August 30, 2011

Seent It #1: "White Lady!"

"Seent it" is a southern phrase meaning "what I saw".  Why the vast majority of Eastern North Carolinians feel the need to add consonants onto the ends of words, I will never know, but I blame country slang for my life-long struggle with spelling.  Since moving to New York, I'vza seent a many crazeh thangs.  I'm staring a "Seent It" series, through which I will share them.

Yesterday morning was the first day at my new job.  I hopped on the 2 train, nervous as hell, and sweating profusely.  I did what I always do on the subway - stare at people and make them feel uncomfortable.  There was a middle-aged white man in a dark gray business suit with a really, really, dreadfully boring, aged leather briefcase.  I caught him looking at me intently, and before he had time to look away I started burning holes into the center of his forehead.  Be began to squirm, eventually stood up, and got off at the next stop.  I take full credit for that.

Then something amazing happened.  I heard the strumming of a horribly-tuned electric bass guitar, and the raspy, gurgling sound of a bum singing happy songs from the 1960s.  If you've ever ridden the subway in New York this is nothing to look up from your Kindle at, but it was the words he was using that caught my attention.  Imagine the following, if at all possible, which it may not be because he wasn't keeping up with the rhythm very well, to the tune of "I Got Sunshine":

Hey everybody?
How ya be?
I be goooood!
I gots a white lady sitten next to me.
Remind me of Martha Stewart.
Is you Martha Stewart? ah HAAAAAA!
Heah we go.

[Verse 1]
I's got sunshine,
on the numba 2 train.
With White Lady,
she got none the pain.

She got good job,
college educated,
computer typing skilll,
she White Lady.

Wanna see me home?
See me home White Lady?
I'll take care for ya,
make ya some Kool Aid.

At this point the train stopped and White Lady quickly transfered cars to the roaring applause of her fellow morning commuters.

"Thank ya thank ya, ladies and gents!" the maestro said.  "I takes pennies, glasses, shoes, cloaks, and Jeweish monies too."

I had to get off at the next stop and wasn't able to hear any more of his thought-provoking lyrics, but this pretty much made my day.  And, whether this gentleman meant his words to mean anything or not, they paint an interesting picture of gender, economics, and education, and how they relate to race and privilege.  There are movies and very long research papers written in this exact context.  Both of which are far more boring.

It's also strange for me to think of a poor black man with a guitar singing to a wealthy (bitch had a Chanel bag) white woman.  In North Carolina this would never happen, because the poor black man would live on one side of town, while the rich white woman would live on the other.  They may cross paths at some point, but she would be in an outside-noise-reducing car, and they would never get the chance to interact.

That's what I love about this city.  Forced human interaction = human experience = (better) human understanding.

Love it.



  1. How beautiful that you saw the whole situation in such a light! Good for you! Keep sharing...I love your stories!

  2. Thank you Sam! My eyes and ears are always open. :)

  3. That was absolutely hilarious! Gosh, how I WISH I could have heard that in person. Wow, that man gave you GOLD!

  4. That was so funny! And I agree with Samantha, awesome that you saw it in a good light!

  5. Gold indeed. I'll be making a YouTube video, giving a rendition that will be nowhere close the his original awesomeness, but nonetheless good enough to knock your socks off. And I'm now keeping my phone in camera mode at all time on the 2 train, in hopes of seeing him again.

  6. I think you already know that I adore you. This post simply reinforces that.


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