Saturday, October 8, 2011

No Colored's Allowed

It's Saturday Song Salute, but before I reveal today's song I think I'll tell you a story first. This is a story of misunderstanding, please enjoy:

This story takes place in Carney's Point, New Jersey in the restaurant section of a Days Inn just off the highway. It is late Saturday morning and many of last night's travelers have long since risen and eaten breakfast, but my family is getting a late start to a new day because we had clung to the previous night dearly and did not want to let it go. We have shuffled down to the dining area and are greeted by two dozen tables covered in the remnants of breakfast, so we choose the least cluttered table and seat ourselves. After a few minutes an exhausted looking waitress appears at our table. She is young, probably still in high school, and she offers a smile that fools none of us before asking what we want. And I'd like to be clear on her line of questioning, "What do you want?" was her exact phrasing.

Pancakes with blueberries. Three eggs, scrambled. Bacon. No, make that sausage. Coffee.
Okay, and you?
2 eggs over easy. Wheat toast. Coffee, cream and sugar.
Okay, what about you?
Western Omelet. Fried potatoes with hot sauce. Toast. Orange juice.
And you?
Chocolate milk. Fruit plate. Toothpicks. Egg whites. A straw.
Toothpicks are by the magazine rack.
Oh, and a coloring book and crayons for the kid. And can I change the sausage back to bacon? And instead of scrambled, can I get fried eggs instead?
Fine. It's gonna be awhile, we got swamped during "regular" breakfast hours and the cook has already started shutting down the grill. You'll just have to wait.

And then she walks away. Soon we are greeted by another young worker who has introduced himself as Rashon. He too is young, most likely still in high school, and is a good looking lightly-colored black man. He excuses himself politely as he reaches onto the table and begins to remove the dirty dishes and left-over food. While he performs the tasks Days Inn demands of him, I begin my discussion of where I would like to hang out and drink once all the cousins show up later in the day. Ideas get tossed around the table and mom & dad recommend places they used to frequent when they lived near here so many years ago.

Gentry's Tavern and Jack's Place have long since shut down, man. Those cats ain't been around since I was in pre-school. Roshon says.

What about Elmer's? They still open?
Yeah man, but you don't wanna go there, the owners, they a bunch of racist pricks. They got a sign on the main door, before you even enter the foyer, that reads "No Colored's Allowed".
Holy shit, I exclaim.
Yeah man, that place is hated by me and all my friends. We often talk about doing sumthin bout it, but of course we never will.

Rashon leaves carrying an armful of dirty dishes as we begin to discuss the astounding nature of what he has just told us. No Colored's Allowed? On the front door of an establishment that exists in the year 2011? It can't be. We refused to believe it, but Rashon's emotion was evidence that this kind of racism still blatantly exists today. The conversation resumed as he returned for a second round of table tidiness.

Yeah man, the parking lot is always full of motorcycles, you know, the sort that would love to lynch a brother and laugh about it over a beer an hour later.
It just can't be, I don't believe it.
Believe it, man, I saw it with my own two eyes. No Colored's Allowed. It's a large white sign with black BOLD lettering. First thing you see before going in.

I thought about it for awhile longer as Rashon began to set out clean dishes for us. Plates, forks,  spoons, cups, napkins. He glanced at my nephew and mentioned how cute he was. We all agreed. And then suddenly it hit me.

Wait a sec, Rashon, tell me something, did that sign specifically say No Colored's Allowed or did it say No Colors Allowed?
Um, it said No Colors Allowed.
I smiled and sat back in my chair. I looked at my family and smiled. I had figured it out. I looked up at Rashon and told him that he had misread the owner's intentions. He stared at me blankly while I explained.
Motorcycle gangs wear "colors" to represent their affiliation. The sign on the door is a warning to motorcycle gangs that they are not allowed to wear their "colors" while they are in Elmer's Bar.
No Colors Allowed.

Well I'll be a son-of-a-bitch, ain't that some shit. All this time, and I thought...
Heh, it's okay Rashon, that's a hell of a misunderstanding that I can easily see how you made. I'm glad you and your friends didn't burn the place to the ground.
I'm real glad too. Thanks man, for bringing that to light. It has been a serious source of irritation for many black folk round these parts. You have no idea what you've just done by shedding a light on the subject.

                                                                           ****

Okay, my Saturday Song Salute goes out to Ben Harper for his song titled Amen Omen. It's a timely pick for me, seeing how I somehow managed to find myself in another failed relationship. Yay, go Mick. In Amen Omen, Ben Harper captures all the emotion of a break-up that is based upon a strong love, and if you can listen to it without having the hairs on your arms stand straight up, then I must assume you are an alien to this musical world. Here, just give it a listen (I apologize for the vampire video that accompanies it, I couldn't find an official video version of the song. My suggestion is right click the link and open in a new tab, that way you can avoid watching it but still hear it):

Amen Omen

Lyrics:

What started as a whisper,
Slowly turned in to a scream.
Searching for an answer
Where the question is unseen.
I don't know where you came from
And I don't know where you've gone.
Old friends become old strangers
Between the darkness and the dawn

Amen omen,will I see your face again?
Amen omen,can I find the place within
To live my life without you?

I still hear you saying
"All of life is chance,
And is sweetest,is sweetest when at a glance"
But I live,
I live a hundred lifetimes in a day.
But I die a little
In every breath that I take.

Amen omen,will I see your face again?
Amen omen,can I find the place within
To live my life without you?

I listen to a whisper,
Slowly drift away.
Silence is a loudest,
Parting word you never say.
I put I put your world
Into my veins
Now a voiceless sympathy
Is all that remains.

Amen omen,will I see your face again?
Amen omen,can I find the place within
To live my life without you?

Amen omen,can i find the strength within

4 comments:

  1. I gotta say it. I dislike that song. A lot. I love the lyrics, but the way he sings it REALLY bothers me. I can't even listen to the whole thing without my ears begging me to turn it off. Beautiful lyrics, annoying vocals.

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  2. Oh. Wow. That is the first time I've ever heard anyone say they didn't like Ben Harper's vocals! And of course after reading your comment I had to immediately throw on the headphones and give it another listen, to which I now say... I do sort of get it. I can see how some people could be turned off by his wavering, wailing overly-emotional outburst in this song. Even still, I dig it, because I'm a big sap ;)

    Thanks for the comment, Ernie.

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  3. I agree with the lady on this one. Swell lyrics, but the vocals are an acquired taste. Though, just the other day, I was sucking on ketchup packets in an effort to trick my stomach into thinking I was eating meatloaf. So maybe I haven't given him a fair enough chance?

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  4. Listening to other Harper songs I find he doesn't get as carried away as he does in this song. Maybe that's it? I read that he wrote this song after he moved out of his parent's house, and that it's about loss of never having his mother's meatloaf again. So I get your ketchup packet suckage, Brit. I really do.

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