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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Please Come to Boston

This post was inspired by GP's Boston glasses.

My now ex, Zoe, and I were in Boston on Flag Day, 1991, when, pretty much at the last minute, around 5:30 p.m., we decided to go to Fenway Park and see if we could score a couple tickets to the game starting about an hour and a half later. We held little hope, for the game featured the pitching duel of Red Sox's ace Roger Clemens (whatever happened to him?) and the California Angels' one-handed wonder Jim Abbott. Surprisingly, not only did we get seats, we got GREAT seats right behind home plate. I'm thinking that someone must have turned in tickets at the last moment.

What I remember about the game is that California was ahead early, Clemens spent too much time keeping Dave Winfield on first base, and that the Red Sox came back to win. The box score of the game is here.

Afterwards, we went to the Howard Johnson nearby, where we stayed. We decided to go down to the hotel bar to get a couple drinks. It was fairly busy, with several people trying to gain the bartender's attention. At some point, he acknowledged that he saw me and stuck up his index finger in the "just a minute" fashion. But what eventually became apparent is that people who came after me were being served, but I was not. And people who came after them were being served, and I, standing in the front, still was not, only being given "just a minute". The "interesting" thing about this that only he, I and someone carefully observing the scene would be aware of what was going on. Also, he never didn't serve me, he only hadn't "gotten around" to serving me. Any claim of discrimination would have been very difficult to prove.

What I felt was a deep volcano of rage, the kind of furor that if I had had a baseball bat, I would have been sorely tempted to smash all of the glasses hanging over the bar. Of course, I really wouldn't because 1)I could have hurt an innocent, and 2)I would have been arrested, a black man gone crazy for "no reason". Or I could have started yelling, demanding service, but that, too, would have likely make me look as though I had wanted preferential treatment.

Zoe and I left the bar, and I complained to the night manager of the hotel, who recommended I write to the day manager. I did write him, and also my credit card company, but never got any satisfaction.

I've been to Boston subsequently, had a good time, didn't have any difficulties. But GP, the Boston form of racism, indeed, the Northern form of racism, tends to be far more subtle, more clever than in there was in the South in the 1950s and 1960s. In fact, from what I can gather from folks I know in the South, folks with racist attitudes have adopted the more subtle forms of discrimination from their Northern brethren (and sisterern). So, GP, keep that gray filter on those rose-colored glasses.
Jim Abbott, motivational speaker.

1 comment:

GayProf said...

Yeah, I feel what you are laying down. Boston still has a shocking level of segregation. I think one of the problems with “lefty” areas is that people think by simply living in a left city means that they don’t have to think about racism/sexism/homophobia any more.

I can say, however, that a popular student bar in my former Eastern Texas town had been known to be refusing entrance to African American and Latino students. They always claimed that it was about “dress code” (which was difficult to prove). Somehow, though, the clientele always ended up as lily-white. Apparently only white folks knew how to dress.