Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Everybody loves Muhammad Ali.

This past weekend Tarzan, Cheetah, and I headed to The Big Easy, or Our City - per Cheetah.  Tarzan had a competition to attend and we decided to make the most of his built up Hilton points and get out of Cajun Country for a couple of days.  After spending Friday as a family and doing the zoo, Cheetah and I spent Saturday hitting the high notes.  We walked nearly 17 miles in those 2 days, exploring Our City and getting to know each other.  We asked each other hard questions and talked about subjects that make parents uneasy.  We talked about drugs, homelessness, love, statues, and violence.  It seemed that around every corner was another verbal mile marker:  a moment to teach him how the world works; a moment to stop and hug; a moment to reflect in a parent's loss for words.

After lunch and a power nap we rode the riverside trolley to the end of the line with the intention of walking back to the hotel, after grabbing a bite to eat.  We were discussing all the statues we had seen that day and what made each person worthy of becoming a permanent part of the New Orleans scenery.  We discussed Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and Joan of Arc.  At this point in the conversation I noticed that a large rambunctious group of young men, that were celebrating, had been walking ahead of us for more than 5 blocks.  I discerned that though they were partying and their conversation was being carried well beyond our ears, their language was noticeably censored.  I was impressed that such spirited men could be aware of young, impressionable ears.

As we got closer to CafĂ© Du Monde, Cheetah began discussing the statues of Louis Armstrong and Antione “Fats” Domino, "Mom I have a question that is hard and I don't think you will have an answer.  Why are there not more statues of black people, why are there only statues of musicians?  Lots of black people have done great things."  A bit leery of how to answer his inquiry I carefully began constructing my answer.  "Dude that is a really good question and you're right, I don't really have an answer.  It doesn't make sense."  I realized that while I was answering Cheetah, the young men had grown silent and were mouthing things to each other and began glancing back towards us.  “I mean what about Martin Luther King, Jr or Muhammad Ali?”  He added, “Everyone loves Muhammad Ali.”

Before I knew it, we had physically collided with the group of young men.  They had all turned around to face us and were smiling.  One guy grabbed The Boy's arm and asked if he could shake his hand, confused he obliged and took his hand.  Another young man then hugged me and said he was really touched by my honest answers and frank conversation that I was having with my son.  With watery eyes he turned to his friends and said, "I am speechless."  They all nodded and added their pieces of praise to my loving son, gave him high fives, and we all voiced our good wishes.  They headed towards Bourbon Street while we kept moving towards our hotel.

Cheetah smiled and said, “See Mom, everyone loves Muhammad Ali.”

Laughing, I hugged him tightly.  “I believe you’re right,” I said.