Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Winging It

Baw, shucks. I was hoping to be able to report back about Paul Rusesabanga, the man upon whom the fantastic film Hotel Rwanda is based (I saw it over the weekend; it was mind numbing and heart wrenching; do check out United Artist's web site by clicking on the previous link) He was making his only Bay Area appearance at the Oakland Museum of California. Six and I made the trek last night only to find the line wrapped around the block. It was actually a thrill to see so many people there for the event, but it unfortunately meant that we didn’t get in. Apparently, the auditorium only holds about 200 people, and I’d say there were easily 500 waiting to get in. All the disabled folks got to enter first, which is actually pretty awesome, but I guess there were a lot of them, and I found myself wishing I could borrow someone's crutches.

We whiled away the time talking fish stories with the couple in front of us. Six is reading a book called Trawler, written by a travel writer who decided to go deep sea fishing during a hurricane. The gentleman in front of us likes to fish for salmon. Me and his companion are landlubbers, though I was able to join the conversation by mentioning the 321-lb. halibut that was recently caught off the coast of Norway. The head alone weighed 43 lbs. It was so big that they couldn’t haul it into the boat for fear of sinking it, so I they had to tow it to land. For some reason I pictured Shaquille O’Neal on the end of a fishing rod—an uncooperative Shaq at that. I wonder how much his head weighs. Hmmm.

Six was that she was disappointed by the low black turnout; I actually thought there was a pretty decent sized black crowd, though the crowd was predominantly white. We discussed that phenomenon for a moment, making the comparison to jazz shows, which are also frequently white-dominated, although, the jazz festival in Detroit draws a huge black crowd, so I don’t know what’s up with that.

Anyway, we decided to make the best of it and spent part of the night wandering around deserted parts of downtown Oakland wondering if we should be wandering around deserted parts of downtown Oakland at night. We allowed an Asian woman on the street to direct us to a Chinese restaurant, where Six bodaciously asked the waitress to bring us her own personal, favorite dishes—which flattered the hell out of her. We ended up with bok choy w/ roasted garlic and a plate of American broccoli with stir fried squid, scallops, and prawns. Both were divine, healthy, and cheap.

We were joined by our friend Professor Brooks who lives near Lake Merritt. I told both of them about some of the morning’s escapades during my running group. The runners were all wound up about the Oscars, which I stopped watching years ago when I realized it’s just a three-hour commercial for Hollywood. Anyway, they started talking about the host, Chris Rock. One of my runningmates—a white woman—turned to the other black woman in our group and started with those words we Negros just can’t get enough of: “Can I ask you a question about black people?” She wanted to know why Mr. Rock tells so many black jokes. I was laughing so hard that I didn’t hear the response, though other people quipped that fat comedians tell fat jokes and Asian comedians tell Asian jokes, etc. Then, I swear, five minutes later she turns to me and says, “What’s your opinion?” I said, “Hey don’t look at me.” Pointing to the other sistuh, I explained, “She’s the token, not me.” Everyone busted up at that. About 20 minutes later we were running single file up the trail to Corona Heights when the enquiring mind yelped, “Oh, there’s a branch” to which I called out, “Careful! Black people used to swing from those.” Our single file temporarily broke rank at that. Moments later I heard the usual suspect say to my Nubian cohort, “Wow, I can’t believe you remember that,” while they were in the midst of a personal conversation. I couldn’t help myself and chimed in, “You know what they say, black people and elephants.” Golly, the professor who is also ebony loved the story as did Six, my good friend and Jew. Did I mention she surfs too?

Meanwhile the professor took us back to her apartment where she showed us a lot of her artifacts and and regaled us with tales of her rum cake, which unfortunately we didn’t get to sample. She shared some very funny tales about her current undercover experience working at Blockbuster. Apparently two guys had come in just that day and ripped off a couple videos by concealing them under their jackets. Though another customer called attention to it, the professor wisely decided, "Nuh-uh, honey. I ain't takin' a bullet for Blockbusta." Turns out crime doesn’t pay anyway; the bozos were caught speeding about a block from the store and videos spilled out the car by dozens, all to be returned by the arresting officers.

Professor Brooks also told a rib cracker (I just wanted to say “cracker”) about being “written up” for clocking in one minute earlier than the end of her ten-minute break. By doing so, the company has to pay her for an extra hour (for disallowing her a full ten-minute break), so the professor, in trying to go out and help her fellow floor clerks who were swamped and had been robbed earlier in the day (I gave the harrowing details above), ended up costing the company $13. Can you believe that? No wonder people hate hiring blacks. Then she dropped us off at BART, and we called it a night. Black and white together.

How’s that for a charming love story? ; )


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