Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Sweet Tea Incident

Anger is one letter short of danger. - Unknown

1986. Aw the time of my youthful innocence before my wit and charm were discovered. This was a big year. The tragedy of the Challenger shuttle. The historical passing of Haley's Comet. The Christmas were I received my first boom box (ok it was a double deck radio but still) along with my first rap tapes of Run DMC's Raising Hell and Orange Juice Jones' In the Rain. And it would be the first time I see my mother cut a fool on non-family members in public.

You already got a dose of how my mom can react when you try to step into the arena with her. Well this particular day in '86, I learned upfront that she doesn't restrict her stuff to just family. Let me first say this about my moms if I haven't already. She's one of the coolest, friendliest people in the world. She's the type that will talk to strangers in an elevator and in less than 5 minutes will have you opening up about you and your life. That's just the type of person she is. But if you cross her wrong, that friendliness turns into the Dark Side, which means someone's hand is getting cut off.

Growing up in South Carolina, there were two big events that happened during the year: Mayfest in May and the State Fair in October. Mayfest usually took place in downtown Columbia where all kind of vendors were trying to get their hustle on. My mom or dad would take us every year as it was a chance for them to get us out and let us wear our energy out on unsuspecting people. In '86, I remember my mom took me, my sister, and my boy Wes to Mayfest.

Now forgive me if my memory is a lil hazy here but I will do my best to recall this event as best as I can. I know we had been walking around for a good minute and my mom got real thirsty. She was so thirsty, we stopped at this Chinese food vendor where she asked for sweet tea. One thing I should mention is my mom had on this all white sundress. As the lady was preparing my mom's drink, she turned around to talk to us and make sure we were alright. Somehow or another when she turned back around, the cashier mistakenly thought my mom had her hand and tried to hand her the tea. Instead of hitting her hand, the whole cup of tea spilled on my mom's dress. Like I said, a white dress. And this is drink hitting a black woman's dress. What do you think happened next :-)?

My mom first was pretty calm about it, started trying to wipe the mess off her dress, but having no success as she has this huge tea stain on her dress. She then started telling the cashier that the dress will have to be dry cleaned and she needs the restaurant's info so she can send them the bill. The cashier was Chinese and unfortunately her English was bad. But she understood enough to say that the situation wasn't her fault or really "Not my fault, you spill on self." Like I said above, this is a black woman here. After repeatedly telling my mom "you spill on self", my mom went into defcom 9 mode. Calmness was replaced by aggressiveness when my mom now calling for a manager before as she said "curses someone out."

Now there was this white lady and her boyfriend also standing there watching the whole incident. As my mom is giving the cashier and the rest of the staff the business, the white lady interjects with "It's just tea, it's not that big of a deal." Again I say this is a black woman. My mom stopped mid sentence with the Chinese lady, turned towards the white lady, and gave her this look that said "Heifer does it look like I'm talking to you...". Her boyfriend wisely said "Um let's go over this way dear" and pulled her arm. My mom flipped back to the Chinese lady and longstory short, got them to agree to pay for the damages. I think it was a matter of mom just kept coming at them and she ultimately won the battle of wills.

Today's Lesson

I learned 3 things that day. One, don't ever stick your nose in black people's business. Two, keep arguing until you win. Three, the most important don't ever cross my mama wrong. EVER. I remember my boy Wes bringing that day up to me a few years ago and was rolling how he didn't want to make my mom mad LOL.

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