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My Black Woman Friend and I Walked Into a Bar…

Marianne is a very popular woman.  She seems to be known to most everyone in this part of town, and liked by all.  I grew accustomed to the greetings she received everywhere we went together.  She was greeted warmly by people at virtually every table we passed on our way to a free table in this popular club.  She responded warmly to all, while I stood back and watched, enjoying the role of the unknown escort for this popular woman

I rarely went to bars, and was unknown in these circles.  I don’t drink, and I have learned that my preference for sobriety has made me suspect by those who enjoy alcohol.  I have come to believe that drinkers feel that I place myself above them, just because I don’t drink with them.  This is not true.  I don’t drink just because I don’t like it.  Many people seem to find that hard to believe, which is something I don’t understand.  I don’t like the taste of beer, although on hot days out on a boat, I do partake of a bit of cold beer.  I don’t like the taste of Scotch, Rye, Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels or any of the other respected beverages.  Nor do I drink any sweet sodas.  I sometimes enjoy soda water or tonic water straight.  Otherwise, black coffee is my preferred beverage.

I guess Marianne noticed some of her friends, or at least people she knows, looking at us with curiosity.  She said something very flattering to me, especially as I’m white, and about fifteen years older than is she.  She leaned close over the table and said softly, “I’m proud to be seen with you.”  I was surprised, as I was proud to be seen with her because of her plentiful popularity.

Marianne is the kind of black person who has overcome her early life of poverty, and elevated herself to a position of considerable respect and responsibility.  She is the best in her field of endeavor.

We finished our croissant and cappuccino and prepared to leave the club.  As we again passed tables that bid cheerful goodbyes to Marianne, a tall, handsome black man in a crisp, conservative suit stood and attempted to address her.  To my surprise, she seemed awkward and embarrassed by his approach.  She brushed him off as gently as possible, and we left the club.  I never mentioned that moment to Marianne, nor did she mention it to me.  To this day, I don’t know if she knew the man, or had never seen him before.  But I’m quite sure of one thing, there was a huge contrast in the way she froze him out while she warmly related to all the white men and women who spoke to her briefly.

I wonder to this day, if Marianne deliberately avoided contact with other Afro-Canadians.  I have no idea.  In any case, she and I are still friends, but at arms length.  The paths of our lives have been separate.  Over the years, she became internationally sought after for her intelligence and experience, while I evolved through my profession as well, and finally retired to distant places. We keep in touch periodically via Facebook, and will likely break bread together again in the not too distant future.

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