, saying he had the object in one when there was nothing in either.  Telling the listener not to believe what they saw.  “Worked once,” – he said out loud – “and will work again”.  Saying one thing one moment (on camera) and denying what he said, moments later (on camera) then unabashedly denying he said either version in the same run-on sentence – making a different point, “don’t believe what you hear”.  While he couples this conduct with an eerie, haunting laugh, not a chuckle, self-possessed laughter; hearing a joke we didn’t hear, while unknowingly the laughter possesses us/we/everyone, working to defend and justify his and his friends’ errant behavior – this is Crazy-Ass Uncle Rudy’s wont.  You know, Uncle Rudy, America’s Mayor.  He has succeeded once, twice, thrice with this routine.  He figures he can pull off the same act once again. 

Black folks share with the America’s diaspora much – dance, song, food, style, language.  I muse to say we have failed to share another aspect of black culture.  Oh sure we permit the entertainment industry to make fun of the black females, dressing men in drag, providing a racist/sexist treatment of the historical sternness which has kept families intact, black children safe, culture and tradition in place.  What we haven’t shared is stark and real-world forthrightness which controls the Crazy Rudy routine.  Pick one hand up, then other both with nothing in either and then ask which hand, invites, “Boy don’t play me.”  Say one thing, then another then deny making the statement – use your imagination as to what our/my mamma would have done.  You lie – you die. 

After the client exited the courtroom, she received a call from the State telling her to retrieve her child, a time and location was provided.  The person on the other end of the phone didn’t have time to say much more.  She terminated the call.  The State called back.  “I know baby, I heard you.  You can keep him.”  She remained consistent – she terminated the call again.  The fool called back again.  She wasn’t deterred, she wasn’t intimidated.  She made clear the rules of her house, “no child of mine is going to act out at school, refuse to listen and then talk back to me.  No child dear.  It is hard enough to raise a black male child in this environment of permissive.  I’m not going to have my child talk to me like that again.  Until he gets that, apologizes, you can keep him.”  She again did what she did – she terminated the call.

Two days later she received a call at work.  On the line was a crying child, crying much like a colic child – coughing, heaving – saying he loved his momma, he was sorry.  “I’m sorry momma.  I want to come home…”  She listened, coldly.   She used her don’t care voice, layered with an incredulous tone and the look evoked by Crazy Uncle Rudy’s behavior.  She then did the unexpected – “I’ll will think about you can come home” – and went back to work. 

Years later I ran into the client on the street.  I asked her about her youngest.  She smiled.  Her skin tone brightened, both hands moved freely – joyful free – before telling, “Never had another problem.  I picked him up a week later.  He never made below an ‘A’ after his two week stay; he went on to college and just finished his masters.  …mannerable-kind soul – takes care of his family, respectful…” 

She didn’t have to finish her sentence.  I knew how the sentence ended.  I had heard the If he didn’t speech before, seeing the movie play out in black mommas’ eyes, previewing the coming feature – an impending death – if he/she/Crazy Uncle Rudy dare do what he/she/Crazy Rudy did again. 

Mueller did.  Comey did.  A whole federal system of checks and balances did, permitting unlawful behavior to play out in full display, telling us we didn’t see what we saw, hear what we heard, permitting Crazy Uncle Rudy to play us, until someone dare say, boy don’t play me.     

JUST MUSING: “You’re so vain…”

Vanity is defined as excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.  The American songstress Carly Simon introduced the song You’re So Vain in 1972, telling the story of an aberrant, conceited lover or mate.  This muse is about vanity in one sense; it has little to do with an aberrant lover or mate.    

The television show Saturday Night Live is arguably the most dominant force in comedy for the last three to four decades.  The franchise has introduced and nurtured writers, producers, actors, and comics who have held sway over the comedic world.  For years, the show was a reflection of the dominant society, a homogeneous group of white comics who originated from familiar venues (Second City in Chicago by way of example), providing a consistent and familiar brand of humor, even as comics came and went. 

The creators/producers remained tone-deaf for years, never understanding why the others may never get the joke.  The same old, same old – over and over again – never able to find any women of color, until magically they did; the show even moved past the rule of one (we have one, why are you complaining rule).   Writers forever crafting scenes where black male comics were asked to wear a dress, poke fun of black females, as if there were not black female comics in the world who could poke harder, in a less racist, sexist manner.  Change has been slow, remember it wasn’t until someone said no, to the dress and mocking black females, did the show magically find one – some black females comics.  No Asians, no Hispanics – never part of the formula – always the brunt of the joke.  One of the comics hired this new season was a white male whose routine incorporated the debasement of Asians and women; humorous to some – the same dilemma – not to others. 

The news account explained that when the newly hire comic’s habit was discovered, the comic was terminated.  When asked about his fortune, then misfortune, the comic explained sometimes you succeed, sometimes to you.  A half-hearted apology followed – we have all probably extended the same apology – “if I have offended anyone.”  He then moved on, bragging he was good enough to be hired by Saturday Night Live.  After the initial storm, comic after comic blamed the public, that we – the public – have become less tolerant of comedy.  I muse to disagree.

Comedy is the art of observation, the examination of the surrounding world – a sad, tragic, horrifying, terrific, happy world it is – and then translating his/her/our/their observations of this sad, tragic, horrifying, terrific, happy world through words, images, or physical display in order to permit others to look inward, outward; the affect sometimes displayed by tears, laughter, moans and disbelief. 

I’m sure the human soul has laughed and cried since day one; crossing continents, moving across plains, foraging for food, making babies; while some smart mouth among the collective commented on the crooked tooth wholly mammoth moving closer, closer, closer while the rest were able to only see their impending death, he/she/they slowed their flight away and told a joke.  Telling jokes during conquest – “I killed ten Mate!” – while others in a different position (those conquered or dead) never got the joke.  Slaves did more than sing songs.  They told jokes too- bet you they did. Our distorted history would have us believe the minstrel characters were those comic, not those who were strong and brave enough and tell the joke from the perspective of the enslaved, not the master.  Funny to some, never, never, never funny to others; this is why the heirs of the enslaved will never get the joke of wearing blackface, no matter how well done, no matter how many teeth one shows, no manner how many more pictures spill out into the public forum showing the heirs and beneficiaries of the enslavers/conquistadors/colonists sharing a good hearty laugh, while dressed in character, with darkened skin – ha, ha, ha – indeed, ha, ha, ha. 

Telling the joke in honor of ones peoples’ plight; done well, into the night we laughed, reliving history, making history, surviving.  This why we complain, not because people and humor have changed.  We haven’t changed and comics haven’t either. 

The white male comic whose racist and sexist taunts were discovered after his hire is no different than others in the past.  His jokes were not told from the perspective of a people surviving gas chambers but told through his eyes only.  When caught he should have said as much.  Absolutely, the white male comic is no different than the black male comic who sought fit to bash gays.  I am sure he has spent a lifetime polishing his routine, compensating for his height after being teased by others, while those of his ilk laughed, laughed, laughed.  Telling the joke from a presumed privileged position, making someone else the brunt of the joke, casting aspersions on what he sees as his wholly mammoth.  Sputum followed by a cough, tears, laughter at the expense of another, followed by coughs, and tears of the others, forever incessantly made the brunt of the jokes.  The black male comic issued the same apology the white male comic uttered – must be taught in comic school – and went back to slashing and burning the gay wholly mammoth.    

Sure a comic has to take risks, that’s their calling isn’t it – causing the King and Queen to laugh, surviving, feeding themselves, their families, in order to retain their court jester role.  Forever standing tall – among classmates, using humor to make a point, causing teachers around the globe to understand, while she/he remained bent over, laughing.  Protesting wars, injustices, the abuse of power; using humor as both shield and sworn; good comedy is and can be both, at the same time.  A mediocre comic always reaches for the low hanging cheap joke and wonders why some can’t laugh.

 Walking through the forest, telling pee jokes; progressing, developing, maturing to breaking wind, body parts, bodily functions, stinky jokes and then to the ultimate tattoo – sex – a good percentage get stuck on sex (profane references to females and what they did, want to do to all of them), never to mature thereafter.  Comic all have and will continue to trudge the same developmental path, some grow and most do not.  Their blaming the public is why I muse. 

Child and Adolescent pediatricians have documented over time the development stages of children.  Comic are no different, they too go through the developmental stages of growth; developing a shtick, learning how to use timing and mannerisms to distinguish them from the other class clown, becoming a better observant of societal taboos, mores, does and don’ts, spreading their wings into politics, race, and world (sic) peas (sic).  The development is not all that complex.  We have all seen these developmental stages in our favorite comics. 

What I don’t understand are these comics/clown/jesters who ignore who or what they are and turn the finger the wrong way, blaming us for bad jokes (jokes that miss, insults, savage a group of people, and their own inadequacies – an inability to tell a joke which is inclusive.  No, no, no, please don’t hear me to say comic care should be touchy-feely people, caring about everyone feelings – that’s not who these people are – a good joke can be cutting, vicious, insulting, much like life. 

Historically, a dead court jester is a dead court jester.  He/she would love to take the bad joke back – she/he can’t.  “Off with his head” is not a pun.  We haven’t changed and they haven’t either.   Tell the joke, give it your best – isn’t that what you were told by your parents?  When you stray too far, examine why and who was insulted and be a big girl, big boy and either admit you went astray or stand by your joke, it’s just money and a job.  We’re civilized now, aren’t we! We are going to permit you to keep your head – won’t we!  Stop being vain, the song is not about you.         

JUST MUSING: “…’bounce, bounce’…”

New Orleans is regularly recognized as one of America’s unique cities, different from the cookie cutter variants seen in other municipalities; history, architecture, culture, different tongues, peoples and food blended together within a southern milieu.  The city regularly makes the news; festivals, sports, its people.  The most recent story: a McDonald’s employee attacking a customer because the customer had the gall to complain about the fries.  Is this story a manifestation of New Orleans’ uniqueness?                

The customer admitted he might have been abrasive – when reading this, I assumed as much. When viewing the video – it was so.  He was. 

The recording starts with an employee yelling – “Get out”.  A female employee interceded, and pulled the male employee away.  The customer – he too of the male persuasion – followed both.  The employees seemed to feel the customer’s presence.  The male turned and reengaged; pushing, shoving, hitting.  What, I thought…?  All over some nasty fries…?

Years ago, I visited America’s quirkiest city to attend a seminar.  On day two, three of us decided to venture out of the French Quarters.  We asked the concierge for a recommendation, somewhere to eat outside of the Quarters.  As an aside, the McDonald’s in the recently reported story is located on Canal Street, in the Quarters.  Moving slowly through the city – before GPS’ mass distribution – anticipation – longing for the New Orleans’ experience – and hunger were forever present.    

The restaurant was small, comfortable, and clean.  The crowd was a mixture of both locals and tourists.  After looking at the menu, I played safe, I ordered a chicken salad.  Let me explain why:  I have this theory about cooks and food.  Determining the skills or talents of a cook/chef/restaurant is best gauged by doing simple.  You don’t understand…?

Fish, chicken, a salad, basics; salt, pepper, garlic, butter; unblemished, not hidden, not distorted, not covered, and dominated by a sauce – doing simple.  If the restaurant advertises its breads, does it do the basic breads well?  Is it fresh, how is the crumb, is the texture consistent?  Few does, few can.  So I ordered a chicken salad. 

The insufferable August heat, local culture, our hunger were our companions while waiting.  When the food was served, we reverted to our childhood.  Silence! Pure and utter silence; looking down, to the right, left, at the others’ plates, guarding with one hand, eating with the other; racing to finish first, to get the first debs on seconds. 

My mother would periodically look over from the kitchen, commenting, laughing – “Slow down, y’all act like y’all are starving orphans.”  We weren’t – we didn’t care.  Silence – with the exceptions of slurps, gulps, coughs; working too hard, too fast, while doing simple. 

“Slow down…!”

“Yes, ma’am…!”  

Two bites I realized the mistake.  I had been given a chicken sandwich, not a chicken salad.  I waved to the waitress.  She came over, I told.  She went and told – whispering to an older woman, pointing my way – causing the older woman to approach.  She – the older woman – had greying tips – less than mine are now.  She was approximately my mother’s age – as I am now.  She took up sentry on left side.  Her leg touched both the table and me – shoulder, arm. my body.  Her eyes foretold peril.  I understood the touching, it too part of the message.  I felt six, seven, no older than nine.  I did.

And out-of-body experience she forced me into – I was.    

“What are you trying to pull…?

“Ma’am…?” 

“You’re trying to get free food…”

“Ma’am … No, ma’am, I just want you to know of the mistake so my bill can be adjusted…”

I said one thing. She heard another. 

My, “I, I…” was followed by those her telling, threatening eyes and a declaratory sentence.  A plain, simple, non-passive voice, declarations, she spoke … “We’re not giving you free food…!”    

I tried “I, I…” again – to no avail. 

“You saw your waitress put a sandwich on the table, and you still took two bites! You’re not getting free food!  You better shut up and eat your sandwich!”

The elder one turned and abruptly went back to the area of the restaurant she came from – the place she where she was told.  She extended the same gift before leaving thought – that frightful look.  I said what I said.  I swear I heard, “enjoy”.  I’m sure I reverted to six….

One of my companions was a New York, New Yorker.  I don’t remember her name.  I remember her to be a honey-colored woman.  She was one of the few women at the seminar.  she had spent the last two days fighting off the advances, using different tactics with each advance – smiling, frowning, cajoling, off-putting laughter, silence.  This escape from the hotel was her respite, suggesting lunch, moving toward the front desk of the hotel, asking for directions, moving comfortably into the restaurant, breathing an audible sigh of relief.  Her reaction – that day, that moment showed her other side.    

New York’s mouth went agape; both hands skyward, then outward.  A finger pointed at the elder one. I grabbed the finger, then her arm.  I moved the arm from one level another – lower, to the table.  In a New York, New York, kind-of- way, she raged – “How dare her!”  

“I’m sorry.  I wouldn’t pay.  I would have to go to jail.”

I dutifully ate the chicken sandwich.  I was horrified she pointed at Momma.  I waited for the invisible hand of Georgia to reach cross the room and correct her aberrant behavior.  Absolutely, you are free to laugh.  I am a big boy.  I ate the damn sandwich.   

I grew up in a segregated culture and viewed eating in public a hostile act.  Followed as a teen, as a young adult, wherever I went; forever the suspect – these are influencing factors.  Not permitted to eat in most eating establishment; watching and living the civil rights struggle in living, daily color; electing when and where to be the guinea pig.   These influences bubble to the over surface years – sometimes expectant behavior, most times not – over and over again.    

Trained to pick “carefully your conflicts”; avoid societal attempts (“you will be baited”) to make you react by persons in authority (“police, teachers, administrators, store owners”); move away, save and fight for another day – get home – avoid the seat reserved place in the jails for those who looked like you, for the slightest of infractions – was the advice.  Both told and learned behavior.

Existing in a well-enforced, generational-ingrained, apartheid-like system of rules and mores; the 1866 Civil Rights Act – the society ignored the law, didn’t it!  The 1964 Civil Rights Act passed one hundred years later, wasn’t it?  It was, I remember, I was ten.  Old enough to understand differences color imposed.  In language, rules, prohibitions, seen through the eyes of a child; laws admittedly implemented slowly, deliberately – daily, by the courts, store owners, the police.   

“They passed what?!  Civil rights law?!  You either leave or go to jail.”    

Let me debunk a couple of assumptions.  The sandwich was okay.  Nothing exciting, but this muse is not about food, nor is it about race.  The customer in New Orleans was white, the worker was black.  Look at the video.  The video has nothing to do with race; it is a video of two fools interacting in the night.  In my case, the elder was black, my mother-mother’s color, and everyone at our table were black.  I said – this muse has nothing to do with race.  I muse to say, instead of restaurant employees trying to physically assault customers when they complain, or accuse the customer of wanting free food, public establishments should remain conflict free zones.  Instead of customers pressing the point over bad food, insulting the workers, any untoward acts should be viewed as misguided and counterproductive.

҈            ҈҉            ҈

Years ago there was a small restaurant in my community, located in an alley, housed in a shotgun house.  A shotgun house is a small house, no more than one thousand square feet, twelve feet wide – “a shotgun fired in the front, will go through and through, entering and leave every room before exiting” – so was the explanation given to me for the name.  The restaurant seemed half the size of a typical shotgun house, a smallish, confined space.  People literally squeezed-in; limited seating, not by design but circumstances.  A restricted menu – two items a day, no substitutes – open five days a week, awaited the customers who came for an exceptional home-cooked meal.  Drinks too were limited – tap water served on ice – the owner didn’t permit sodas to be served.  “No, no sodas.”  I remembered sometimes there was tea, I think.  I don’t remember, maybe, maybe not.    

Food was served as long as there was food in the pots, meaning roughly and hour and a half lunch service.  Much like visiting any grandmother’s home, the owner sat among the guest; every day, every meal; listening, nodding, occasionally laughing, resting tired feet, after having spent the morning hours cooking for family and guests.

He – a white man – came in first; excited, happy.  “This is it baby!”

She – a white female – followed – she seemed to be a girlfriend to me, not a wife – looking around – a foreign place, a foreign people, not part of her milieu.  I don’t remember any other whites in the restaurant – that day – this day.  Then she did it – – she said “eewww” with both eyes.  Back up – remember this muse is not about race.  Hers was not the old world “eewww” of my youth.  If the truth be in me, her face was no different than mine when I first squeezed-in visited the unpaved alley in the middle of the summer, entered a foreign place and looked around, amazed, eewwwa restaurant, really…? 

“Baby, you’re going to enjoy the food,” he said excitedly. 

His was an out-of-control octave moved upward, downward, sideward – with excitement, anticipation, an uncontrolled instrument.  His body told too, excited to be back – a Frankie Beverly joy – joyous, joyous behavior – boyish behavior, ready to enjoy the anticipatory feast.

She of shocked eyes said nothing – compliant, hesitant trust – following her beloved.  They took two of the remaining seat.   She looked around, before she reached in her purse.  She pulled out a toilette to wipe the table.  I smiled to myself – my behavior too girl the first time I came and every time I eat here.  She remained perplexed – looking around, not at people – never making eye contact; asking her the gods, her God – How on earth did it pass its health inspection?   Truthfully, I always wondered the same thing. 

Her mate ordered his and hers.  Remember – your choices are limited – there are only two plate choices – a easy decision.  He continued to bounce in place, excited.  He waved at the owner a few table over – meaning, she was a mere five feet away. 

“I’m back.” 

The mate remained stupefied, in manner and mode.  The rest of the room continued to eat, watch and talk about her/him/them.  She’s leaving him.  Oh Lord, poor child.  You think she will stay.  I am sure she couldn’t hear what we said; you can’t hear when you are in shock.  His excitement deprived him of both sight and sound.    

“Welcome back baby?” – The owner intoned.   

“How’re you feeling today?” – He responded, giddy, giddy; a giddy man he was. 

“I feel good, blessed.”

“… Food good today…?”

“Always is…?”  Is that your lady?”

“She …”

Before the Giddy One could say what she was – girlfriend, wife – both plates were put in place.  “You ordered the smothered steak … you get the fried chicken?  Daughter never talked much.  Daughter said little else.  She wiped a runny nose with the right hand; wiped the newly soiled right hand on her apron, before turning, slowly – back to the kitchen.  Daughter always moved slowly, so did her mother.  The owner was in or nearing her nineties; Daughter, her seventies.     

We – all of us – watched while – having seen the behavior before.  We were all primates, restrained in place and time, intruding on each other, tapping on glass, rattling each other cages, seeing nothing wrong with our respective behavior.      

Giddy One didn’t care, he was not a participant.  He raised both hands, gave thanks to his God, lowered his head and went to work, enjoying every morsel.  She remained reticent, tentative, timid, a captive of the circumstances; looking around, taking only a small portion of food initially – dangling it on the tip of the fork – to taste, carefully – as if poison doesn’t kill in small portions. 

Her face told – ummm – then the verbal expression escaped, telling the observing primates (us), the world was fine.  The bold seasonings entered every orifice, captured the senses, and compelled her guest to take a sip of water (only water, remember).  The owner heard, smiled in a sleepy, small town, southern kind of manner.  Reticent One’s reaction was no different from others.  The owner had seen the reaction before; she knew she had captured another beast.     

Reticent One moved downward for a larger forkful.  She lowered her shoulders, more relaxed, squeezed-in, like the rest of us had been for some time.  Giddy One remained locked in place, eating, saying little, nodding, wiping, shucking – each fingers – a consumed man.  He was at home, comfortable, among his fellow primates. 

All good stories possess a dramatic turn at some point.  This one does too.  First seen in the hands (much like an arthritic twitch) – flowing to both arms – upward, outward – having a cause-effect on the stomach; moving – inward, outward, causing air to propel through the diaphragm; expanding, causing a vibration in the vocal cords; causing the clear and distinct utterance of two words – only two – distinctly filling the small space we collectively shared.    

“… A roach…!”- Her first words spoken since entering the restaurant.

I looked at my food – saw no roach. I’m good.  I kept eating.

My painter was with me – he took his fork and moved the food around in the plate – looking, looking – looking.  “No roach”, he said.  He too was good.  He kept eating.

Daughter moved slowly out of the kitchen – no rush in her step.  She stood next to the Shattered Soul’s table and inquired, “Where?”

Shattered Soul pointed.  Daughter looked, nodded in agreement. 

“Yep, that’s a roach.” 

Shattered Soul didn’t say she had taken a couple of bits.  Daughter didn’t make her eat the mean.  She did the right thing – I guess – if we are to go by my standards.  She didn’t argue. She took the plate and disappeared.  The other primates went back to eating. 

Daughter came back and placed a fresh plate in front of Shattered Soul.

“Here…”

Giddy One finished his food.  Shattered Soul didn’t finish hers. 

Giddy One paid for both meals, happy, waving to everyone as he open the door for Shattered Soul.  We stayed in our lane, never asking why Shattered Soul wasn’t given a free meal.          

҈            ҉            ҈

Martin Lawrence – the comedian – commonly bases his comedy on a rather simple concept – bouncing someone, something – said with comedic effect, in a declaratory, derisive, off-putting manner, metaphorically ridding himself of the offending person or thing.  In music, the concept can be described more like – bounce-bounce – found in all genres, done with raised hands, a frenetic, participatory crowd in place, accompanied by a pulsating, melodic beat.  I muse to say, sometimes we have to bounce in life and not sweat the small stuff.  Put ourselves in the shoes of the other person – even if the other person, in our eyes is a damn fool – and even when seemingly, we shouldn’t – bounce.     

Cold, overcooked/undercooked, limp/burnt, greasy fries – we have eaten worst.  Complain – sure, do so – however once the push back comes, particularly when the fool comes from behind the counter – bounce!  Thrown both hands up, move backward … bounce!  Complain later and never go back.  No, no, no, don’t follow the fool and re-enraged.  The customer is not always right – particularly when pushing, pushing, pushing an overworked and underpaid worker, uttering abrasive words.  My Mother’s mother would have slapped the customer on the first step, while never uttering a profane word. 

My, my … back to the video – the worker in New Orleans can be seen pushing, shoving, assaulting, letting years of frustrations come out on a customer’s head.  He in turn being the drunk manly-type – I think that’s what we call it – stood his ground – and was an abrasive, utter ass.  Over french-fries?  Really?! 

I get it – the workers/owners/managers are sick to death of the games people play.  Maybe the confluence of the sun, wind, the tropical depressions, and one too many YouTube videos are the proximate causes for the bad days playing out before our eyes. 

Struggling to make a profit, working with the public – is always difficult proposition – for owners.  The workers show up not because they love McDonalds, they are trying to feed themselves, their families, realizing the salary the corporation is paying them is even sufficient to allow them to regularly eat at McDonalds.    

“You’re going to pay for the sandwich.” 

No, I didn’t see race in New Orleans during lunch.  I saw a tired restaurant worker/owner who was sick and tired, sick and tired.  She never heard a word I said.   She told me her truths instead; particularly when commanding me to eat the sandwich and shut up; the same as my mother would have, her mother would have … and you know what you do in those circumstances … you eat the sandwich and bounce.  Our exchange was a real world one – she instructing me on the literal meaning of the word bounce – which I did, like a ball. 

“Eat and enjoy your sandwich, pay and leave.” 

I complied with each instruction, left a tip, bouncing and giggling at the horrified New York, New Yorker.  “Gurl, she ain’t goin’ to hit me up-side the head.”  I knew she would.  I knew she could.           

So I muse…

JUST MUSING: “We’re being rolled…”

George Raymond Wagner was an American professional wrestler best known by this ring name Gorgeous George.  George gained mainstream popularity and was one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling from 1940-1950. While pundits debate the influences of the President’s influences: Fox News, Fox & Friends, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, I possess a different view after reading about the President’s Thanksgiving interview, explaining what made him thankful.

When asked what he was most thankful for, the President turned the focus upon himself, “For having a great family, and for having made a tremendous difference in this country. I’ve made a tremendous difference in the county.” Of course, one can attempt to color his statements and point out he – the President – mentioned his family first.  Any such attempt would be for naught. He then proceeded to do what he do (sic) – he doubled down, in a true Gorgeous George kind of way, “This country is so much stronger now that it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.”  The hair, telling anyone willing to listen, making us listen – controlling the narrative – gift wrapped with constants references to himself.

“I am the greatest.” The Gorgeous George model, before Muhammad Ali pronounced himself as such; acknowledged by Ali as his greatest influence.

“This is a man’s world”, sung by James Brown, borrowed from Gorgeous George, adopted by Donald John Trump, every day. You don’t get it still?  We are being rolled.

For those who are not Trump fans, get over it, we seen this before. Supporting Ali no matter what, laughing at the thumping of his nose at the establishment; “I’ am a pretty man.”  Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

Calling his opponents out of their name, “a gorilla”, directed at one, no one stepped forward and condemned the act, ostracize him because of his conduct; loving him more, while he acknowledged he watched Gorgeous George sell out arenas because people either wished for, prayed for his defeat, or agreed  with him – no matter.

“I’m a bad man.” Selling out – hate, hate, hate – wanting his blood, while we cheered – pretty much – loving the conceit, seeing a pretty, youthful, brash Cassius Clay/Ali recite poetry, holding the nation, the world, fans and enemies captivated.  Don’t be shocked if the braggart who you hate so intensely is reelected.  Waving to enthralled crowd, identifying enemies, assuring the stage lighting is right, dominating the news hour, the news days; the light reflecting perfectly off a dyed mane, even on bad hair days.

The evolution of Gorgeous George was a gradual process. Perfecting his shtick – the robe,  the pre-fight ritual, bragging, bragging, bragging, then deciding to dye his mane and preen to friends and foes alike.  Gorgeous was quoted saying, “If guts is all it takes. I’ve got plenty”, when making the decision to go blond.

So George decided to become a glamour boy, too. He let his hair grown longer and wavier. The next step was to a beauty salon in Hollywood to inquire about a wig. After some thought, it was decided a wig would be too easy to yank off in the ring, so the beautician turned George over to two Hungarian hair stylists, Frank and Joseph, who recommended he grow his hair long and bleach it blond – “if he had the guts.” “If guts is all it takes, I’ve got plenty,” said George.

For those of you who are Trump fans, you’re forgiven. Buying into the bluster, laughing loudly when Gorgeous Donald redirects the argument; always redirecting everyone’s attention back to himself; conduct no different than them/us/we folks have done when buying into out-sized personalities.

“I know more about science.” “I could have been a good general.” “I know big words.” I’m sure he would have used, “I’m the greatest”, if not recognized and attributed Gorgeous George and later Ali. Plenty of guts, saying the outrageous, while fans/voters ignore transgressions, no matter how outrageous, no matter how high the pile grows;  “Ain’t no mountain high enough”, isn’t that how the lyrics read?  Feel no guilt, go out and ignore the rest of the world’s protestations, even if to your detriment.  Support the outsize personality. We did it for Ali, ignoring his flaws (isn’t he pretty, isn’t he fine); referring to Floyd Patterson as “the good Negro”, Sonny Liston as “Bigger Thomas”, isolating these black fighters from the rest of black community. Joe Frazier went to his grave perpetually hurt for the labels placed on him by Ali.

We did the same for James Brown (again another fan of Gorgeous George), no matter how many times he was placed in jail for hitting another woman.  Brown’s daughter, Dr. Yamma Brown wrote in her book, Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me ,“As much as I loved my father, and I sure loved him.  I hated him during those times.” Not surprisingly, she explained she acted no different than any other domestic violence victims, “[a]fter a while, she followed in the footsteps of her mother – ‘and acted as if the beatings hadn’t happened.’”   On the good foot, you say?

Arrested on numerous occasions relating to domestic abuse during the course of his life; puffing up like Gorgeous George; Papa’s got a brand new bag, didn’t he? No he didn’t.  We paid little mind to any of this malfeasance conduct, and kept dancing.  I got that feeling. I got that feeling. So does Gorgeous Donald’s supporters.

So to the minority who supported Gorgeous Donald – as he reminds us – your boy will continue to wreak havoc on the Constitution.  So I say, I understand.  I do. I do.  To achieve a bit more appreciation to this tribute to bombastic behavior, I wish I could say, just musing!  I am not, the stakes are too high.

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!

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: “Those were the days…”

The artwork was the familiar, contained on a business card – a little more than three inches by two inches – embed 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 embed 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 publicly 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 shrug, 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. I did question 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.