Monday, June 22, 2009

Still crazy after all these years

He was about my age, maybe a little younger. Standing in the elevator, he came up to my husband's shoulder so he wasn't a big guy. Still, his face clearly displayed the displeasure he was feeling.

It was another Tropicana Casino "event," a beach party indoors (another rain casualty) and a drawing for one grand prize of several thousand dollars. Attendees all received one entry, deposited them in a revolving drum and then went about the merrymaking. Our host was dispensing popcorn while around the ballroom various stations handed out other beach party goodies.

Howard and I didn't stay too long and ended up on the floor playing one of our favorite joker poker machines.

We promptly forgot about the drawing at 6 p.m., but as we got on the elevator to go to the players' club on the 20th floor for dinner, we asked the gentleman if he knew who had won. Naturally, this one time we'd failed to show up, our ticket would have been picked. We were sure of that.

But our usual luck (or lack thereof) held and he informed us of the winner's name. She was also a Smith but no one we knew. Then he said the following:

"If that drawing had been held in the '50s, she wouldn't even have had an entry."

I asked if he meant she was so young she hadn't been born yet. You see, I didn't get it at first, but he made sure his point was clear.

"Nowadays it's different than it was. They wouldn't even show their faces back then; now they think they run everything."

"I don't understand what you're saying," I said, as I felt Howard drawing himself to his full height in preparation for a nasty comeback. I was still hoping to be wrong about the man's meaning.

"I don't have to make it any clearer," he said. "You know who got elected."

Before Howard could react, the door opened and, as we stepped out, I looked at the pathetic rascist and said, "We don't think that way. Besides, we voted for our president."

Not giving him time to react, we proceeded on into the club and didn't see him again.

Now I know there are people out there who still nurse the old hatreds. I'm not naive enough to believe we've made complete national progress.

But it simply amazed me that this particular bigot would voice his animosity and hatred to total strangers. I suppose he didn't care if we were offended, but he did risk bodily harm had not the elevator doors swung open. Okay, maybe not bodily harm, but a good tongue lashing was certainly on its way.

Did he assume because of our ages we would agree with him? Did he assume we, too, had learned nothing over the course of the decades since the '50s? Did he simply not care who witnessed his bigoted ridicule? We couldn't decide what prompted him to vent the way he did except to chalk it up to total ignorance.

Regardless, we were saddened that our paths had crossed and very glad his name wasn't the one called as the grand prize winner!