Yesterday, my new church, Zion First Black Baptist Church of Middletown, did its Second Annual Road-Trip to Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands of northern New Jersey. To say the least, it was a Magical Mystery Tour and a most enriching experience.
Our chartered tour bus was full of my fellow Zion parishioners and a few non-church guests. We left Middletown promptly at 10 a.m. Our driver, Joseph, lives in Torrington, CT, but is from Haiti. He speaks fluent French, of course, and, of course, I spent as much time talking French with him at our little picnic in the stadium parking lot and practicing some of my stand-up routines on him, which he liked.
After a slight detour because of a wrong turn on the Jersey Turnpike, we made it to the stadium at about 12:30 p.m. That gave us three hours to hang out until the game began between Howard University and Morgan State, two black colleges which participate in the 40th Annual New York Urban League black-college football fall classic, or whatever the actual name on the big screens in the stadium said.
The stadium parking lot is, of course, vast, but it was relatively empty when we first arrived. After the hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs, and other food were eaten, I began to hear music from DJ's across the parking lot, in the direction of the stadium. The buses are of course required to park in a more remote section of the lot from where Vendor's Row is set up, and from where the Party Broadway Walkway is located. I call it that because I couldn't believe the transformation which occurred in that area between the time we arrived and the time the game began three hours later. Suffice it to say, though I've never been to New Orleans at Mardi Gras, I suspect the Party Broadway Walkway yesterday was something on the order of what goes on down in the Bayou on Fat Tuesday. Lot's of bogey-ing and party-ing. Praise the Lord!
My fellow parishioners have seen me swaying and dancing and bogey-ing with Jesu in the pews on Sunday mornings, and they've heard me talk about going to the Mezzo and other dance spots several times a week. But, until yesterday, they really ain't seen nothin'!
It began when I heard music in the distance, a primal beat my body just can't ignore anymore, whenever and wherever I hear it, no matter who I'm with, no matter the circumstances. A couple days ago, I was getting my oil changed at the Jiffy Lube on Washington Street in Middletown, met a woman in the adjacent care named Monica from Germany, who does IT in the states, and told her about my dancing. She wasn't sure about what I was saying, so I turned on the I-pod in my car, cranked up the volume, opened the door, ignored the Jiffy Lube guy who ordered me to put the keys on the dash, "for insurance reasons," and just started DANCING. Pretty quickly the Jiffy Lube guys were getting a big kick out of watching the Crazy Dancing Dude strut his stuff that they went from all frowns to all smiles. Back to New Jersey.
So the people from my church start walking to the stadium, which is about a half-a-mile away from the bus section. I started to worry that maybe our bus got relegated to the back part of the gigantic parking lot because except for me everybody on our bus was a black person. But then I realized that EVERYBODY in the freakin' parking lot was black. I, your faithful correspondent, was THE ONLY WHITE GUY IN ALL OF NORTH NEW JERSEY based on what I was seeing and hearing on Party Broadway Walkway!
For a half-mile, from where we were parked, to the main entrance of the stadium, there were tons of Block Parties goin' on, all of them with their own DJ. The first one I came to was cordoned off with that yellow Crime Scene Investigation--Keep Out tape, strung between chairs and the stage. This party was a black fraternity or sorority from Howard or Morgan State and naturally, not having been invited in any way, I just danced over the tape and started dancing. This went on for 10 minutes, during which time I danced with a bunch of black women, of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and a black dude was very happy to show a Dancing-Challenged White Guy all the RIGHT moves. Eventually, the spell broke when some other very unhappy, White-like Up-tight Black Guy came over to me and reminded me this was "A Private party," at which point, rather than getting myself beat-up, I jumped over the yellow crime scene tape and high-tailed it to the next party. I was also afraid that if stayed any longer, this guy was going to assault or murder me, and then the yellow crime scene tape would already be in place until the State Police and the CSI guys arrived to collect the forensic evidence of my untimely, and most tragic, death. (Be honest, people. How many of you relish that scene, of some big tough-looking, but really having-a-heart-of-gold, black guy beating the stuffing out of me?! Come on now. Be HONEST.
This scenario repeated itself, or, shall I say more accurately, I didn't let the guy who evicted me from the frat-house party stop me from crashing every other party down the line to the stadium. I had a blast dancing from party to party, and at each stop thereafter, the signals all were there: yo', dude, you're more than welcome to stay as long as you want to dance with our women and learn our moves. It was always the men who sent me these signals, as if by mental telepathy, and not the women, who tended mostly to be ice queens, especially the younger they were, and less chilly the older they got. By "older" I mean over about 22.
By the way, Susie IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BLUE-EYED, BLONDE WOMAN I'VE EVER MET, hands down, bar none. That being said, if she ever can't stand looking at my face, listening to me trying to be funny, and smelling my breath any longer, and dumps me, I sure would consider entertaining, if not acting on, the idea of, shall we say, becoming, at best, Platonic Friends with ALL THOSE INCREDIBLY HOT BLACK WOMEN.
And then, a few of us Zion Black Church members left the game early, since it was clear Morgan State was gonna' keep on whippin' the rear off Howard 'til the bitter end. On the way back, I again had a WONDERFUL time getting confirmation that all the dancing I've been doing at the clubs in Middletown, CT transfers to the New York dance scene, just like that "if the glove don't fit, you must acquit" infamous verbal formation put by Johnnie Cochran put it, brilliantly, but conversely, in the OJ Simpson criminal trial.
Deacon Bob Bailey of Zion had his camera with him yesterday. Bob and his lovely wife, Bea, saw me dancing at one of the parties near the stadium and took some pictures of me dancing with the black Goddesses. Once I get the pictures from Bob, I'll post them on Bob's blog.
I was "waylaid," with the emphasis, please, on the "way" and in no way on the "laid," at many other parties in the darkness on the way back to the Zion bus. Many of the young men and women were filming my dance performances on their I-phones, and they were taking still photos of me surrounded by small seas of beautiful Ebony humanity, but I'll never be able to get those photographic records, unfortunately, life being short and all. But I think by now you get the picture.
The bus pulled into James Moses Drive, next to Zion First Black Baptist in Middletown at 10:15 p.m. After helping to unload the bus of church tables and the like, I dropped Hosea off at his apartment, since he does not have a car, went home, took a quick shower, made sure Russell the cat had food and water, changed my white Aruba with Caribbean-vacation-logo-on-it tee-shirt into my dark-blue Cal tee-shirt, and headed down to the Mezzo patio. There, it was a beautiful, warm night, so the back patio was packed with several hundred young people on-lookers. Nick Frattiani was singing. I danced out there for the crowd, performed, really, from 10:50 p.m. and then headed up to the disco at midnight, where I danced the rest of the night away, until the 2 p.m. end of the Saturday night disco session.