The Next Few Hours [second daily dose of The Mississippi South of Winona]
Back in the safety of our motel a couple hours later, after Rich took a short nap and I took a short drive around town, I tell Rich of having met this pretty young Black woman who asked me to be her boyfriend for the night – but I’d said no, and instead bought her son a 3 piece Church’s fried chicken dinner. “Oh well, there’s always tonight,” I say to Rich.
Most of what I told Rich was true – and certainly in keeping with the theme of our trip.
My drive in town had led to the mostly-all-Black public high school as well as the all-White-looking private academy just outside of town, but I hadn’t met anyone until I ended up at the grand opening of a new Church’s Fried Chicken restaurant out at The Crossroads with a blues band playing in the parking lot. “How great is that – you should have been with me,” and I go on to tell Rich when it started to rain a little, I lifted the tailgate of our Odyssey Van, making a nice canopy and a place to enjoy the music. That’s when she looked in my direction and asked if there was room for her.
“Of course,” I said, with a little bit of a look. But when it was clear she really needed a friend more than a lover, I told her I needed to get back to the place we were staying – “Yes, that one, the only place in town.”
We had been talking about her lousy life in general, and she’d asked if I’d ever had a black girlfriend before – would I be her boyfriend for the night? But before departing I asked if I could buy her kid a meal. The kid, who I hadn’t noticed at first, had come to join us and was complaining about how hungry he was – not surprising in a country where 1 in 6 kids is hungry and, at the moment, being in the poorest county in the poorest state in the deep South.
Well, because it fits so well with why we made this trip, I’m very excited telling Rich about my adventure – emphasizing a couple times how young and pretty she was. “Oh well, there’s always tonight,” I concluded.
Meanwhile, we were keeping the motel room door open (with its warmer-than-Minnesota in November type-breezes), when all of the sudden there’s a commotion outside our door. There were no other guests staying that night – and nary a passer-by until this moment. A car has pulled-up and this woman’s voice is all excited about something. Then she bursts into our room, full-featured, saying “God, am I glad I found you! My purse is in the back of your car.” And of course I immediately realized who she was, so I leap up and go open the tailgate; she grabs her purse; then jumps in the waiting car exclaiming once again (to her driver, not to me) how grateful she was that she’d recovered her purse; and takes off. Whew, no more boyfriend overtures, but . . . .
. . . . but now I have to face Rich who could hardly contain himself laughing at my embellished story — she was neither young nor pretty . . . oh well . . . there’s always tonight.
Tomorrow: That Night at Red’s Juke Joint