Yesterday Bobby and I walked over to the path we usually take around the lake. Sitting on a stoop, presumably waiting on the omnipresent Fred, was an unfamiliar person. I, always quick to assess my environs and collect information on hangers about, approached him, letting Bobby sniff him up. The man was not fighting off Bobby, but he also wasn’t too excited to be bomb-sniffed by a cocker spaniel. We entered into the three Southern Black American exchanges:
FIRST: How you doin’? I’m doin’ alright.
SECOND: My name’s Von, what’s your name? Miller.
I extended my hand towards Miller, clasped his, and shook it, expecting reciprocal pressure and shake. Instead, I flicked a limp, seemingly boneless arm, feeling much like flicking a water hose to detangle. In my head I thought, you call that a handshake?
Just as I thought it, Miller commented, “You got an arm on ya, now!”
And then, THIRD: You got a man?
I decided upon that weak ass handshake of Miller’s to expand on his question. Are you asking me if I got a man, or if I AM a man?
He really did offer a look of complete uncertainty.
Come on, Bobby. Miller, nice to meet you. Tell Fred I said hello.
Miller called after me, something about putting Bobby on a leash. I shrugged my shoulders, ‘Why?’ and kept it moving.