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Al and Caroline Go to Harlem

19 December, 2008

Al and Caroline decided to go to Harlem. Al had a craving for greens and grits which a hobo had let him taste one day on the way to school.  Their dad, Barak, (mom said to call him Mr. President) didn’t discourage Al about the greens because Al was really adopted and dad knew the yen for soul-food was in his blood.  Down in Harlem, Al had found a few good places to get smoked ham and chittlins.  He wanted his spoiled but beloved sister, Caroline, to try them, too.

When Al found  pretty blond  Caroline, coming out of elocution class, he explained about the soul-food place, which she had never heard of, and how baked chicken and greens (without the fatback) wouldn’t make her  fat.  So she readily agreed to the adventure.

Caroline was the class eraser monitor and teacher’s pet but dad had made her believe in herself.  Because of his encouragement she realized she wanted to be a student-body president one day, maybe even president, like dad.  Al reminded her that a lot of kids in other grades were brown like him and would think she was “cool” if such a pretty, rich white girl got “down” with them.  In fact, if Caroline made friends with the poor brown kids, they would beat up the other kids who might taunt her about being rich.

On the way to the restaurant, Caroline stopped and bit her lip.  “Wasn’t there some old witch white girl that used to eat in Harlem?  Wasn’t she the one with the thick ankles and ugly pantsuits?  She hadn’t been to elocution class, at least Caroline didn’t remember her.

“That’s right,” said Al, “but dad said said she’s a b*tch so we should forget about her.”

When Caroline entered the restaurant everyone stopped eating and stared at her with her pretty dress and golden locks.  She was glad dad hadn’t driven them down the hill to the restaurant in the limousine.  Then, Al came in and took her hand and everyone went back to eating because they knew Al was the neighborhood cut-up and not just the adopted son of Mr. President.

When Caroline saw what was on her plate she almost gagged.  Yee gads!  Al knew she didn’t eat ANYTHING smoked except haddock and caviar.  What was he thinking?!  She asked for for cold milk to wash it down, and in a clean glass, please. She now understood why, unlike herself and mom and dad, Al had a big stomach and conked hair.  Al seemed to be enjoying the food and the company so she gamely picked around the edges of the plate.  After all, her brother had their best interests at heart and dad trusted him (sometimes).  She didn’t see any of daddy’s friends from the museum board.

When they made it outside again, all the brown kids were around her staring.  Al stepped forward and put his arm around her shoulder.  “This here’s my baby adopted sister.  She’s really smart and not a tattletale.  If you’re nice to her she will play with you and say good things about you to her daddy.”  A few of Al’s friends in the front of the crowd started chanting “Caroline, Caroline” but a few of the ruffians in the back were grumbling, calling her “princess” and “precious” in a snide way.  Al balled up his fists at them and they quieted down.

What will happen now in pretty Caroline’s quest for authenticity and the presidency?  Stay tuned.

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