WONDERFUL DAY IN
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
And she was dancing because she was standing in a fire ant
2003 Tocqevillian Magazine