Frequently while I’m reading, a sentence grabs me and forces me to stop. I pay tribute to other authors by sharing their Damn Fine Sentences with you. Then I recount a memory the words bring up for me. It’s about how books connect with your life.
“The scent of their disapproval lay heavy in the air.”
— — — Toni Morrison
— — —from Beloved
My white significant other and his three buddies crowded the studio apartment, hours into yet another intense blues-listening session. Stale beer, half drunk wine, and cigarette smoke assaulted my nose.
I was bored, ignorant of Delta blues vs Chicago blues vs Texas blues. Besides, my friends looked depressed, sprawled on the floor half conscious.
Really, wouldn’t these white guys like to hear an upbeat white woman singer? I found the only album in the apartment without an ancient black man on the cover.
The revelers had their eyes closed; they didn’t see me switch albums. When they heard Linda Ronstadt instead of Muddy Waters, they erupted like I’d snatched the frankincense from Baby Jesus. They tripped all over each other diving to the stereo to correct the defilement of their sacred music.
“What the hell are you doing?” they shouted.
“Get that shit off of there.”
“Are you insane?”
I didn’t know a Hoodoo Man from a Hoochie Coochie Man, or a bottleneck slide from a harmonica belt.
But my boyfriend and his buddies did.
I was too white for those white boys.