Leroy rolls over, brushes my hand as he did the day I first
saw him. He wakes me. Snoring, dreaming, he puts his arm
around me. He touched me. I married him. Half conscious,
opening an eye, I look at him and drift back to sleep,
dreaming of us.
My college roommate, Mary and I on our first paid campaign:
buttons, yard signs and hats, we are going to change the
The congressman has this wonderful speech. He repeats it at
every stop, every rally and every picnic for the next three
months. He says it with a promising smile. Everything is
promising, wonderful, exciting.
Leroy is experienced, a third-year law student and a veteran
In line behind me at the cafeteria, brushing my hand,
reaching for the potato salad, he touches me. Electricity.
He materializes. I see him. I have thoughts about him, look
and smile at him. He smiles back.
Joining Mary at our table, I say, “I don’t remember seeing
Mary says, “They’re invisible.”
“Invisible,” I say.
She says, “Invisible people, they wait tables, pick and grow
food. They support light poles and door frames in their part
of town---we don’t see them. They’re invisible.”
I say, “He’s not invisible. He’s a graduate student, not a
waiter, doorman or servant. He’s one of us, a party
I nibble a bite of my potato salad; four tables away, Leroy
nibbles his. He didn’t take any meat. Is he a vegetarian?
He’s a vegetarian!
Mary says, “He’s not one of us, Sarah. He’s one of them!”
I say, “He’s one of us! And he doesn’t eat meat. I don’t eat
He’s cute. Cute doesn’t define him. He is handsome: tall,
dark and handsome.
Mary agrees with the dark part.
“They don’t look handsome to me. I like white meat,” she
Mary, being a carnivore, is picky about meat.
I, being a vegetarian, don’t want to eat him---maybe a
little lip nibbling. Lip nibbling would be nice.
She says, “Sarah, you don’t like him! Do you know what
getting involved with one of them can mean?”
“He’s not a meat eater, Mary. He’s a vegetarian!”
She says, “What if you begin to think of him as something
more than cute? What happens if you think of him as
something more than handsome? What happens if you fall in
love with him?”
I think of him kissing me, broad lips smothering mine.
“Are you listening to me, Sarah?”
“Yes, you said what happens if I fall in love with him.”
She says, “Well?”
“It could happen.”
“With a black man!”
“Yes, with a black man, a vegetarian black man.”
Mary says, “That’s dangerous talk! You don’t want to fall in
love with a black man. People kill black men who fall in
love with white women---sometimes the white woman, too.”
“That was a long time ago,” I say.
“You take a back road sitting beside him in the wrong
county, Sarah. See what happens.”
“It could happen with a white man, Mary. Do you think it
would be any safer with Saul in his Volkswagen bus?”
“It’s not the same, Sarah, and you know it. People can’t
tell a Jew from a Greek without asking.”
I imagine him kissing me again.
“Seriously, I like him,” I say.
“Seriously, I think you’re crazy!”
“You’re old enough to know the way the world works. A white
girl can be a trophy to a black man, but can he take her
home? Can you go to Harlem and meet his Momma and Daddy? Can
you take him home to meet yours?”
Are his parents vegetarian? If they are not my Mother would
be cool about it, but my Dad?
“I hadn’t thought about that.”
I think about him kissing me again. We will work our way
through it, our parents and all. Even if they eat meat,
everything will be all right. We’ll be vegetarian.
I say, “I understand the way it was, Mary, but---”
“No buts about it. OK, right now you can date him, marry him
if you want, but do you know what the future holds?”
Mary says, “You took sociology. Humans are tribal. Good
times, like now, we tolerate differences. Times get hard.
Food gets scarce. People become tribal and favor their own.
They will be eating the pork roast, and you will be eating
Yuck, chitterlings, I don’t think they even make vegetarian
chitterlings. I say, “I think we’re past all that, judging
by color, and pork roast and chitterlings are the same
“Really, you go on thinking that. What about children?”
“I’m thinking about his lips right now.”
She says, “Think about children.”
I say, “Good point. Prejudice will continue until we can
marry and have children with people outside our tribe,
outside our race. Eighty percent of Greeks marry non-Greeks
in America. Is anyone prejudiced against Greeks?”
Mary says, “Turks, and he’s not Greek!”
“He’s American. Leroy’s great, great grandfather was
President of the Confederate States of America.”
“A legitimate grandfather?”
“A proven one.”
She says, “What if you love him, marry him and have his
“Time off work, breast feeding and changing diapers. Would
it be different with a white man?”
Mary says, “The baby would be different. He wouldn’t be
white. Half black is black. Do you want your baby waiting
tables, picking cotton and eating chitterlings?”
I say, “Our daughter will be President of the United States,
and she won’t eat pork!”
Thursday, the next day, we walk precincts, Leroy walks one;
I walk another. Finishing early I go back to headquarters to
make phone calls. He makes phone calls. I talk to
voters---and listen to him…
He’s nibbling my lips!
Leroy says, “Honey, wake up. We’ve got to go vote.”
Our daughter’s first time on the ballot, we can’t be late.