Geez, it’s like I don’t even have to try. Ben’s getting a beer and a water, up at the beer stand. We’re gonna split both. Man, there are ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE HERE. Townies, hippies, preppies. Me & Benny. They’re all outcasts. We’re all outcasts. Functioning. The townies will return to their towns. The preppies will go back up the North Shore and the hippies will go back to saving the world. But everyone’s here for themselves today. Dancing with themselves. They’ve all been in the shit and they’re all bonding over this band that has been in the shit. I think I might be getting it. Pain, escape. Ben’s coming back with water and an aluminum Coors Light can. Gotta go, Ben’s tappin’ me on the shoulder. New spot.
I told Ben he was in charge, before the ingestion. He’s been here before. We went down to a new spot, closer to the stage. Ben told me this is about when it starts getting good. When it gets dark. A girl was freaking out. She was telling us that she threw up on the grass. Ben and I were just trying to sit down. I saw the vomit. We sat in front of it. It was fine, I didn’t smell it or anything. She was so emotional. She pointed to her vomit, again and again. I was okay but she wasn’t and it was making Ben and me not okay. She wouldn’t shut up. You’re in charge I told Ben. We left. But it was a good spot. We got real quiet. I began wondering if I was gonna be okay. I was real quiet. We walked to a new spot where a huge man asked us if we saw his watch. It wasn’t a great spot, way off stage right. Too close to the walkway. The man kept asking if we’d seen his watch. I really didn’t want to help look for his watch in the dark. I did some courtesy looking. Does he think we stole the watch? Jesus, we didn’t steal the watch. Why am I afraid of everything these days? Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. This man is scary. Ben, maybe we should go.
We moved up a few feet on the grass. It’s still not the best spot. I think I’m gonna be okay. The girl was so emotional about the vomit! She needed to relax.
Take charge, I told Ben, regarding the vomit. Ben’s got me. But who’s lookin out for Ben? I should ask him how he’s doing. What if he loses it? So what if he’s been here before? It’s okay. It’s real quiet. I’ll be good. I’ll keep close. I should ask him how he’s doing. He’s right there. I’ll do the little things that nobody sees. My horoscope says I’ve been behind the scenes for quite a while. That’s right. I have been. I was taking care of them when they thought they were taking care of me. The little things…I should ask Ben how he’s going.
…Howwwwww you doing? He asks. The tension burst and words flew out of my mouth like water through a dam-
IwasjustthinkingtheSAME THING! Iwasgonnaskyouthe SAME QUESTION! &IwasthinkingabouthowIwasgonnarespondtothatquestion! Whew, I was thinking of all these ways to ask you and things I was going to say. That’s funny man, that’s crazy. It’s all good.
We’re both okay. It’s intermission. Time to go to the bathroom.
Intermission is kind of scary. People everywhere. Like a sea, basically, flowing on the asphalt river. Gotta stick with Ben. We’re gonna pee then we’re gonna get another water and a beer- to split. The bathroom’s crazy. We just go in and out, and the first one done waits right out front. I was done first. Man people everywhere. Where’s Ben? I’m changing tenses, gotta go back and fix that later. But maybe not. This is happening right now. AARON. It’s Joe the bartender. AARON! TELL ME HOW I KNEW I WAS GOING TO SEE AARON LYNCHFIELD WHEN I WALKED OUT OF THAT BATHROOM? Is he serious? Did that thought really pop into his head, that he was gonna see me? That’s weird. My football coach called me Lynchfield. His son asked me why I played. I was no good, why did I even play? Where’s Benny? Joe the bartender is like 40. He worked at Tremont. He was boyish, like me. I’M COMING BACK TO TREMONT! I’LL BE BARTENDING, BROTHER! PAPAGAYO! MAN! YOU WERE RIGHT! THE PLACE IS A TRAIN WRECK! Oh nice. Yeah, cool, we have this new manager at Tremont. I don’t know why Andy hired her. She’s from Tip Of The Top or something. I don’t know. But she, she tried to tell me what words to use when I talk to tables. She told me not to say “folks.” You don’t tell me what words to use. You can tell me a lot, but you don’t tell me what fuckin words to use. Where’s Ben? WELL I’LL SEE YOU BACK AT TREMONT, A-RON! WHEW! I KNEW I’D SEE THAT KID WHEN I WALKED OUT OF THAT BATHROOM!
There’s a new documentary out. Mike Myers from Saturday Night Live made it. It’s about this guy who worked with Jimmy Hendrix. A producer. He knew everyone who was cool back then. He helped them out. He told Jimmy to get business cards. Jimmy was like “What? What the fuck is a business card?” This guy, he was a protector of the artists- that’s what Mike Myers said. I should tell Ben we should watch that documentary. Does Ben wanna know that he’s a protector? Maybe he doesn’t want to hear it. But he’s crucial. Maybe it will make him proud. He should be proud.
He taps me on the shoulder again. Time to go.
Trying to give the people what they want which seems to be just me being me and not caring much. Like what I did today. Like how I used to write in my journal.
Today I went to work. 4th day in a row, yesterday was a double. I mean I shouldn’t be complaining because I could’ve gone to bed sooner rather than hanging out with pals, but it’s the weekend and Louis was in town and everyone loves Louis. True or false: It was an interesting weekend. So anyway I worked a lot and hung out with pals. Double Sunday. Another brunch today, because it’s a Monday holiday. I’m a crybaby but the point is I was very tired this morning and I worked brunch into mid-day and I got through it. My horoscope say that things are gonna pick up. I have to do a good job cuz I rescinded a two-week notice (essentially done that like three times in the past few years.) So I had to do a good job and-
The girl at table 23, she was Austrian and the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Unbelievable. Table 23 drank so much. Like maybe I should have cut them off- yeah right. They were there forever, after I changed out of my pajamas and well into mid-day. You know the dream would be that table 23 finishes and I get to leave and we all leave at the same time and just have an amazing time walking around the city but yeah right.
We all left at the same time. We did.
I have to give myself an hour to get there. Rolled out of bed at about 7:41. No shower. Setting up at 9:00. Staff meal, then it begins. I always felt really nervous when I was first hired and I still get a little nervous now because I have issues. Table 23 came in for pajama brunch. A Filipino guy about 30, a cute girl about 24, and the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my life from Austria. And they drank a lot and stayed waaaaay after the rush. I changed out of my pajamas and into the black shirt and jeans after we 86’d brunch. They moved to the patio (table 6) and got more drunk.
I left with them. We went to a bar but I only had ten bucks. I lost my card a few weeks ago but I only sent in for a new one last week. Still waiting. I left my card in the atm machine. We don’t get cash, our tips come in a check. I’ve probably done the leave-card-in-atm thing about 20 times in my life. Between 10 and 20 times. Table 23 had to pay for me. I’m not in the habit of really having my shit together. I went to work with a Ten in my wallet and no access to the bank (Memorial Day) and these people who tipped me well bought me a drink at another bar. And a burrito. The guy who goes to the bathroom when the bill comes. Pathetic. I’m going to take them all out. I can afford it. Highland Kitchen. I feel like shit. I explained things to them. I’ve never seen anything like that Austrian girl in my life. My horoscope acknowledged that it’s been rough. She showed me a picture on her phone. A little puggish dog. She told me she had a boyfriend. I didn’t ask or anything, I mean we talked about a lot of things. I think it was a Pug in the photo. She had a boyfriend. She and her brother had put a Post-It note on its rear that read (In Austrian) “I stink because of my asshole.” Something to that effect. Never seen anything like that before in my life.
100 Words on Work
A while back I gave myself an assignment to write 100 words. I barely remember doing it but I found it in my notebook today. I should mention that this was written while I was working a former job.
Only because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about. Because it sucks, it’s like prison, hell, waiting on people. I can do better than coffee shops, I can find a whole new, degrading, condescending, hell. The restaurant industry.
Drinks, alcohol, neat, double. Hell. On the rocks. Behind you. Stick with me, okay? Behind you. Hell. Faster. Faster. What’s going on right now? Where are we at? What’s the scoop? Do you know the table numbers? Go Pats, okay? Come here. I love you. Alright, have fun over there. Go Pats. Son of a bitch is leaving.
No Phone Calls
-So the Monkey, he lives in a cage right? It’s like the size of a very small jail cell. He has a bed. He sleeps there. Locked up. They feed him. Sometimes they let him out. He hangs out in the common area with another monkey named Dan. He tried to bang a monkey named Shirley a while back, but that didn’t work out. Shirley hangs out across the yard now. The Subject Monkey mostly hangs out with Dan during recess.
-What are you talking about Mr. Meardon?
-See class, we’re the monkey. You understand? That’s the metaphor. And all the time we spend freaking out about things, like where we’re gonna go to college or who we’re gonna marry-that’s the monkey, as he exits in his cell and walks across the common. Our journey through life is the monkey’s walk across the yard. The college we want to attend is in the common as well as the person we want to be with. Nobody outside the grounds is available to us. Our personalities are manifested in the yard and by our interactions with objects and creatures in the yard. It’s simple, it’s all really simple.
-I’m going to go to Notre Dame, and that’s not in a prison yard!
-I’m saying this world is the monkey enclosure, you understand? We have limits. Yeah yeah yeah, more than the monkey, but we live in a confined space we call Earth-Earth, right now-and that’s it.
-The planet is sooooooo big, Mr. Meardon. And isn’t China bigger than The US?
-Yeah Suzie, but you’re still missing the point.
-I think you’re crazy Mr. Meardon.
-Okay, Jimmy, do me a favor okay? Head on over to China and after lunch give us a phone call and tell us just how big it is, alright?
-I can’t do that! How would I get there so fast? You’re mental.
-Alright, well, why don’t you get a plane ticket and fly there. Give us a call when you have a chance.
-My parents wouldn’t let me miss school. Plus we’re not exactly loaded…Mr Meardon, you’re being stupid!
-That’s my point, Jimmy. Everyone has limitations, you understand? So our world is bigger than some sort of monkey prison yard, so what? What I’m saying is, we live in one gigantic cage, one gigantic yard. Enclosure, if you prefer. And we’re just doing our thing, being monkeys. Giving birth, living, eating, dying, hanging out with Dan. Sometimes we hang out by ourselves. It doesn’t make much of a difference. Just like all the other creatures on the planet…let me ask you something, you think a monkey ever asks himself how he’s feeling?
-A monkey can’t do that Mr. Meardon.
-My point is, nature doesn’t care how we’re “feeling.” So we feel “down” because we don’t have the job we wanted, or the mate we wanted. Nature doesn’t care. We’re like the monkeys we observe. Maybe what’s going on is interesting, but ain’t nobody crying for us, you understand what I’m saying?
-Ain’t ain’t a word, Teacher.
-Who’s “not crying about us” Meardy?
-Now he’s talking about aliens. He’s gonna go to the office again.
-No, I’m serious class. Raise your hand if you believe in aliens…c’mon put em’ up…Jimmy? That’s it? Whatever. You don’t have to believe in aliens to follow me. Okay, Suppose an alien came here to Earth. A bunch of aliens -and what we need to understand class- is were not talking about cheap sci-fi aliens from the 60’s.
-Like from Star Trek?
-Exactly. We’re not talking about a man who puts on an ornate rubber mask. We’re not talking about a 6-foot tall humanoid with two arms and a pair of legs, with an inside-out ass on his forehead. We’re talking about ALIENS. This shit is from another galaxy, you follow? We have no idea what these things look like. They can look like doors for instance. They can look like a fuckin’ cellar door. DOORS. That float around- not vertically but horizontally. They have what looks like a Goldfish swimming around in one of those cliche little fish bowls on the upper left side of the door. That’s what it looks like, but it isn’t a fish. We just have no other way to describe it, you understand? It’s really hard to fathom just what a creature from another galaxy looks like.
-He’s gonna get phone calls.
-Fine. Bring it on. 555-2307. I really don’t care. Anyway, in addition to looking like a sideways door and having a goldfish constantly swimming around their person, the aliens smell sooooooo ghastly. Oh man, you have no idea. They smell-
-Yeah, now you’re getting it. They smell like piss and vinegar and vomit and diarrhea, and the real kicker is -what you need to understand class- is they LOVE the way they smell. A male alien gets a whiff of a female and exclaims to his pals: “Damn, did you get a whiff of Shirley!!! She smells RIPE!!!
-WHAT ARE YOU SAYING MR. MEARDON!?
-My point is class- we spend all this time worrying out about everything, right? We ask ourselves how we’re feeling and we freak out about getting this or that job or we freak out when we’re just trying to get out of bed in the morning.
-And??? …He’s totally lost it.
-Shut up. So these aliens come, right? Let’s say they’re from that planet we just found-
-The one that the scientists say is like Earth?
-Yeah. Here’s my point: They arrive, and they see the ocean and the mountains. The dolphins and the sharks. The trees and the lakes. The monkeys and the humans. You think the aliens would think we’re special- any more special than the rest of it? You think they’d think we’re cool? They flew 2000 light years. We went to the moon a couple of times. The moon is lame kids. You fuckin think for one second that the aliens would think we’re fuckin cooler than the monkeys and the whales and the volcanoes? You think they’d care how we’re “feeling” whilst not giving a hoot about all the other stuff?
-Why all the F-bombs Mr. Meardon?
-Twice in the same sentence Meardy!
-It’s his style. It’s just his style.
-Whats with all the questions children? What are you saying, it’s my style? I don’t always swear. Let me do the talking okay? Anyway, you don’t have to believe in aliens to follow me. The aliens are also a metaphor. You know what the alien represents?
-Jimmy, why don’t you go for a walk? The aliens don’t represent a union. They’re everything. Everything in the universe that isn’t us- the sun, the moon, the planets that may or may not have intelligent life. All the galaxies & constellations. Aliens are even a metaphor for things here on Earth. The trees and the bushes, the vines and the bugs. All that other shit doesn’t care about us. They don’t give a hoot. They’re just living and dying. On one planet or another. This cage or that prison cell, you understand? It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. But we spend all this time fretting.
-If none of that matters, why are you getting so heated? Why are you swearing?
-Yeah, now we don’t have enough time to finish Die Hard cuz Mr. Meardon decided it was time to get all personal and serious.
-…I don’t know…well, I don’t know. I do care. I guess that’s the problem. I care a lot and sometimes I think I care too much. I know it doesn’t seem like it cuz I’m a 30-yr-old substitute teacher who just plays Lethal Weapon while your teacher is out… I don’t really brush my hair… I’m a slob…
-Do you have a point today Mr. Meardon?
-His point is he cares!
-And he’s having a bad hair day! Awwwwwww, it’s okay Mr. Meardon!
-Is he gonna cry? ARE YOU GONNA CRY MR. MEARDON?
-Don’t cry Mr. Meardon, we love you. We won’t tell our parents about the swearing. No phone calls. Right everyone? No phone calls.
-Thanks Jimbo…no phone calls…anyone know where the remote is?
-Basketball is a simple sport, understand? It’s not too complicated. I don’t want you to think it’s complicated. You might be thinking you don’t know the first thing about screens, or other fancy things, but I want you to calm down. Basketball is a simple sport, my friends. It’s about putting the ball into the basket. Putting the BALL- into the BASKET. You get what I’m saying here? See, we’re a team, and I’m the coach, and what we’re here to do is figure out how to put this bad boy through that hole.
-The basketball is a bad boy?
-You don’t wanna know Kelly. Anyway, the game is about putting the ball into the basket. You can shoot it in. You get points when it goes in. The team with the most points wins- but the score is really the indicator of who was better at putting the ball into the basket. Michael Jordan was good at putting the ball into the basket.
-You can dunk it in!
-Yeah Jimmy, you can even dunk it in. You can do many different things to try to get it in, and there are rules regarding what’s allowed when trying to put the ball into the basket. But it’s about putting the ball into the basket, you understand? I know I know, you can say, “Hey, Coach Meardon, but isn’t the point also to try to stop the other team from putting the ball into the basket?” Yeah yeah, I get you, but the other team is also trying to put the ball into the basket. You know what I’m saying? Every team we play is going to want to put the BALL into the BASKET? You get it? Offense, defense, basketball is about putting the BALL into the BASKET …Dunking, three-pointers, jumpers- it’s all the same thing. You got me?
Bear In A China Closet
I have to give it a real effort when I work at my job now. I’ve had a lot of jobs. But Like I said, I have to really FOCUS.
In recent years, I began recalling lines my father repeated to me. DISCIPLINE AARON. I never really remember the context, I just see the words. DISCIPLINE popped into my head when I played tennis with my old roommate. He’d get so frustrated that he wanted to quit. We’d only been playing for about ten minutes, just warming me up when he told me I better stop screwing around. He would just rather go home. DISCIPLINE. An old friend of mine from the ravioli place said he thought I lacked discipline. But he said it like Mr. Miagi coaching The Karate Kid- “Aaron, you-a wrak DISCIPRINE!”
Get-that-through-your-thick-skull, my Dad said, with gravity. He said it slow. I hear it now. He made such an effort to make it clear. He said it in a way that suggested he knew it might not get absorbed very easily. Get that through your thick skull.
A couple years back I played bottle hockey with the fellas. We played after work, on the big metal tables at the ravioli place. I had a hard time learning the game. It annoyed the guys a little that I couldn’t understand the simple rules, rules about spinning quarters and stuff. I told my friend Dan that I didn’t have space in my brain for stupid rules. I thought that 100% of my brain time should be spent doing whatever it wanted to do. Really it was just laziness and it made me kind of stupid.
Oh yeah, so I have to give it a real effort at my restaurant. I value the job, and I’m grateful to have it. So that means I have to learn about wines and listen and pay attention and all that shit. It’s a struggle. I get really stressed out. A person yelped about me and said I was RETARDED, capitals. I’m not retarded actually. It’s a little frustrating, that shit. Because I’m not retarded.
I was in the class for smart kids in Kindergarten. The EARLY birds. I was the man. I remember in third grade I had my reading level assessed and I was told I had a FIFTH grade reading level. I read novels like Touchdown For Tommy. This one kid had a NINTH grade level, but you know, fuck ’em- I ran around and shit. I got a perfect score on my jr. college placement test when I was 18. I was told I could “take any English class Bellevue Community College offered.” …So that’s somethin. It’s the little things. The best little thing was probably my old girlfriend’s college papers. She was a great student. She went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she majored in accounting. Anyway after a few B papers, she asked her (required) writing teacher what she needed to do to get an A. After he read a paper that had been over-hauled by me, he noted on her paper- “This is what you need to do to get an A.” When you don’t have the big things, it’s gotta be the little things.
Absent minded, I say. I try to argue that ADD doesn’t exist but I know I have the worst case of it. Everyone swears they have the worst case. Exposure to Ritalin came at age 24. I was living in Seattle, working at a coffee shop. I decided I should see a shrink one night while taking the trash out behind Tully’s Coffee. He diagnosed me with ADD on the first visit. In a later visit I asked him if it was what I said that gave it away, or how I said it. He told me it was “both.” Anyway, he prescribed me a bottle of Ritalin that I used infrequently over the next couple of years. Probably 30 or so 5-milligram pills that I took in 5 and 10-milligram doses. Ritalin definitely played a role in my jr. college triumphs over math. Prior to Ritalin I failed math three times. Performance Enhanced. And my English classes became awesome. I understood everything. I absorbed everything. I liked class. The craziest part was feeling normal. I felt that class on Ritalin was just like a normal person not on Ritalin. I felt normal for understanding everything. Dan once told me I need Ritalin. He pointed to me and said “You know what you need? You need Ritalin.”
Engage Your Brain, my Dad would say.
I don’t know man- My last college professor, when addressing our intimidation of the novel Ulysses, he told us that all those lines that we thought we were skimming over, we were really taking in, even if we thought absolutely nothing was going in.
All these justifications, excuses- “We’re not meant to be idle, we’re meant to run around, and fight for survival” Or “Well, intelligent people take longer to process, because they’re processing more blah blah blah-” all that bullshit I tell myself- I’m still an idiot. I leave the toilet seat down. Or up. I leave my zipper down. I forget stuff. I lose stuff. I don’t listen. So like when my mom would be upset and say “I told you, and you weren’t listening!”
My old step-dad had a nick-name for me, it was DESTRUCTO OBLIVION. Spacial Awareness is something I was told is very important. Also, I’m a Bull In A China Closet. One time I called myself a bear in a china closet but I was corrected. I’m in-fact a BULL In A China Closet. My older brothers called me Air-head. I was okay with it. When I worked at the coffee shop in Seattle, I heard the girls talking about Aaronisms. I perked up- “Oh, like things I say that are clever?” I was told, no, that an Aaronism was like when I forgot to dump out the mop bucket.
Engage Your Brain when I need to remember seat numbers at the restaurant.
Dogs On Walks In The South End
Mr. Meardon Subs High school
“Alright class, I want everyone to stand and turn around. …C’mon, everyone up. look at the map behind you. Even you Jimmy, don’t be an ass, turn around.” Mr. Meardon began scribbling down a note while standing behind the desk at the front of the class. He had just seen Alice through the window of the classroom door. She was across the hall, going through her phone. He was pretty sure Alice was the new band teacher, or was it art? Whatever she taught, she was damn fine. Nice full figure.
“What is this about?”
Still scribbling Mr. Meardon continued: “Children, look at that vast world!”
“We aren’t children!”
“I want everyone to focus on a specific spot.” Mr. Meardon had finished scribbling on a piece of paper and slipped over to the door from the desk where he’d been standing. He nonchalantly pressed the note up against the glass of the door while still facing the students’ backs.
“What are you doing Mr. Meardon?”
“Turn around Jimmy.”
Mr. Meardon turned to face the window, still pressing the note to the glass. He made eye-contact with Alice. Her look was simultaneously puzzled and annoyed. He smiled and nodded, to assure her that she was not mistaken. Mr. Meardon motioned for her to come closer, though he immediately left the window and slipped back behind the desk.
“Pick a certain spot on the map. Once you’ve done that, you can sit down again….alright, now, I want you to put your heads down, close your eyes, and envision that spot you stared at.”
“This is stupid.”
Mr. Meardon began scribbling again from behind the desk. “Quiet down.” He said.
“THIS AIN’T 2nd GRADE.”
“That’s enough… I hope you picked a sunny locale Jimmy. Heads down everyone.” Mr. Meardon finished up his note and slipped back to the door. His palm pressed the paper up against the glass while he kept an eye on the students.
To Mr. Meardon’s surprise, the door opened and he almost tripped into Principal Pantoleono and Alice. The Principal immediately began addressing the class.
“Class, you’re familiar with Mrs. Dupont, our new Health teacher? She’s going to be with you for the rest of the period. I need to borrow Mr. Meardon for a minute.” Principal Pantoleono said all this while holding Mr. Meardon’s note.
* * *
The Principal’s office:
“LEE -Mr Meardon- You want to see my butt so bad-LY” the Principal corrected.
“You probably won’t be needing me anymore today, will you?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
The Slavery Flag
It’s February 2014, and Georgia has a new license plate available that displays the Confederate Flag. It’s not really new, it’s just updated. Aside from an article I read on jalopnik.com, I haven’t researched why this is allowed. This is because I’m lazy, but I can also claim that it’s to maintain a moderate level of awareness as I contemplate non-racist reasons for displaying the Confederate Flag. I want to be a typical American, just contemplating why this might be allowed 150 years after our country’s bloody Civil War, half a century after Martin Luther King Jr died for equality and after Trayvon Martin was killed because he had a bag of skittles. I am a moderately informed American who has a preconceived opinion on the matter.
Okay, so here’s where I contemplate non-racist reasons to display a Confederate Flag, whether it be a full-on flag or a little one on your license plate:
1) You long for the “Old South.” You hate the hustle & bustle of the city you live in. The honking horns, the traffic, the sirens. Your 9-5 job. You want to trash your phone and computer and just eat some southern food and fish along a hot, lazy river with a crude pole that is simply a stick with a piece of yarn attached to it. You want a piece of straw in your mouth. The X that is displayed in the back of your truck doesn’t mean that you’re a racist, it just means you long for simpler, quieter times. The South. You want the drawl and the hospitality.
2) Political issues other than SLAVERY.
3) You like the design. You like the abundance of red, and you like that X, with all the stars in it. You like it for no other reason than you think it looks cooler that the ol’ Stars and Stripes.
4) You know that the Confederate States were wrong, but you believe we should constantly be reminded of our ugly past so that we don’t repeat it. You love that the South has moved past slavery and you are proud of that fact. It’s like the 9/11 never forget t-shirts and stuff.
The above reasons aren’t very convincing because of SLAVERY. This country shipped over humans from Africa and sold them as if they were dogs, or worse yet- machines, or appliances. I can hardly contemplate Benjamin Franklin or George Washington’s greatness without feeling a ping in my heart that reminds me that despite the founding fathers’ greatness, they all had slaves. It’s ugly.
I’ve heard the why-we-went-to-war-other-than-slavery explanations before. History majors like to explain these sorts of details. I’m sure there were plenty of issues other than slavery, it’s just hard to get past the whole SLAVERY thing, so I forget these issues. If you display the Confederate Flag for political reasons beyond slavery, why do you cling to a political ideal from 150 years ago? Haven’t we advanced beyond that in terms of policy? What Confederate ideal, outside of slavery could we possibly implement that would make modern America a better place?
When I think of the Confederate flag, I think SLAVERY. I think of how the South Was for SLAVERY and the North was opposed. This is after hearing arguments about how there were many reasons the nation was divided- it wasn’t simply black and white. There were political complexities that go beyond the buying and selling of humans. I know that the North was still racist. I’ve heard from a history major that the reason the North could abandon slavery was that it had industrialized. It simply didn’t need that huge, free, work force. I recently read that Lincoln once said he didn’t think blacks would ever be equal to whites. I’ve heard all these things and I assume that SFSF readers have more or less heard the same.
I moved from San Diego, California to San Antonio, Texas when I was nearing the end of 7th grade. I was startled by the racism in Texas. My first friend was a kicker named Jeremy. Kicker was short for Shit Kicker. Shit Kickers got the name from the cowboy boots they wore. They kicked shit in the fields. From my perspective as a San Diegan, Kickers dressed like toned-down cowboys. Kickers wore boots to school, and Wranglers. I’d seen Wranglers before. They had the tag on the belt line like all the other mainstream jeans. Kickers wore a kind of Wranglers I’d never seen before, with the leather tag on the butt pocket. Wranglers were worn TIGHT. Everyone else wore baggy jeans. Clara Driscoll Middle School was represented by many cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. There were Preppies, Kickers and Jocks. And there were Hispanics, Whites and Blacks.
Jeremy was only my friend for a month or so because he was racist. He told racist jokes at lunch. He repeated the slogan “You wear your X, I’ll wear mine.” Your X was a reference to Malcom X. By mine, Jeremy meant the Confederate Flag. In addition to repeating his Your X/Mine refrain, Jeremy spent his free time doodling Xs and telling racist jokes. Jeremy was my friend for, like I said, a month or so. 7th grade ended, and Jeremy was gone. In 8th grade I got to know more people and made friends with some non-racists.
If you display the Confederate flag and claim to not be a racist, why would you submit yourself to being mistaken as a racist? When your truck passes a car on the highway, and the child in the car asks his mom what that flag represents, what do you imagine is said? The flag is reduced to a simple symbol. It is only an image and no words. It passes by. There is no benefit of explanation from the bearer. The mother can explain to the child that there’s a chance that the bearer of the flag is not racist, but she can’t be certain. Why open yourself up to that ambiguity in a subject so sensitive? The flag is a loaded statement, and loaded statements are frustrating and annoying. If the bearer claims to endorse human equality, why would they open themselves up to dispute on the matter? The bearer of the flag is at best a lazy idiot and at worst a racist who longs for the days of slavery. Who wants to bear the Confederate Flag?
Displaying the Confederate Flag is equal to that under-breath utterance that one is afraid to make louder and more direct. People who make such utterances are weak. One utters when one is afraid to state boldly and clearly. People who long for the Confederate South are the moral bottom 1% in this country. They are weak, racist cowards who are afraid to look a black man in the eyes and tell him he belongs on a plantation under someone else’s ownership.