Richard e Hill - a Writer's Journal

A Night at the Opera & Rodney King

A Night at the Opera and Rodney King

The “Super-Date”, the activity or event that will sculpt you on the personal Mount Rushmore and perpetually preserve your status on the “not so private” Top 5 List ---- rhetorically, what is the purpose of a Top 5 List if it is to remain forever private?

During this social personal interaction referred to as dating, there are some dates that are deemed overwhelmingly superior to others ---- the Super-Date. This event supersedes a night at the A-list club, dining at trendy usually overpriced restaurants or (fill in your own adjective) spas. Those are reverted to the “Oh yeah I did that List” (fill in your own time i.e. once, twice; etcetera).  Some are fortunate to have had more than one “Super-Date”; in contemporary slang, “they got it like that”.

On such an occasion “back in the day”, the venue was the Civic Opera House in Chicago. My date and I had arrived early and she dashed off to the Ladies Room to “freshen up” as I dutifully waited at the base of the elegant main floor plush carpeted stairway. I don’t know what there was to be improved upon as she was absolutely head turning stunning in her “this old thing that I finally got a chance to wear” dress and fresh hairdo. This afforded me the opportunity to exercise my eyes as an admitted philogynist. The glamorous ladies gracefully ascended the stairs attired in long haute couture evening gowns, glittering pumps and stylishly coiffed. The visual festival was interrupted when a man “allegedly assuming I was an usher”, handed me $10.00 and asked me if I could direct him to the box seats ---- I know those that know me or are either laughing or shuddering at my reaction.

The events unfolded in synchronized frozen moments:

1.       His date while obviously embarrassed gasped, “He’s not an usher!”

2.       I beckoned to a legitimate usher about five paces away, feigned putting the ten spot in my pocket, but passed it to the hurriedly arriving usher in a palmed handshake and a quick wink saying “Take care of this couple he’s a big tipper”.

3.       A couple accompanying “the big tipper” and two other couples roared in laughter as did others as the story was quickly relayed. One gentleman noting my custom made attire humorously added speaking to his date, “if the ushers wear tuxes like this, I hate to ask what these tickets cost”. More laughter. Another gentleman chimed in, “First round is on me at intermission; where’s the bar?” I added to the levity, “Give me ten bucks and I’ll tell you.”

4.       My date suddenly appeared (she could not have gotten very far) saying “I don’t know what happened, but I knew you would be involved.” Then humorously scolded, “Can’t take you anywhere.”

5.       The corps of ladies bonded and soothed the “big tipper’s” thoroughly embarrassed and distressed date.

6.       After a couple of minutes in real time that seemed like an hour where one-liners were exchanged with the expanding group that was beginning to create an obstruction everyone segued to the stairway to take their seats. Was I a fish out of water as one observer noted? To which I responded, “dat wouldn’t be da Kingfish would it”, before presenting some polemics regarding Black classical musical innovators ---- Beethoven, his mentor Haydn and Mozart a friend. (Don’t get me started.) I was more like a fish returning to place of spawn”.    

7.       Another gentleman added, “Don’t forget, second level bar at Intermission!”

8.       I rejoinder-ed, “Don’t forget the ten bucks.” More laughter with someone adding “Screw the Opera, the show is right here, this guy is a riot!”

9.       With an accidental shoulder bump, I brushed past the “big tipper’s” smirking scowl and extended hand while introducing my date and myself to some of the other couples as we began to hea

incident and others illustrated that in a crisis situation that Whites are in the majority supportive and the specter of bigotry is declining. 

 

Just a misunderstanding, a faux pas or a matter requiring redress?  ---- All a matter of perception, just as what constitutes a “super date” is.

Somehow this incident was recalled as I heard the news on Father’s Day that Rodney King died ---- my father transitioned to the spiritual plane on Father’s Day slightly more than a decade ago.

My perception of Mr. King changed over the years. At first I was resentful that this convicted felon who participated in all phases of illicit drugs as a user, abuser and purveyor could share the podium with icons of Civil Rights. Although no one should suffer the police abuse that Mr. King experienced, empathy was absent in my assessment. He eruditely used this experience as an epiphany and deserves respect for adopting what appears to have been a more positive lifestyle ---- again perception, but in his famous words “can’t we all just get along?”

 

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