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Jan 20, 2009

Barack's Been Good, God - Inaugural Prayers for Barack Obama at Ruby's Diner

. Jan 20, 2009
25 Whispers

For our inaugural eve dinner, we hop over to Ruby's Diner down the street for Super Burgers--hamburgers served on grilled Parmesan toast with avocado and the usual fixings. Tasty. Where ever I've gone today while doing errands, the air is simply palpable with excitement. It's truly electric and I feel it even here in Ruby's atmosphere. People are laughing as they wait in line to be seated; they smile at strangers knowingly, as if we're conspirators in a great master plan.

We are seated in a red vinyl booth in the middle of two rows of such booths adjoined on one side. The booths behind, ahead and next to us are already occupied by diners. Two parties chomp happily on their burgers, fries and shakes and the third family is waiting for their food next to us.
This African American family includes two parents and two daughters, one about six and the other near 10 years old. The girls sit next to each other and fold their children's' menus into the toy cars they were designed to become. Their mother sits in the nook of their father's arm wrapped round her shoulders. She wears a large gold cross around her neck.

After we order, the family's food arrives and teases my hunger with the aroma of grilled beef. "Yay!" squeals the young one. Her sister puts her hand over the child's mouth. The parents laugh. The small girl starts to grab a fry and her father stops her hand. "We say grace whether we're at home or away," he tells her. She releases her french fry, all four join hands and bow heads.

Her father prays in a low voice. I cannot hear much and feel rather sleazy listening to someone's prayer. At the end, I do hear a request to bless tomorrow's inauguration. At the end of her Dad's sentence, the youngest daughter says loudly:

"And God, Barack has been very good. Please protect Sasha and Malia's Daddy. Amen!"

An older woman in the booth across from this family, says "Amen", also. A younger couple behind this family clap for the little girl, and others join her in our booth area. I look around at the handful of people clapping, they are white, black, Hispanic people applauding a small child's request to protect this man who assumes his awesome responsibility to protect us, all of us, tomorrow morning.

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.

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