There's today, and there's flashbacks

Every once and a great while, I pull my head out of a book long enough to have a conversation with the other passengers on the train ride home from work. It's not that I'm anti-social; I just want to be alone with my thoughts (more about that later)after a day of explaining and demonstrating subject-verb agreement and topic sentences. But today, one of the "tutees" (students who come into the college's Writing Center for tutoring)was on the train, and of course, she wanted to talk about a paper that she has to do. Wonderful. The absolute last thing I want to talk about on my way home. I steered the conversation to another subject, and before I knew it, everyone sitting nearby was joining in. I'm not sure how it happened, but I think it all started when the tutee said, "See that guy who just got off the train? He tried to get me to sleep with him on Monday." Somehow, that ignited a lively discussion about women and men, dating, cooking and working at that golden pyramid building on the banks of the Sacramento River that used to be called the "Money Store". It appears that half of Sacramento worked in that building at one time or another. (I didn't, thank the Lord.) Anyway, the conversation turned rather loud and energetic, punctuated by generous amounts of laughter that caused the driver to poke his head out of his compartment and ask us if we had been sharing a pipe filled with a narcotic substance.

"Yeah, we're having a party out here," the lady sitting next to me said. "All we need is some chips and salsa!"

I looked down at the plastic container that I was holding. It contained my dinner: 4 ounces of chicken (white meat only), 6 ounces of fresh spinach marinated with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and balsamic vinegar. I know what I ate last night because I wrote it down the night before, and gave my sponsor my food plan in the morning. Accountability for what I put in my mouth. That's what I have to have to do to keep from dying like the mother in the movie, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape."

"I have some chicken and spinach", I told the chips and salsa aficionado.

The woman, who looked like she weighed all of 100 pounds, wrinkled her nose and shook her head.

"No, thanks! That's healthy food. I don't do healthy!"

Hmmm...then how is it...all those diet books say whack (really, really crazy) stuff like "develop the healthy habits of thin people...and there was this skinny woman talking about eating pasta with lots of hamburger, marinara sauce with plenty of cheese and garlic bread! How in the hell does she stay so skinny eating like that? I probably gained five pounds just listening to her talk about what she was going to eat for dinner. Ain't fair. Just ain't fair.

So when I'm fuming and thinking about beating up all the skinny b****es in the world, I'm processing a lot of memories that have buried for years. For example, I had an "aha" moment yesterday while cleaning up my kitchen and listening to my play list on my computer. I found a song by Joe Tex (rest in peace, Joe) called "I Gotcha." It was real popular when I was an eighth grader at Baker Junior High School in Tacoma, Washington, and my friends and I used carry around cassette players and play songs that we had recorded from the radio. One day, I was sitting in the music room, bored as usual, so I turned on my cassette player. Joe Tex's song played, and two white guys jumped out of their seats and asked if they could listen to the song again.

Mind you, this was 1972. Baker Junior High School was integrated, but white and black kids rarely said anything to each other, much less socialized together. To have two white guys want to listen to black folks' music was bizarre. They lived in their world, and we lived in ours. Rarely did the two intersect. I was perplexed, but I handed them my cassette player. As far as I knew, they weren't R&B fans. In fact, I remember one of them wearing an Eagles tee shirt. Or was it Pink Floyd? Quien sabe. But then again, I was pretty naive about a lot of things back then, especially regarding the ability of innuendo to fascinate males of any race. Those guys kept rewinding the song and playing it over and over while cracking up laughing. I didn't get it. What was so funny? Were they making fun of my music?

No. They enjoying the suggestive lyrics that Joe Tex used in the song:

"Now kiss me! Hold it a long time; hold it! Don't turn it a loose; now hold it..."

At thirteen years old, I was clueless. I just now realized why those two kept rewinding the tape and playing the song. It's amazing to look back and see how much you have learned in life. A nearly fifty year old woman can afford to smile about events that baffled her as a teenager. I guess that's the blessing of getting older. Life doesn't always have to be so serious.

Actually, I was looking for different Jox Tex song. He had an R&B hit back in the 60s called "Skinny Legs and All". My little brother Ricky loved that song. He was only three at the time and unable to read, but somehow he could recognize that particular record, even when was buried underneath a stack of 45s. We didn't understand how he did it, but Ricky always found the record and put it on record player so he could hear Joe Tex sing:

"Now don't worry about a doggone thing at all,
'cause there's some man, somewhere who will take you,
baby, skinny legs and all!"

Remembering how my brother would bounce around the room while the song played makes me smile. My brother was a lot of fun while we were growing up.

I wish he was still here amongst the living.
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