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Gene Royer

Gene Royer is a staunch conservative. He is also a Policy Governance ® consultant and writer. He is the author of School Board Leadership 2000 - The Things Staff Didn't Tell You At Orientation and his international practice is based in Houston

    by Gene Royer

    May 15, 2003

    This morning when I was doing my customary two-mile run through the subdivision, I came upon a neighbor wearing an African tribal garb and doing a little rhythmic dance in her front yard. She saw me coming and raised a hand to wave. I waved back.

    I knew several things about her from past conversations. FIRST: I knew that she was a very vocal anti-war protestor. SECOND: I knew that she had tried unsuccessfully for a number of years to trace her African roots. THIRD: In spite of the fact that she had given herself an informal tribal name, she was in fact as much an American as I--she being a sixth-generation American from a small town in South Central Louisiana not far from where I was born.

    The sun was not yet up, and the overcast sky dealt an eerie cast to her odd terpsichore. But curiosity and the morning's low-hanging humidity urged me to slow and chat.

    As I approached, she stopped dancing; and it was then that I noticed a small brown box in her hands which she had been waving around during her weird gyration. In the low light, I assumed it was part of her vicarious ritual--some kind of tribal enable to aid her attempt to connect.

    I purposely steered away from points political and asked her about the colorful gown she wore, and the round, flat-topped cap on her head. She said it was sent to her by a friend in Africa with whom she had been communicating, and it helped her envision her *roots*. I suspected as much and said I understood.

    I said that anything we can do to help us connect with our roots is well worth the trouble. She said she agreed.

    I told her I often go to the liquor cabinet and pull out the expensive bottle of Cognac a friend sent me from France because I have French ancestry, and it helps me envision my own French/Cajun roots.

    "Especially when I take about three shots of it."

    She said, "Uh-huh."

    And then I continued running.

    As I put distance between us, I chuckled to myself at my own propensity to form opinions about people at first glance. For example, on closer inspection, the small box in her hand turned out not to be a tribal enabler at all. It was a hand-cranked fertilizer spreader.

    And she was dancing because she was standing in a fire ant bed.

    © 2003 Tocqevillian Magazine