Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Little Chickens' Academy for Self-Defense

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Road Trip Lesson Number Three: My Lady Has a Supersensitive Sense of Smell

You can learn a lot about your traveling companion when you spend 30 hours together in the cramped confines of a Honda Civic. The combination of limited space and extended contact can bring all kinds of personality quirks to the fore. Around the second day of our trip, it became clear to me that My Lady has a superhuman sense of smell. She sniffed out the faintest scents 30 to 60 seconds before I did, and sometimes smelled things that I couldn't even detect. Every few minutes for the length of the trip, she complained about some odor or another that offended her sensitive little nose. In order to illustrate this, allow me to share some of those outbursts with you. Maybe I can drive you as crazy as she drove me.

In no particular order:

"I smell sausage."

"Do you smell that? Something smells like vomit."

"You stink."

"I wish I had some Febreze to spray you with."

"Stay away from me. I stink."

"You want a mint?"

"This hotel smells like cigarettes."

"You smell that? Something in here smells like the ocean."

"This car stinks."

"I smell onions."

"I smell like onions."

"I smell onions."

"Did you smell that skunk?"

"Let me smell your hands."

"I smell a car on fire."

"Please change your socks."

"Something smells like manure."

I was so relieved when we finally pulled up to My Lady's new apartment complex in California. After we picked up the keys from the leasing office, we headed to Apartment 207. The first thing that she said when we crossed the threshold was, "This place stinks." I turned around and went back to the car.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Road Trip Lesson Number Two: My Manhood Costs $197

Before My Lady and I set out on our cross-country road trip, I expressed trepidation about the Texas police that I might encounter along the way. I wondered if we would make it out of Texas with all our limbs in tact. But as you might guess, the worries I expressed were my glib attempt at humor. I never figured that I would actually come face to face with the Texas State Patrol. Silly me.

On the final stretch of Interstate 10 before El Paso and the New Mexico border, I took my turn behind the wheel. We had been driving for more than 10 hours (Texas is a big state), so I was eager to stop for the night and find a hotel. I drove with the anticipation that marks the last leg of any journey. The day's end was in sight. Maybe that's why I was driving 95 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone. Or maybe not.

Speeding is a macho thing for me. It's about reaching my destination faster than any man ever has and then bragging about it. It's the satisfying feeling that comes with zooming past car after car on the highway. And then there's the purely phyical sensation in the pit of the stomach from going really, really fast. My manhood heightens with each white line, telephone pole, each highway exit that I whiz past -- until, of course, I whiz by the Texas State Patrol.

He came out of nowhere. I looked in my rear view mirror and he was just there, poof, like a white ghost in the night. I looked at My Lady. "He got me, baby."

"What?" She followed my gaze and looked over her shoulder out the back window. The sqaud car's lights weren't flashing and the siren hadn't sounded. "I don't think so. Relax"

"Nah, he got me." A man knows. Just then the lights flashed. I drove to the shoulder of the highway. There was a time when getting pulled over would have instantly replaced any feelings of machismo with deference, but, for whatever reason, I've grown more defiant over the past few months.

The cop approached the passenger window and asked for my license and registration. I quickly produced both documents.

"Why were you going so fast," he asked.

"Officer, I didn't realize. I was just enjoying the open road." He smiled. I smiled back.

"Where you guys going," he asked.


He walked back to his squad car, checked my information in the system and, I'm guessing, found that I am the most upstanding, law abiding black man there ever was. Still he came back with a citation.

"Here you go, sir. The judge's name is Ms. Jock. Call her to discuss your case."

"Okay. How much is the ticket?"

"It's $197."

My Lady offered to split the cost with me, and I quickly turned down her offer. "I was speeding. It's my ticket. You wouldn't have been driving that fast."

"Probably not."

"So I'll pay for it."

But she wouldn't let up. After a few minutes of back-and-forth, I relented. My manhood cost $197 and My Lady paid for half of it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Road Trip Lesson Number One: Rednecks Need Lovin' Too

As you know, before My Lady and I embarked on our cross-county road trip, I had a few preconceptions about the dangers we might encounter in the rural parts of Texas. Now that we've safely arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area and I've gained the knowledge that comes with experience, it's appropriate that I reconsider some of my earlier assertions. Allow me to pass on a few lessons from the road. Here is the first:

Rednecks are human. They bleed like we bleed. They breathe like we breathe. They eat and sleep and work and play like we do. They even love like we love. Look at Bubba and Mary Jo in their love nest -- the bed of this muddy pick-up truck. Are they so different? I think not.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

To the West, My Brother, to the West

My Lady and I are driving to California tomorrow. Pray for us. I am dark-skinned and she is light-skinned, so the Texas police and rednecks will be out to get us. I'm sure I'll have stories when we get to the other side, if we get to the other side.

Sorry Babatunde, Kunte and Mufasa. Keep Movin'.

Last week, I went to lunch with My Lady, Kim, and her friend from work, Amber. The meal was a chance for the two ladies to say their goodbyes, since Kim had just quit her job to prepare for law school. The meal was also a chance for me to meet Amber, the subject of many of Kim's funny work stories.

We went to a restaurant called Cheddar's, a franchise that serves tasty comfort food. Over an all-American meal of slow-cooked green beans, broccoli casserole and, of course, fried chicken, conversation turned to international race relations.

"I don't mess with Africans," Amber said. Amber is a buxom, twenty-something black woman. She snaps her fingers and rolls her eyes when she talks. "I do not have sex with them."

I was alone in my surprise at this categorical choice in men; Kim had already heard the African avoidance story more than once. Eager to get to the bottom of her rationale, I pressed her to explain. "What you got against mother Africa, the giver of life, the cradle of civilization, the land from which our ancestors came?"

"Nothin'. But you can't give blood if you've slept with an African. If I can't give blood, I ain't messing with 'em." I looked at Kim. She smiled.

"Huh? What you talkin' bout?"

"The last time I went to give blood, they gave me a list of questions. One of them was, have you ever slept with an African? If you check the "yes" box, you can't give blood."

"They said it just like that? I don't believe you." I hate when people refer to others as African rather than the term that represents their national origin, like Moroccan or Tanzanian.

"Yep." Amber stared me down. "I'm not trying to have nothin' in my blood that I can't give to somebody else. Nothin'"

"So I guess you've never dated an African?"

"Oh, I have. And when he started hugging and kissing and touching on me, I told him to chill."

"You tell him why?"

"You know it!"

"What did he say?"

"I don't remember, but that was the last time we saw each other."

Of course it was. Unfortunately, that lunch was the last time that Kim and I would see Ms. Amber. I'll forever cherish the memory of her special taste in men. Sorry my brothers from the motherland. She's not interested.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Your Suspicions Confirmed

Those who regularly read the blog know that I've had my share of run-ins with white folks, and vice-versa. Lest you think that my humorous accounts aren't reflective of reality, here is some scientific proof, courtesy of my homie, JC.

It's settled: white people are scared of me, and I am scared of them. Now what?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Quint's First Cartoon

Friday, August 12, 2005

Returns, Exchanges and Other Peculiar Policies

You probably know that a White Party is a huge bash where all the guests wear white clothes. This is different from a Whites Only Party where all the guests are white. Not long ago, a friend and I decided to check out a local White Party. (We're saving the Whites Only Party for a future weekend.) Because I didn't have any party-appropriate attire, I went to the mall and bought some loose-fitting white linen pants. Despite their appeal, I soon realized that I would probably never wear the pants again, so I decided to return them for a refund. I ironed out the wrinkles and sprayed them with Febreze. Then I put them in the original shopping bag along with the receipt and headed to the mall.

When I got to the department store, I looked for the cashier with the most forgiving demeanor. The nicer the cashier, the easier my return, I thought. I chose a twenty-something white guy with curly brown hair and an easy-going smile. I approached his counter when there weren't any shoppers in line; I pulled the pants from the shopping bag and placed them in front of him. The tags dangled from the waistband; I'd had the forsight to leave them attached.

"I want to return these white pants," I said. "Here's the receipt."

"Would you like to look around and find something else," he asked as he examined the pants.

"Nah man. I'm cool. I would like a refund."

"Was there anything wrong with the pants?"

"I would just like a refund."

"Okay, sir". He held up the pants in front of him. They were still a little wrinkled and smelled a bit too strongly of Febreze. He dropped the pants in a heap on the counter and picked up the receipt. He stared at the receipt, and then at the pants, and then at me. "We only accept items that are in their original condition. Have these pants been worn?"

"No. No. I just bought them yesterday. Look at the receipt."

Ignoring my request, he pulled the pants close to his face, closed his eyes and sniffed. "I can't take these pants."

"What are you talking about? They've never been worn! I promise you that."

Seemingly convinced, he neatly folded the pants on the counter. Then, in a final effort to check the pants for wear, he fished through the pockets and found a five dollar bill. "You sure you haven't worn these pants," he asked as he dangled the money in front of me. "Do you want this money back?"

He caught me. "Man, it's not like anything will happen to you if you take the pants back," I pleaded.

"Sir, if I take those pants back, I will get lynched," he said with a strange nonchalance.

Time stopped. I looked at him sideways, a bit baffled. "You will get lynched?" I didn't know that Macy's had a lethal return policy. "Gimme my five dollars, man. And gimme my damn white pants!" I walked off in a huff.

Next time I'm choosing a black cashier. He'll have a better concept of what is and isn't a lynchable offense.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

NABJ 2005 Convention Coverage

The National Association of Black Journalists Convention was at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Atlanta. More than 3,000 people from around the country came for the workshops, career fair and networking opportunities. I spent most of my time at the career fair getting turned away by editor after editor for my lack of daily deadline experience (as opposed to all my weekly and monthly deadline experience). The whole convention was pretty disheartening. Still, I managed to inject some levity into an otherwise joyless few days. I am Quint, after all.

There was a bank of laptop computers -- the "Cyber Cafe" -- in the lobby outside the career fair where conventioneers could check their email and surf the Web. The area was always crowded; on the whole, journalists are email addicts. Seeing the crowd as a group of untapped viewers for my blog, I hatched a little marketing scheme to direct those inquiring journalistic minds to this Web site.

Early, early one morning, before too many black journalists had come down the escalator to the career fair, I changed the home pages of a few of the laptops from the NABJ website to "The Quintessential Negro." Tickled pink by my own mischief, I hid behind a pillar and watched the comedy unfold. In the tradition of the most comical black journalists (Jayson Blair et al), here is my less than coherent report:

"What is this," asked the lady at the first laptop.

"What is this," asked the lady at the second.

What is this," asked the man at the third.

They must have been shocked to see the little cartoon renderings of themselves (courtesy of My Lady). I laughed. Luckily, they couldn't see me behind the pillar. Unfortunately, however, everyone on the opposite side of the room could. Maybe that's why no one wanted to hire me.

After a few minutes, a second group of black journalists approached the Cyber Cafe.

"Sspbpbpbpbpbh..." (That's the sound that black people's lips make when they laugh with their mouths closed. A little bit of spit usually sprays out.) Rainbow colored spit specks dotted the laptop screens. Satisfied with this impact on state of black journalism, I headed to the career fair to get rejected anew.

When I returned to the Cyber Cafe a little later, a couple of security guards in cheap black suits stood beside the computers. They ambled about and slyly peered over the shoulders of unsuspecting computer users. When my turn at the computer came, I opened Microsoft Explorer and found that, to my utter chagrin, Quint's fifteen minutes of fame had passed. Suddenly the National Association of Black Journalists Convention was a little less funny.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Out of Office Auto Illustration

I'll be away from my computer for the next few days attending the National Association of Black Journalists Convention. Hilarious blog posts will resume upon my return. Should you need to laugh immediately, please browse through my archives or contact My Lady, Kim Plaintive, or one of my colleagues, the Kang or the Prince of Zamunda.