Perspective

A Plague on Both Their Houses

Layze Ameeze de tayze ameeze sont mayze ameeze.”

A drunken redneck recited this at me late one night in 1965, at Andy’s Lounge.  Andy’s was one of Charleston’s last “blind tigers”—a speakeasy, complete with gambling and homely B-girls, that defied even the closing laws that the other scofflaw establishments observed.  I went there often to enjoy the diversity of the clientele.  The green-teethed drunk, whom I had just met, was giving me the business about being a student.  “Whatchyou studyin’ anwyway?”  I wisely did not say Greek, knowing what response that would elicit, and answered, “French.”

“I know some French,” he replied, shooting a crafty look in both directions, before delivering his well-rehearsed line, which I initially mistook for some bit of rustic mysticism, like “larroes catch medloes.”  By the time I realized what he was saying, the conversation had moved on to “You look like you a Jap or maybe a Jew, and what’s a Jew-Jap doing in Charleston, anyway?”  I was annoyed at the time, but in retrospect it seems a reasonable question.

To this day I have no idea if the French really believe that the friends of your friends are really my friends, but I certainly do not.  Nor do I subscribe to the bit of American political...

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