I’ll tell you about a conversation I witnessed during my five-state, two-week summer ramble and you tell me where it took place.
Eight fun-loving people are drinking beer and eating sliders in a shack in the woods, when one of them, who happens to be a guard at a nearby super-max prison, remarks that, watching The Today Show one recent morning, he saw a clip of a white police officer punching a black woman in the face.
“I loved it,” he said, before getting technical on us. “I considered it a ‘distraction technique.’”
Another guy—the strapping builder-plumber who built the shack—piped up, “Yeah, and of course Al Sharpton had to get involved.”
To his left sat half of an understood-but-unacknowledged lesbian couple. I’d asked her earlier about the political bent of this region. She had looked at me as if I had shat in the charcoal.
Now she weighed in on the question of the hour.
“Who’s Al Sharpton?”
The shack spinning around me at this point, I don’t remember what the builder said, except that it had the word “nigger” in it. (Not to give everything away here, but this population’s hatred of black people is about as sane as polar bears’ resentment of those good-for-nothing Kualas; and, I suppose, as relevant.)
“Knock it off, D—,” said the other lesbian, harshly.
“Why?” asked the builder, feigning innocence.
“Just knock it off, right now.”
And he did, and with that the incident was forgotten and the party went merrily on, and it occurred to me that there’s probably only one place in the world where this precise conversation could have happened.
The question is, What place?
A free pasty to the first readers who backs up a guess with his or her own anecdote about the region.