"I didn't do anything to your charger. Are you sure it's not there?"
I mutely direct her attention to the empty socket.
"Nope, it's not there. One of the kids probably took it."
As luck would have it, at that very moment, One Of The Kids (Alicia, the nine year old) was lurking outside the bedroom door, to see if she could hear some juicy Parent Conversation.
"Alicia, do you have Papa's phone charger?"
"No," she sweetly replies. "Look in Kenneth's room."
Isn't it amazing that the youngest child always knows everything that's going on in the house? I suppose that's part and parcel of lurking outside the bedroom door, eavesdropping on juicy Parent Conversation.
"Kenneth, do you have Papa's phone charger?"
"Do you mean that white power thing?"
And all of a sudden I can't help myself. Right there, in front of God and everybody, I yell
"Yes! White power! White power! White power!"
"I can't believe I did it either, but it was kind of fun," is the only reply I can make.
I'm not saying that this story makes any sense, but you'll miss the significance of it if you don't understand our family. In our Walton-style extended family house in the suburbs, out of four adults, two preteens, an infant, and a cat, I'm the only white guy. Yes, even Sugar Belly, the fat Manx cat, is black, and I am utterly cool with that. Vanessa was exactly who I was looking for to help me return to the Land of the Living, and everything else is simply bodacious fringe benefits. Except the cat. She's a fringe benefit in the same way that a sore throat is a fringe benefit when your nose is running.
Because I am an iconoclast, and have an utterly depraved sense of humor, I don't miss many opportunities to say something outrageous. I do try to discriminate between the sacred and the profane, but for me, "sacred" means "God" and everything else is profane, and I find most of it ridiculous if not downright stupid. So, Vanessa often looks at me as if I'm an idiot, and says "I can't believe you said that."
I'm not sure that this would have been worthy of blog post, except that I just found out that Harper Lee died.
"To Kill A Mockingbird" was published in 1960, and the movie was released in 1962. My mother took my older sister and I to see it in our hometown of Macon, Georgia; I was nine years old and my sister was twelve. Boo Radley terrified me, the aftermath of the trial broke my heart, and I wanted Atticus Finch to be my daddy.
I was assigned to read the book at age 17, in my second go-around as a high school sophomore. My English teacher was the first black teacher I had ever had, transferred into my school from her previous all-black school, by the school board in their final, desperate, and futile attempt to comply with Supreme Court decisions without fully integrating the student body. (It didn't work. At the end of that school year, every high school was required to have a student enrollment of 60% white and 40% black, matching the demographics of the school system as a whole.)
If there's anything more disgusting than a radicalized 17 year-old white middle-class high school student trying to suck up to his middle-aged black schoolteacher, I'm not sure what it is. Permeated with white guilt, I feel relatively certain that the paper that I wrote was even more infantile than usual, but the only thing that I remember about it was that I chose Dolphus Raymond as the character I would most like to meet. (In the event that your memory of the details of the book are hazy, he's the white guy who was married to a black woman and had a bunch of biracial kids.) What a pathetic attempt to prove that I was not a racist, and was, in fact, a cool white guy...
1. When I hear the squawking of social justice warriors today, I can't help but remember that my own squawking arose from a core of self-hatred, a blind rejection of the Establishment, and a pathetic belief that if we just burned it all down and loved each other, it would be wonderful. I believe their motivation to be identical. So, I think they're a bunch of stupid morons who don't understand anything about life, and they need to get a job.
2. 45 years later, have I become Dolphus Raymond? I don't think so. Every time he came to town, he carried a bottle in a brown paper bag and drank from it periodically so that people would think he was drunk. It wasn't really whiskey in the bottle though, it was Coca Cola. Acting like a drunk was his way of avoiding other judgments by society. As for me, I carry a pistol. I have convinced Vanessa to carry a pistol. And I'm training my children in firearms safety. Go ahead! Say something stupid, and it's not very likely to bother me, because I know you're an ignorant moron; and also know that if you cross the line, I can always shoot your dumb ass.
Rest in peace, Harper Lee. Your legacy lives on.