Monday, October 12, 2009
Not FJM: Tim Sullivan, Kevin Towers & Scary Black People
We haven't gotten all racial 'round these parts in awhile.
About a week ago, the San Diego Padres fired their General Manager Kevin Towers. For you non-baseball fans who still remember 1996, the GM is the guy who would sit down with, say, "Jerry Maguire" on behalf of a pro sports team so that they could negotiate a player's contract. There's a "wheeler n' dealer" mythology associated with a GM's job that really isn't relevant anymore.
Also, not relevant is the underlying tone in the opening paragraph of this eulogy written by The San Diego Union-Tribune's Tim Sullivan:
Kevin Towers walked into a Waffle House in Texas late one night and soon surmised that he was the only Caucasian in the restaurant.
He would admit later to some awkwardness, but feeling out of place is a temporary condition where KT is concerned. Whatever you might think of his baseball decisions, no one in the game can work a room more charismatically.
Standing there in the restaurant, Towers swiftly weighed his alternatives. Too hungry to leave, too resourceful to be intimidated and much too proud to beg, he walked over to the juke box, dumped some change into the slot and began ordering from an all-Motown menu.
Soon, the restaurant was filled with music and with mirth. Towers attacked another defenseless plate that had been “scattered, smothered and covered,” left an oversized tip and caused his grateful waitress to inquire how soon he might be back.
Where to begin?!
Well, let's start at the top. Towers "surmised" that he was the only white guy in the restaurant. Was his "white guy sense" tingling? Or was it the same way Batman would surmise the Penguin was involved with the theft of a billion-dollar bejeweled statue of a blue jay simply because it was a bird-related crime? (That's right, TWO tired comic book references!)
Towers admitted to some awkwardness? I love this! He's walking into a Waffle House, not a Bloods n' Crips alumni picnic. I've been the "only Black guy" in the room for as far back as I can remember. I was bused out to a "better" school way back in 2nd grade. All the way through to high school, there was no missing my peanut butter-colored mug in any class picture. This continued through college and into a professional career all while living in a city that'll never be confused with Atlanta or Washington DC.
Hell, Mrs. Bootleg and I were the only Black people in our own wedding party! For those scoring at home, there were white folk, a guy from Thailand, one Filipino, a woman from Mexico and one from Puerto Rico. Oh, and spanakopita was one of our appetizers.
Here's my favorite part of the excerpt:
Too hungry to leave, too resourceful to be intimidated and much too proud to beg…
Doesn't this sound just a tad dramatic? It's the type of line I'd have expected to see written about Martin Luther King entering any Birmingham diner in 1959. A well-to-do white guy didn't turn around and walk out of that Waffle House? Free at last. (Also, what would he be begging for?)
Thankfully, Towers turned on the jukebox and the eatery was "…filled with music and mirth…". The morale of our story, as always: Jigaboos love them some soul music.
We sure do.