The other day, I realized that Riverside County has moved into the Red Tier, so the bars and restaurants that have survived this 15-month lockdown can finally invite customers back inside. This was excellent news, since my wife and I have refused to hide under the bed through this pandemic. Instead, we have had patio dinners in 105 degree heat while being soaked by misters and blasted by fans. We’ve also sat in 56 degree chill while being toasted by propane-fueled umbrellas glowing red-hot.
But now, the chance to sit inside an actual bar felt like a breath of mask-free air. Around cocktail time, I visited one of my favorite neighborhood happy places. There was little room at the bar, so I sat at a high-top along the back wall, which afforded me a view of the entire room. It’s not a blue-collar bar, because there were no collars at all, just a variety of t-shirts – including mine – with the names of various contractors, plumbers, and concert tours on the back. Most of the customers were in their late fifties/early sixties. A few were in their late twenties.
Clint Black was on the jukebox. At the far left of the bar, a white man in his sixties slowly, almost unconsciously, stroked the calf of his black wife or girlfriend of approximately the same age. Nobody cared. Shortly after, she stood in place, put an arm around his neck, danced a little to the music, and kissed him gently on the cheek. Nobody cared, except those two, who cared a lot. On the TV, behind the bar, the Tigers and Indians were playing the first game of the season. In the snow. The snowflakes were as big, fat, and wet as you’d see in a Peanuts comic strip. In the first inning, Detroit First Baseman Miguel Cabrera, against all odds, hit a home run. In the near whiteout, evidently even he couldn’t see it cleared the fence before dropping back into right field because he slid into second. In the snow. The customers cared. A lot.
Soon after, the bartender, a friendly LatinX man, stepped out from the bar and asked each customer if they wanted another round. Everyone answered him politely. To my right, four healthy guys, who had clearly just gotten off work, sat at another high-top and shared a variety of drinks in cans, bottles and glasses. Two had their back to me. One that I could see had translucent white skin, Viking red hair, and a ZZ Top-length beard. The other was a black man so dark he was nearly mahogany, with his hair pulled into a man bun, They were having a great time.
If you haven’t guessed, this was the afternoon of April 1: April Fool’s Day. The only thing that stretched credibility was Cabrera’s nearly impossible Winter Olympics home run. The total lack of racial tension, animosity, or even racial awareness is completely real here. Every day.
I would never have mentioned race at all, but President Biden, Vice President Harris, the Democrat Party, liberal media, and the teachers in charge of America’s children continue to tell us that everywhere we look, we should see systemic racism. Should I keep looking till they’re happy?