Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Waitress Named Quinn








If it wasn’t for a stupid internet meme running around I wouldn’t have remembered the woman named Quinn. Oh not the beloved show about a Doctor Quinn out in the old west who happened to be female but a waitress I once knew long ago, who had a really unusual name. But then again, maybe her real name wasn’t Quinn, and having that one her nametag was who she was when she was where she was. Toni Morrison wasn’t Toni Morrison at birth and I was born with someone else’s name, myself. Some of us are like stray dogs who remember being called something once, another name, but life changed, a lot.

Quinn had skin the color of coffee with just the right amount of chocolate soy milk in it. Her face was a little flat, no high cheek bones here, and there was a slight hint that maybe a grandparent might have come from China in her eyes. Quinn was a little on the tall side, a little on the skinny side, and she strayed over to where beauty hides more often than not, when she smiled but most women do.

She stopped one day, at lunch, and sat down across from me and asked me what I was writing. I told her that I was writing everything that came into my head and everyone who came into the restaurant and I wish I would have asked her if she wrote, but it didn’t occur to me that she did. At that point in my life a lot of things didn’t occur to me and one of them was to ask people about their creativity. Most people won’t talk to you about it right away but they will eventually because they want to know it’s not some rare disease that only inflicts them. When she sat down across from me I saw her eyes were a sort of clear blue color you won’t find anywhere on earth except as an eye color in someone whose parents weren’t the same shade of any hue.

Quinn had a small tattoo on the inside of her forearm just seven or eight centimeter square. If not for the skill of the artist who drew it, and I often wonder if Quinn was that artist, it might have meant and shown less. But it was very nicely played and laid and it showed a scene of tall grass, in the wind that spoke of an approaching storm. It’s hard to describe how something that small was done that well, but it was.

She had other tattoos, but time and modesty kept the conversation from getting any deeper or going any further. Quinn and I parted ways, I left her a good tip, but she wasn’t there the next time I ate lunch there and I never saw her again after that day. They said she got a better job and moved on but I will never know.

What I really wanted to do is ask her how it felt inside her skin and not so much look at what was on the outside of it. I wanted to know where she grew up, for clearly she was far too articulate to have been raised in The South. If one of the first ten words a person speaks is “Ain’t” there can be an assumption that person is local to this region where words are blurred and butchered, botched and dropped, as if a disdain for language skills is an Olympic event. All of this happened over a decade ago, before tattoos really started to go mainstream, if they really are yet, and it was fairly uncommon to see a waitress with a visible work of art on her arm.


So where was Quinn from and how did she arrive in South Georgia? There’s an Air Force base nearby so she might have been military, in some shape, fashion or form. Thr real question I would like to ask is this, “does being multiracial make you a part of everything or does it make you apart from everything?” This is not a question I could answer or even hope to answer on my own. Most of my life was lived with there being only two kinds of people; black and white. I remember in my early childhood seeing a color television for the first time. I thought the color was too intense and that no one would watch it because it was too different.

Now color televisions are everywhere and it’s getting to the point that black and white people are becoming less the norm. The pigeon holes are finding more on the outside than on the inside. People are beginning to breed outside the expectations of the generations of prejudice and ignorance. The end results are a race of people who are going to be forever different than the way things were for hundreds of years.

If Quinn and someone of her same genetic match up produce children then whatever shall we call these people? What box shall we offer to allow them to check? Suddenly, the boxes seem just a little outdated like the “Whites Only” signs that I saw when I was a child. Quinn might be able to pass for white, or pass for black, or even someone from Asian. Simply by being alive Quinn transforms our world, even if there are those who cannot accept her. Whatever sign they hang or whoever they hang, the people who want the world to stop turning and for time to stand still are going to lose that fight. I think it’s already been lost. I cannot imagine things returning to how they were.

What I would really love one day is for someone who has a variety of races all mixed into their lives to tell me that I’m wrong, that it’s different now, and my fears are unfounded. I would like to live long enough to see the day that I’m a minority and anyone who isn’t blended is as well. I think that day will come.

Until that day does come, I hope Quinn is treated well by the last of the dinosaurs. I hope they can accept the idea a new age is upon us and there is no turning back.

I would like for Quinn to have a good life because of who she is and what she can do.

Take Care,

Mike

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