Monday, October 13, 2008
gems in a library--sombrero & folklore
So, the public library called me back to do more temporary LA work. This time, it's in the biggest library in our city. I even found my high school yearbook in the archives/geneology section. I was part of the Spanish foreign language club for 4 years--though I must have been absent when they took the picture because I'm not in it for my senior year. I was probably at home with my daughter. I still can't believe I made my mother a grandmother when she was only a mere 32--she's my hero. There is one picture of me in a different yearbook wearing a huge sombrero in the 9th grade. Those were my second days of learning Spanish. I actually started in 7th and 8th grade. It was so strange seeing a snapshot of this time of my life.
In any event, at the library, I am off the reference desk at certain times and am able to walk around--shelf read, help patrons, familiarize myself with different sections and so on. Yesterday, Sunday, I checked out materials ranging from cookbooks to fiction: Nigella Bites to Carol Goodman's The Night Villa (picked it because of the cover and the first three lines, "When the first call came that morning I was with a student, so I didn't answer it. 'Don't worry,' I told Agnes Hancock, one of most promising classics majors, 'the machine will get it'." Don't know why I am so easily hooked for characters who are professors and their lives as such in fiction. We'll see if it's worth the random choice.
I walked around to other sections and found a folklore section. We have folklore for just about every culture one can imagine. I spent about 15 minutes browsing this area, looking for nothing in particular. What I did find however was a fascinating literature on African-American Folklore (could have used it two weeks ago when several of my students were writing essays on Baby in a Crib and Lyrics of a Lowly Life. Their anthologies seem rather limited in this genre. Don't know why. Anyhoo, it's not a secret that I have this extraordinary love-hate, win-lose relationship with my hair, its !at-times! power over me, its moodiness, its essential part of my being, its need to dominate my appearance, its stubborn nature, its need to kank--so when I read this folklore published in Dance's anthology, I felt compelled to share:
Why the Black Man's Hair Is Nappy
All right now, we going to our races; we going to find out where the Black people got their hair from and how they got it. When it was time for the Lord to give hair, He called all three of these men, and this is what he said. Well, first he called the white man to come on and get his hair. All right, the white man he went right on up there and got his hair. So the Lord called the Jew man to get his hair. So the Jew man went up there and got his hair, and said, "Thank you, Lord."
So when it got down to the Black man, the Lord called him. And do you know what the Black man said? Black man said, "Lord, ball it up and throw it to me." And it's been balled up ever since.