I know, peaches are normally associated with Georgia. But they grow fine peaches in Alabama.
We were driving out near Rosa Park’s home town. On our way back to Montgomery, the kids passed out in the back seat. Those of you who have small children (and most who don’t!) will understand the issue: you don’t want them to wake up before they’re ready! They’ll be about as happy as a hung-over adult roused out of bed after three hours. Not a good thing!
Now, for context, I must say, against expectations, even the most isolated state roads in Alabama are excellent even by Massachusetts standards, and Massachusetts standards are high.
So when we saw a peach stand on a country road — we had a dilemma. My lovely wife wanted peaches. Mi mano, Gabe, who was in the car, thought she should try them. But the kids were asleep, and would surely awake if we stopped ... but we were still more than 45 minutes away from Montgomery and the BBQ place here we planned to eat lunch.
Solution: Gabe and my lovely bride would get out to buy peaches. I would drive around for ten to fifteen minutes, then return and pick them up. Problem solved!
After ten minutes, I come back from my perambulation past prosperous rural houses, in a white part of Alabama that more resembles a lower-middle-class exurb that the kind of rural poverty some might have in mind.
My wife and mi compa are wandering around the grounds of the peach stand, smiling but looking slightly forelorn; not talking to the three white woman who run the place. They get in. She looks at my mano, who looks back, and they bust out laughing. The story:
The stand was run by three white woman of various ages: likely a mother, a daughter, and a grandmother. My wife approaches them, smiling I am sure, as she does. The grandmother was in the watermelon patch to the left; the mother stayed away. So she asks the daughter, “Which one is sweeter, your peaches or the nectarines?”
“A nectarine is a hairless peach, is all.” Southern hospitality, this is not.
“Are these peaches grown in the grove back there?” my wife tries again, in the best Noo Yawk friendliness, the friendliest friendly part of this continent, as you know.
“Some of ‘em.”
At this point, I am told, ma had begun conferring with grandma in the back of the patch. My people decide to buy some peaches, and then wound up wandering pointlessly around the grass until I returned.
In the car, after my wife tells the story, mi mano chimes up. “It wasn’t Amma! It was me. It was the Mexican rapist they were afraid of.”
(Photo from Montgomery proper, or at least a part of the outskirts worthy of its own post. Mano looks like primo.)
This led to an argument over whether Mexican was the new black, conducted in a jocular tone that I have trouble conveying to white people. Seriously, it was funny! When racist white people are bothered, but either don’t try or aren’t able to exercise power, it can be amusing. (There is a deeper takeaway there that you should convey to the next person who tries to tell you that reverse racism is a thing.)
The argument went on until we passed a big white barn-like structure selling pig parts and pig meat under a big Confederate flag. There, as we drove by, we saw a white woman and a black woman engaged in an animated arm-waving discussion that certainly seemed, to our LatAm-and-Caribbean conditioned eyes, to be a customer arguing with a client.
If that could go on under the traitorious slaveowning anti-American battle flag of the evil Confederate rebels, well, then, I have to say a point for Gabe. Would my wife have gotten that sort of treatment by herself? We may never know. We did not try to re-run the experiment.
Maybe Mexican is the new black! After all, Alabama has officially made it illegal to drive while Mexican, even if you work for the Air Force.