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Dec 27, 2008

Barack Obama is Different

. Dec 27, 2008
11 Whispers


I am spending the evening around some of my favorite friends: books. Whether I enter a big box bookseller like Barnes and Noble or a small cramped hole in the wall with stacks and stacks of dusty books, I feel excited and anxious at once. All the possibilities of new worlds and amazing characters between these covers excite me, while looking at the stacks or shelves of books makes me anxious because I'll never have time to read them all.

Tonight I'm navigating around big tables piled high with coffee table books deeply discounted at Barnes and Noble. I look at one called The Complete History of the World, which keeps sliding on the slick glossy covers of the books underneath it because it's nearly two feet tall.

The table also has a selection of books about President Elect Barack Obama - his two bestsellers, a political pundit's analysis of him and a giant picture book of his campaign. Soon two female seniors approach the table. One of them opens the Obama picture book and stops at a double-page spread capturing close-up photos of three black women in the crowd at Obama's victory speech. Tears stream down all three black womens' faces and two of them grip tiny American flags in their clasped hands.

The older white women looking at the book pause at this photo, one smiles softly and the other utters a barely audible 'hhmm':

Smiles: My, my. It must be something to see one of your own finally make it this far.
Hhmm: Yes, well, Obama's not your average black. He's different.
Smiles: How do you mean?

Hhmm: Well, he's not on welfare, a thief or a gang member, is he? And he went to college. And got a job.
Smiles: Ohhh, shhh! Don't say that!

Hhmm: Why? I don't hear you disagreeing with me.

Dec 21, 2008

Unwrapped Girls are Nothing But Trouble

. Dec 21, 2008
10 Whispers


I am an all-day breakfast eater; I'll take eggs or pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tonight, I stand in line with the dinner crowd at Archibald's, a local diner that serves delicious flame broiled burgers and seasoned fries. Sizzles and pops from the grill call out. The air is smokey sweet with the aroma of charbroiled beef. But I am here for a breakfast burrito, served all day.

I am three people away from the cash register. Behind me, a family of four waits to order - two parents, a teenage boy and an older man the young boy calls Pops. They speak casually and I hear the boy's father refer to the older man as "Daddy". Daddy has a thick southern accent and says, 'I tell you!' after sentences a lot. He wears a cap with a Kentucky Derby logo and a blue plaid flannel long-sleeved shirt along with dark jeans.

As I move one place closer to order, a gaggle of teenage girls bursts through the diner's entrance and bounces to the counter area to read the overhead menus. Shrill giggles, OMG!s and a 'Shut UP!' emit from the girls. All four are dressed for the beach on this unseasonably chilly California winter night. One girl wears particularly short shorts. The thin hot pink nylon clings to every curve of her young, tight apple butt leaving nothing to the imagination, including the little mounds of tan butt cheek peaking out from each side:

Daddy: Goo-ooood Lord. That gal just as soon walk around nekked.
Grandson: Ha! Come on, Pops. Lighten up! We're not as uptight as in your time anymore.
Daddy: Uptight? Uptiiiight! Listen here boy. Let me tell you somethin' you best remember your whole life through.
Grandson: Oh gawd.
Daddy: Ladies are meant to be unwrapped slowly, one small piece at a time. You go on get with some gal that's already flappin' her wrappers in the wind and you'll get nothing but trouble. Every time.
Grandson: Unwrapped? Like Christmas presents?
Daddy: That's right. A good woman is a gift.
Grandson: So Mom, when do I get to unwrap some girls?
Mom: When you're 30 or independently wealthy. Which ever comes first.

Dec 2, 2008

How Do You Become a Desperate Housewife?

. Dec 2, 2008
5 Whispers

I am one of those silly people who buys a Christmas tree at the crack of December's dawn. I know it will be stiff and crispy by the 25th, but I can't be reasoned with. The tip of my nose tingles with cold tonight as fog rolls in. The moving misty blanket starts obscuring the trees and I feel a few pangs of panic. This is my only free night until the weekend and I simply can't wait that long if I don't find a tree, the tree, tonight.

A little girl's happy squeals erupt a few trees over. Curious to see which tree has found its family, I amble over. A young girl zipped and hooded inside a pink puffy jacket hops up and down holding her mother's hand. Her dad gives the tree a final once-over. The little girl hops faster. Her mother tells her gently to calm down. She stands still and pushes the hood off of her head:

Girl: Daddy! This is the prettiest tree here! Ours is the best tree. And we have to keep it safe.
Dad: What do you mean?
Girl: Today? At school? We learned you cannot ever leave its lights on all night and you can never ever put it by a heater because it will catch fire.
Dad: That's right. We won't do that.
The girl begins hopping again and her mom bends to hug her into stillness.
Girl: Mom, know what else I learned today?
Mom: What's that?
Girl: That if you're a boy you have to buy a lot of Christmas presents for your girlfriend.
Mom: Who said that?
Girl: Kelly. She heard her sister tell her boyfriend all the stuff he has to buy her for Christmas or else he's gonna be single and Kelly said being single is the worst thing you can be when you grow up because then you are a desperate housewife, like on TV.

 

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