Jun 5, 2007

NO ANTHROPOLOGY BEFORE BEDTIME
PORTLAND, Oregon – A pixie flits in the hot tub. Flyaway white-blond hair, gumball-big azure eyes, no fear: she could be me 28 years ago.

"You're reading?"

"Yes."

"Read to me," the waif commands.

I glance down. "You come to de right place if lies is what you want. Ah'm gointer lie up a nation."

"Hang on," I say. "This passage isn't very kid-friendly." I flip further through Zora Neale Hurston's treasury of black folklore.

"Tookie Allen passed by the mill all dressed up in a tight shake-baby. She must have thought she looked good, because she was walking that way."

Lordy. That won't do.

"Dat's to let de pimps and rounders know de workin' man is on his way."

Mio dio. "Wait a sec," I mumble.

"Hoodoo is not drum beating and dancing. There are no moon-worshippers among the Negroes in America."

"Well?" the wee angel prompts.

I snap shut Mules and Men. "Why don't I tell you a story instead?"

Another voice intrudes – the dad's – "No, why don't we leave you alone?"

For once, I nod, grateful. Because my pale self teaching Panther Pride 101 to a Botticelli putti – that's simply not an equation I want to explore at the Holiday Inn.

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