Friday, January 14, 2011

Home Is Where the Hearth Is (part 1)

This week, our down-South duo dines in Dixieland where—later—they're double-teamed by a pair of draught-playing political pundits.

Sniff sniff ... You catch that scent? You smell it, Barbara?

Sniff ... Salt-cured ham and white flour butter biscuits?

No, that unmistakable, smoky aroma of institutional regressivism!

Oh, yes—that.

The threadbare conceit of white male hegemony latent in the air here is almost palpable ... palatable, even.

Sigh, yes. Here we are again at your favorite restaurant chain ...

Table for two?

Si, senorita!

Right, uh ... this way.

It’s like taking a tour of a full-fledged racial pathology mill, like setting foot in a living, breathing, social science experiment yanked from the pages of American history! Just look, Barbara ...

The officious Mexican hostesses and busboys, working tirelessly, saying little.

The black cooks whipping up something soulful at the grill and at the ovens in the back.

Daity white female servers with their crisp Oxford shirts, aprons, and tea pitchers.

And the white male manager watching over it all beside the raging hearth, below the mounted buck head ... All that’s missing is his smoking jacket and his pipe.

One tidy, little racially coded social order ...

Although, I did wait tables at a Cracker Daryl’s once upon a time, you know.

Yes, babe—your shining and resilient badge of honor.

... Your table.


Sure, folks cite the overt racial overtones of the company name and the multiple incidents of race-based grievances that have occurred on the premises of different Cracker Daryl’s restaurants as reasons not to patronize the “Old Honky Tonk Store.”

But, my, nostalgia can just drive a person of otherwise sound reasoning capacity right back into sipping from the same ol’ Dixie cup of oppression, cain’t it?

Oh, look, babe! How quaint ... She’s seated us in the colored section.

How can you tell?

That was a black family who just got up from that table beside us. And the hostess is seating a couple more two-tops with black diners right behind you.

That ... can’t be intentional?

Yes, a coincidence ... Seating four black parties in the corner of the restaurant closest the entrance ...

An action that allows the restaurant to discreetly serve African Americans without having to parade them past or, God forbid, seat them next to white diners who might otherwise choke on their chicken-fried steak at the sight of a non-subservient Negro.

Well, I’ll be.

Just look at the wall beside our table, babe ... Have you ever seen an old-timey photograph of a black person posted in a Cracker Daryl’s restaurant before?

Much less two of them mounted four feet apart? ... I mean, jeez, they've even decorated for us!

Hmph, a real blast from the past—

Hi, my name is Bernice! Are you ready to order?

Yes: two orange juices, two coffees, pancakes, scrambled eggs, and breakfast meats with the fancy fixin’s ... You know the drill.

Alrighty ... I’ll have that right out!

But you know what, babe? Your lack of racial self-consciousness is refreshing in a way.

An American black woman would have noted such discrimination instantly.

Just look, one of those just-seated two-tops is already switching tables, the women obviously put off by the blatant seating segregation.

But not you. No, as a Caribbean woman, you’re oblivious in moments when I could never be, having myself been cured in the flames of institutional racism since my youth ...

... Having endured the unprovoked, scrutinizing stares and scowls of white Southerners all my life, these looks intended solely to make me feel self-conscious, to try to project self-doubt upon me.

I swear, a Southern white man in a bedraggled suit, with not a nickel to his name and no job to speak of, can step out in Anywhere, USA, any day of the week and still fancy himself looking down on a well-to-do black man from his own specious, though nonetheless societally valid, pedastal of white privilege.

To be honest, that’s the reason some black men seek out interracial relationships, for mental relief from this perpetual “okie-doke,” to break the steady gaze into the black mirror they're faced with day in and day out ...

To see themselves and seek love in a context outside of that which is always raced, "Othered."

But, honey, maybe you could try to see the world differently, to be less pessimistic about race relations, to not always view the present through the prism of a hurtful past.

... Mabye.

'Cause in the end, Beau, one's focus determines one's reality ... You see only those things you choose to see—

Aaaand breakfast is served.

Jeez ... that was quick!

Get us in, get us out, right?

And here’s a coffeepot for your refills, some extra napkins, and ... What am I forgetting?

A chance for the dust to settle after our having been whisked to the table?

Oh, right, your check! If you need anything else, just holler ... Peace.

Actually, could we get some—?

Whistle whistle whi-whistle


Nom nom nom


Nom nom nom


Nom nom nom

Go ahead, dig in, Barbara! You want some of this sawmill gravy?

No, thanks, babe ... I’ll just take an aspirin and a to-go box, instead.

To be continued on Wed., January 19!!


Abdel Shakur said...

Dang, I forgot how much I missed my Cake and Potatoes!

Extra bonus for the Neale/Marshall reference!

Jackson Brown said...

Thanks, man. :) Glad to see your latest post, as well.