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On the Edge of Common Sense: Prejudice

Contributed by Baxter Black Published on 24 January 2019

Prejudice is a funny thing. When a city slicker or a dude comes meanderin’ into the Montana bar in Glasgow, he’s liable to get a lot of hard stares. But I’m here to tell ya, when the shoe’s on the other foot, it can be mighty uncomfortable.

Years ago, in Kansas City, I set out one night to find one of them down-home guitar blues pickers I had read about in the Sunday paper. I was drivin’ around Saturday night lookin’ for Walter’s Crescendo Lounge. I had some ribs at Money’s on Prospect and asked directions.

The feller told me not to go over there after dark. Then, after thinkin’ about it, he scribbled his name and phone number on a piece of paper and said, “When you git in trouble, have ’em call me.” Nice of him, I thought.

Somehow, I never found Walter’s, but at the corner of 39th and Jackson I spied Willie’s Total Experience Lounge. I recognized the name from the paper, so I went in.

I was dressed normal: hat, Levi’s and boots. The bartender was a lady named Bert. She served me a scotch and creme soda. I sat at a table in front of the band. As the clientele came in, they all sat around by the walls. Kind of like they were circlin’ me. Nobody said much, and they weren’t real friendly. Finally, the band leader, Freddy, came over to my table and asked me, “Hey man, what are you doin’ here?”

I told him I heard this was the best music in Kansas City, and I came to find out.

Well he must have thought the same thing ’cause it sure tickled him. He couldn’t do enough to make me feel at home. His sister was the waitress, and he told her to make sure my grape Nehi never went dry.

By then I wuz smarter’n a tree full o’ owls, 10 foot tall and bulletproof, as Tink would say. But I couldn’t get nobody to dance with me. Eventually, this lady named Elizabeth consented. She must have figured I wasn’t so bad after all ’cause she sat at my table and invited Louise and Wilma to join us. The four of us danced until closin’ time. It was a fine evening and, although they didn’t take to me at first, they must have decided that cowboys aren’t from outer space, just different.

I remember that little lesson when I see a kid wearin’ a headband and sandals in a cowboy bar. I always try to give ’em the benefit of the doubt. After all, he might be friskin’ customers at the door next time I make it to Willie’s Total Experience Lounge.  end mark