Bit of Ethnic Wisdom
was taking a bus trip alone in December 1967, across half of America.
A college junior, I had finished first semester exams earlier
in the day. The trip to Asheville, North Carolina, where I would
meet my boyfriend to continue by car, was one thousand miles.
The bus portion alone would take over twenty-four hours.
after I had eaten an early supper, my parents drove me to the
station, leaving me with only a vague idea of the route and three
bus changes to manage. I brought a few snacks along and shared
oranges with a young woman I met on my first leg of the journey.
I then tried sleeping with little success.
caught a second bus and continued my trip, reading after the sun
came up. As my journey continued, busses were filled with more
and more soldiers in uniform, going home on Christmas leave. I
met a soldier named Clay, who offered to French kiss. I declined.
I must digress, letting you know I came from Joplin, Missouri,
a conservative Midwestern town of just over 38,000 people.
do I say, I lived a sheltered life?
boarded my third bus in Nashville along with three other women,
two nuns and a heavy-set black woman. The rest of the passengers
were men. The nuns sat together, and I satquite safely nowwith
the black woman.
we struck up a conversation, the woman inquired as to where I
was going. When I told her North Carolina to spend the holidays
with my boyfriend and his family, she rolled her eyes til
I saw only their whites.
now comes the part that I quote to this day.
careful, she warned me, speaking from experience, I guess.
Watch out for that boyfriend. Be careful. Mens is mean!
a bit of ethnic wisdom that still makes us laugh.
Losse is a poet, freelance writer, and Poetry Co-Editor of
The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Her recent
poetry publications include Domicile, Mastodon Dentist,
Right Hand Pointing, Blue Fifth Review, Southern
Hum, Adagio Verse Quarterly and forthcoming in Subtle
Tea and The Blueprint: An Assemblage of the Fifth Element.
She has a chapbook, Gathering the Broken Pieces, available
from FootHills Publishing. Educated at Missouri Southern State
and Wake Forest Universities, she lives in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina, where she writes about race relations and occasionally
book reviews for the Winston-Salem Journal.