I wanted to see The Dog again, so I called and tried to start a conversation over the phone, but we did not understand each other very well. We were both speaking English, but it sounded like two different languages, so we decided to meet the next day at the Iron Horse Grill for lunch.
We saw each other the first time at the Lyle Lovett’s concert and there was so much to talk about. First thing I asked him was about his real name. He still wouldn’t tell me, but I found out afterwards when I harassed him to give me his Facebook contact for the third time. I called him by his real name immediately and he looked at me saying “I might never answer your phone again if you’ll keep calling me George.”
The Dog recently retired from working for the Jackson Public School. He spends all his savings for food, because he likes to cook for the homeless. I never met a man like that, so generous and concerned more about other people’s lives than himself.
“If you are giving something to someone, you should give something worth having,” he said. “I give people the food that I eat.”
The Dog showed me pictures of all the delicious meals he has prepared for homeless people in the past. Asparagus covered with bacon, huge amounts of grilled meat and crunchy potatoes with lots of cheese. It looked delicious and I was sure The Dog is a great cook, so I rudely invited myself to his home for a meal sometime in the future.
Helping others probably derived from how he was raised. Dog’s mother died when he was 12, and his father was disabled. Then raised them well, taught his children how to work and how to help people.
“If you got biscuit, you ought to share it. As little as we had, we always shared everything with my siblings.”
His theory for the homeless was that they just need a little help or push to keep them off of streets. His goal is exactly that. Some of them have drug problems, but not all of them. There is this lady that comes to his cooking events, who is a really good cook, but “she just needs to be out of the hood and somebody to put her in the kitchen. Like here, in Iron Horse. I am sure she would do very well.”
We ordered food and lemonade. The Dog gave me a nick name of Margarita-no ice. That was because I did not use the amount of ice that Misssissippians do. If you have a glass of water or juice, there is almost no room for the liquid as how much ice Southerns consume. I cannot handle that, I am very European in most of my habits.
“You are like that Blond Hollywood lawyer from a movie” Dog suddenly commented. “You know the one that had a clever guy, but she was smarter than everyone.” I assumed he meant Legally Blond with Reese Witherspoon in it.
On that one, I asked him if he drinks alcohol and he answered that he stopped drinking a long time ago. I said “why’s that” and he told me the love story that happened before his wife. He was in love with this girl and on a wedding reception they mixed him bourbon, vodka and wine in the same glass. Of course he was drunk and sick as hell afterwards. Since then, he only does a little bit of champagne at the weddings or New Year’s Eve. He promised me to drink a little bit of champagne on my book signing, too. I will have some more than little on that day.
“You know, a man can get a woman just through nice talking. Conversation rules the nation” and finished the story about women with that sentence.
Dog was wearing Jackson Academy T-shirt and a hat and even though he has several injuries of hip and knees, bad hearing and a cancer survivor, he has a young heart and healthy soul. I was listening to him with eyes wide opened when he went back to history. He said back in the days, me and you would not be able to sit like this, together. There were some bad stories from back then he remembered.
“In 1974, I was spit on by a young white woman and she called me a nigger, so I pushed her physically. As a punishment, I was pulled out of school.”
So now we came to the part of his stories when I felt a mixture of compassion and anger. How can we do this to each other? How can we discriminate until the limit of humanity? That was something I could not imagine, being from the other part of the world, where people are mostly light skinned. Well, there is a physician from Ghana for who we voted for a mayor of my home town for two terms. He is still considered to be a little exotic, even though he lives in Slovenia for more then 20 years. People love him.
In our legal system, when we speak about constitutional rights and discrimination, race is not often mentioned. We discuss much more on gender and sexual orientation, so when I came to Jackson, I had quite few inappropriate comments and questions for the first few months. Especially in school.
My first “mistake” was when I braided my hair. Humidity made my hair so greasy I had to wash it every day, so I figured, if I put braids on my head it will be more practical. It was not easy to find a hair saloon that would accept the challenge, so after a detailed research on African braiding saloons in the area, I finally found one. I had to convince three hairdressers from Nigeria to do it, and it was not easy. They didn’t think braids would fit my hair and they didn’t think it would last for more then a week. Finally, three beautiful ladies at once did a great job, and we had some fun in these five hours.
Since I was a foreigner, an LLM student, no bigger consequences derived from this action at school, but there were few condescending looks and comments I will never forget.
One of the professors invited me to his office and said “We don’t find this haircut to be appropriate here. It is not considered a serious hair style.” I answered in a stern tone: “Sir, with all due respect, I am already too serious and a little bit of change-hair is just needed to make me less serious.”
It was the truth, I was older then most of the students and since law is not considered a science in the states, law schools don’t often carry PhD programs in the law field. But I had already ten years of law education and almost ten year of legal work experience. In my mind, there was no reason to prove my seriousness or professionalism to anyone.
He didn’t like the answer and he said:
“I just wish you had waited at least to get to know the professors better before doing this.” He was very disappointed, but I still think he had no reason to be.
If this happened in European law school, a big issue would be likely constituted whether the type of hair or other specifics in external appearance should even be noticed by a school professional. In Europe we are very sensitive about human rights and equality, and mostly, professors do not comment on the looks of students. It could be immediately considered as being bias. Conclusively, I really liked the braids, but I will likely not do it again. At least not in Misssissippi.
After we finished lunch, we went out of the restaurant, and continued to chat about football for another 30 minutes. Outside was hot as hell, over 90, but we didn’t care. This time the conversation went towards the “little ones”. Boys between 7 and 10, who go out on the field and fight as real men.
“They hit! They hit hard,” said The Dog, and I asked him “Do you think I can handle that?”
I don’t handle violence very well, especially not among children, because it associates me on the amount of bullying that happens in schools. But then again, Mississippi State has an official mascot called Bully and I am not sure it is just a shorter version of a Bulldog.
“Oh yes, you can handle it”, he confirmed.
We’ll see about that one.