Uncle George pulled his black Dodge sedan into the garage, just like he did every other night. He closed the garage door and unlocked the side door to the house. Beauty was waiting patiently for him to arrive home, in the kitchen, right where she belonged. He walked to the front door and she walked out to the street and relieved herself in the gutter. When she was done she scratched at the front door and he let her back in.
He called her a good girl, scratched her between the ears, and gave her a treat. He got a glass baking dish out and put some of the leftover casserole from the weekend in the oven. His son and daughter-in-law had been over and they had left him a huge dish. He made himself a highball while his food heated and went through the days mail. He wrote a check for the telephone bill and put it on the shelf next to the back door. He would remember to take it and mail it on the way to work the next day.
Then he went to his bedroom and changed, Beauty curling up next to the bed. They both went back to the kitchen and he took the dish out and gave a little bit to Beauty and took the rest into the living room. Beauty waited on a throw rug just outside the room. She wasn’t allowed to walk on the carpet in the living room.
He didn’t watch much TV but there were no scout troop meetings on Tuesdays so he had taken to watching All in The Family. George was a working man that lived in a modest house in Queens. Archie Bunker was a working man that lived in a modest house in Queens. Archie Bunker was afraid of anyone different. Archie was a racist. Uncle George was a was a lot like Archie.
As he watched the show, week after week, he went from sympathizing with Archie and all his perceived injustices, to understanding that when they made fun of Archie, they were making fun of him. Nevertheless, he watched it, and he laughed. George never said anything about the show, but no one likes being made fun of. I like to thing it stung. Not to be mean, but because if it stung it meant that he was getting the point.
One day, George did something extraordinary…at least for George. On a Saturday afternoon he flagged down the African American postman that served his street. He probably had to do some arm twisting but before long George and the postman had repaired to the basement where George had built a small bar. I am not sure what they talked about, but they became, if not fast friends, friendly. They would chat and I think he had him in for drinks a few other times.
George wouldn’t shut up about it.
I am not saying Uncle George became a burning ally or anything, but something had landed on him. He passed away soon after all this happened, but maybe he died a slightly better person than he would have otherwise.
Just because someone held a mirror up and he didn’t like what he saw.
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