Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   successfully surprised
Saturday, March 27 2004
This evening Gretchen and I were invited to someone's surprise 50th birthday party at a new restaurant called the Clove in High Falls. It was an unexpectedly lavish affair, as expensive as many wedding receptions I've attended. The surprised person, the wife of one of our mutual clients, was so touched by it all that she started weeping, saying it was the best birthday she'd ever had. Reactions like this are why people throw surprise birthday parties.
I didn't stray far from Gretchen for most of the evening, although the noisiness of the banquet room was such that I could barely hear the conversation she was having with the person on her other side.
Later we all sat down at tables and ate food carried from a buffet. There was a white woman at our table who hailed from New Orleans and I made the mistake of casually mentioning the racism of the Deep South. Unexpectedly, her reaction was noticeably combative and defensive. After first making me repeat myself twice on the pretense that she hadn't heard me, she sarcastically observed that of course there is no racism in New York or Philadelphia. I agreed with her point, but in immediate retrospect I realized I shouldn't have. Instead of being agreeable, I should have talked about the casual segregation I'd observed along the Gulf Coast. I'm talking here about the kind of segregation one never sees in New York (or, for that matter, Virginia). I refer you to the two massage machines I'd seen operating in a shopping mall in Biloxi. White customers had been being directed to one while black customers had been directed to the other. They were otherwise identical, but the point is that each race was being kept from coming in contact with a machine that the other race had touched. At the time it had seemed to me like an informal maintenance of a status quo leftover from the days of Jim Crow and separate but "equal."
I could have made a point here, the sort that maybe only an outsider to the Deep South can make. But I missed the opportunity. The lesson here is that unless you're willing to back your assertions with evidence, don't bother making them.

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