It was last Thursday night at a local townie bar, Franklin House. The area’s oldest bar has been around since the 1860’s. Creaks and warps in the establishment’s flooring gives testament to the joint’s age, but the square footage, high ceilings and circa 1900 ceiling tiles add to the spacious feel – which is a commodity for bars in the Region area. Flat panel TVs adorning the steep walls prove that well-placed technology makes anything look nostalgic.

In translation: it’s a favorite.

While listening to friends, neighbors and college students try to bellow their horrific karaoke crucifixions of Mellencamp, disco classics and pop audio retail over the thundering rush of several freight trains, our table starts to notice an unnatural buildup of suits and ties congregating in the center hall between the dueling main rooms. We start to think they’re going to have a private party in the cigar room in the back, but as we watch them get sloppy drunk and partake in some electric slide-like dance with coeds, we (“we” as in “I”) start to just pass them off as white collars and start to get a little annoyed because they’re making it increasingly difficult to do drink runs because they’re making better walls than windows.

A little more watching and we (“we” as in “I”) start to feel glad they we don’t have to wear those getups everyday. I work at a place where potential hirees get a little confused in interviews because their interviewers are often in open-toed sandals. I let the annoying feeling go and start continue to come up with new and inventive paths through the white collars to the bar, and back.

It’s on a trip to the powder room when I started to feel like an ass. As I’m standing in front of one of the urinals, I asked a couple of the white collars the reason they were all dressed up.

“Y’all just get out of a meeting?”

“Naw, man,” said the one standing next to me. “We’re hear for a buddy.”

“A wedding?” I asked.

“Nah, man,” said the white collar on the end as he’s zipping up, “The other way.”

“Oh, a divorce,” I said, surmising.

“Worse,” said the zipped-up white collar,”We lost a buddy.”

“Aw, man.” I empathized as I slinked through the doorway and back to my seat.

I told my tablemates the reason for the buildup of white collars. My table took a quick moment to reflect, then went back about their day. I, on the other hand, proceeded to watch the white collars a little further. As the buzz of the evening wore off, the white collars’ cheers started to turn to sobs and lots of consoling. I don’t have the funds at present to pay for the tabs of parties, but if I did I would have paid for that whole group. Part guilt, part penance. I raised my glass to them and toasted them instead.

Whatever metaphysics applies to the situation made sure my penance was thorough.

I dropped my supervisor back at the hotel after our evening at Franklin House. He was hungry and had me stop at White Castle on the way. I had but a couple and he had but many. Long to short, he saw me at work the next morning and said if I needed to go home because of food poisoning, he’d understand without question. I almost did, but he was in significantly more pain but couldn’t leave because of the responsibilities of the day so I felt that, not matter how bad I hurt, I was finishing my day. I went to bed at 8pm Friday night and slept hard for 14 hours.

It was this kind of perception I wrote about in Book of Blues: stereotyping without knowing all the facts. It was the same sh*t I fought against while at Denominational University. I was definately damned to reremember the lesson. I thank you, White Castle. Don’t be suprised if I don’t look to visit again any time soon.

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