For Mark and Dennis Sims, and everyone at Procare, to be introduced to tell a story that I think the most important tale I shall ever write, and the funniest. Dennis is on to something as to a reality show, if the main focus is about the fluid, if imperfectly so, character of identities in class broadly considered and ethnicity, and how that allows for cooperation even in situations of high stress, if it is also a source of a certain amount of conflict too, if a very manageable one. People at Procare held together in a way Kentucky Fried found very inspiring, as shall gradually be revealed below.
"Negro, youd didn't say you were sending the Wolf." Pulp Fiction.
It ain't exactly An Officer and a Gentleman, but then he wasn't just any professor, but The Kentucky Fried Professor.
So, it kind of made sense in some weird way that the Kentucky Fried Professor would become a landscaper in Atlanta, working with Rednecks, Migos, and inner city Negroes.
The Rednecks didn't like the idea of being called gringos, although it rhymes with Migos, which of course rhymes with Negroes, the latter often actually a term of endearment among black people in the inner cities. To Kentucky Fried, it was always Migos, Gringos, and Negroes, if the whole experience was and is really eye-opening as to such the wide variety of identity in class and a whole bunch of other stuff in those three labels, and that's all they really are, if they are real too, the paradox.
Da White Folks usually only get to hear word Negro if they're dark enough, like Kentucky Fried became in the Atlanta sun this summer.
That caused some interesting issues as to the following question:
'Who the hell is the Kentucky Fried Professor? He almost looks like a Migo, and even Aaron said if he kept getting more tan, he'd be as dark as him, and he's a Negro, not a Migo. And then Kentucky Fried started to actually like country music, making him think "Has Kentucky Fried finally flipped his lid, and managed to become a Migo, Negro and Redneck all at once? Why is Kentucky Fried having an urge to shave his head and get Old English lettering tats, and why is he speaking Spanish when it's not even particularly functional as to setting? Why is he yelling like Cleveland from Guatamala when he sees Latinos with backpack blowers, "Yo, Migo!?"
An Ecuadoran of European descent and appearance he ran into kidded him about a month into another strange journey of the Kentucky Fried Professor, saying "Nice tan you got there."
Kentucky Fried had to accept as part of that journey into a different class and racial identity that some white people wouldn't ever see him quite the same, and he sure wouldn't be the same, but then every re-invention means a death too.
Many days, while Kentucky Fried was driving around Atlanta in a huge box truck listening to mariachi music and only hearing Spanish spoken, for twelve hours a day, Kentucky Fried was wondering:
"What the hell is the Kentucky Fried Professor doing here? What pray tell has happened to the Kentucky Fried Professor?"
And that was the answer, the people of Procare that he worked with were why he stayed, if he had to earn that by working really hard in dirty physical if also very satisifying at times work, people whom he really came to appreciate each he hoped on their own terms, if because of the diversity of their backgrounds, a mirror of most of America save for the very top and very bottom, that was and is a complicated thing.
And therein lies a tale of identity of class and race and memory in the modern South that Kentucky Fried found very comforting, as to a vision of American interconnectedness, if with differences of course too.
Like Dennis said, the Office People ain't the same as the Outside People, if they need each other too.
Interconnectedness amid difference is what makes America and really everywhere what it is, complicated, strange, funny, sad, cruel, and hopeful too.
In the end, the fact that an overeducated at JHU formerly spoiled white punk from the wealthiest suburb in Alabama, Mtn. Brook, could work six days a week for twelve hours a day for months on end with rednecks of lots of nuances, hippy included, and inner city black guys, and tons of immigrants from Latin America on an apartment complex called Parkside, and even more as a crew leader on a whole bunch of other really cool Connor Group properties, working always as parts of teams, and usually on common goals, well, Kentucky Fried found that deeply moving as to a future evolving in the United States that is a beautiful if complex one.
Kentucky Fried will always take pride in being a crew leader, as to life lessons learned and being learned, me, Honduras Lee, Quiet but Playful Pedro, and Cleveland were as Lee said, como tigres one day, a downpour all day long, in which being a Migo meant nothing more than working as hard as possible all day long to make things look right again, if that's always a barely winning battle with Mother Nature.
The work itself, with the right attitude, would often enough induce the Zen state of being and non-being that's when we do the best work, if many other times of course, it was more like being a prisoner of war on a forced labor project, but, that's the nature of some kinds of work too, lots of love and hate wound together.
It also has a certain lunatic humor to that as well, like going to check cashing places with Indian Muslims, crazed apartment complex managers, really sweet complex managers, really pretty managers, well, none of them are ugly, and ..let's see, equipment issues, owners on the verge of a nervous breakdown, banks making threatening phone calls and letters, uh, sibling rivalry, the question of the Mexican-Latino "Mafia" in certain work situations, the whole episode with Adam and the truck at the Chick-FilA, and Kentucky Fried's favorite, the Mirror of God story.
Part One of Seven