Saturday, September 20, 2008
My association with Negros
My association with Negros started when I was in third grade. You see I had never seen, been in the presence of, nor was friends with any one of color until I was in third grade. And even then I had to ease into the knowing of people by color by befriending what we called an “oreo”, or a personage of mixed race. Martin’s mother was a white woman and his father was as dark as well polished Mahogany. Martin’s dad was a garbage collector and Martin had some of the greatest stuff ever! His basement was a collection of stuff that only a true collector of crap could appreciate, every inch was covered in neat stuff, it was like a curiosity shop had exploded all over the place. Soon my association turns from casual to intimate.
The next year I had to transfer schools since my parents bought a house on the other side of town. It was then that I was put into extreme proximity with, unbeknownst to me the person that would become my best friend and closest confidant. When I first met Curtis, he was a chubby broad shouldered youth who ran towards the passive side but could be lead into temptation if pushed the right way. He was pushed the right way the day I formally met him by his friend Stacy. Stacy, it seems had singled me out as the “new” kid in class and thought that I was just a country bumpkin who could be bullied. He was half right. They approached me on my way home from school within the first week with a story of how I took their shuttle cock during gym class and for that crime I was going to get a beating. As I wrestled with Curtis, Stacy took pleasure in kicking me and punching me finally Curtis and Stacy had me pinned to the ground and it was then that Stacy left the only mark on me he ever would and the last one I would get from Curtis. As Curtis held me down Stacy raked his foot over my left eye scraping some skin off. It was then that I heard some yelling, some young college student who just so happen to be driving by stopped and pulled the two black youths off of me and they ran. As soon as they were gone I too took off like my ass was on fire…I didn’t want to be at the scene of the crime any longer then I had too.
The next day Curtis come up to me on the playground and inquired about my head, and we became friends, life long, move a body friends. The Shit we pulled would fill volumes…and I guess that I should write them down since it is free and I wouldn’t want to forget them. But later, not now.
It was through Curtis that I began my close personal association with Negros. The first such event was the summer following my beating by Curtis and Stacy, and Curtis had invited me to join him and his youth group at the Douglas Center for a trip to Worlds of Fun. Worlds of Fun, was the equivalent of Disneyworld here in the Midwest back in the late 70’s. The main attraction at the time was a new rollercoaster named “The Scream Roller” it was 75 miles an hour, 33 second speed ride that scared the weak enough that they invented the “Chicken Exit” where the weak of heart could then leave under the catcalls and jeers of the waiting crowds. And yes there was an hour wait in line to ride this speed demon of a rollercoaster, can you imagine waiting an hour to experience 33 seconds? Well we did and so did millions of other silly people. But back to my association…
Curtis asked me if I wanted to go I asked my parents if I could go, they called Curtis’ parents and a plan was hatched. I met Curtis down at the Douglas Center and promptly got on a school bus, I was one of the last people to get there and when I got on the bus it was like those scenes in the movies when the one cracker walks into the black bar, or the one black guy walks into the peckerwood saloon, the music stopped and the people turned and starred at me and I was the only piece of rice in a bowl of raisins!
I saw Curtis waving from the back row and that was what I kept my focus on, I could still hear the other kids asking who the white boy was and what did I think I was doing on the “brotha bus“ headed to Worlds of Fun. Curtis stood up and said “Don’t worry he’s wit me!” After that I was cool. He had given me my first “Black by Association” card. The day was spent eating crap and riding rides and were completely tuckered out by the 5pm deadline, they shuttled us back on the bus, and drove us back home, safe sound and cool.
From that day forward I found myself in the company of more people of color then white folks. I spent the majority of my free time on what most people used to call “the wrong side of the tracks” my closest friends were Black, Mexican, and a Japanese dude who came over with his family for a year. If you ever saw the movie Sandlot, that was us, we would play baseball all morning at the empty lot next to the Mexicans house and then when it got too hot we would go to the pool and swim all afternoon, when it was time we would race home from the pool put on the city league uniforms and play “organized” baseball all night.
My association continued on through college, both times, and I continued to hang with the brothers, I learned their ways I loved their women, drank their 40’s and beat them at spades, dominos and arm wrestling. There were some hiccups along the way like the time I stared a race riot by accident. But that will have to be a different chapter .