Reflections On The Other White Meat: Dad’s Pork Stories And Becoming What You Eat

“I want to eat some of those HOG MAWS! I want to eat some of those PIG FEET!”

An Introduction To Pork: The Other White Meat

The genus and species for the pig whose meat ends up on our dinner tables is “Sus Linnaeus”. As a scientist, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to add the scientific name of the pig to the opening of this piece. It’s classified as an “Omnivore” which means it eats both animal and plant matter itself. The meat I referred to in the opening sentence is the “other white meat”, pork. I’ve actually never considered pork to be in the company of poultry, but a commercial from earlier this century described it as such. Throughout my life, the other white meat has stirred numerous emotions in those around me and has frequently been a discussion piece. With Thanksgiving 2021 approaching, it will likewise serve as the basis for this humorous reflection/story.

Pork In Children’s Media

“Th-Th-The…..Th-Th-The….THAT’S ALL FOLKS!” Before I get into the meat and potatoes of this piece, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the celebration of pork in pop culture. Perhaps the most famous cartoon pig is none other than “Porky Pig” from Warner Brothers “Looney Tunes” gang. Porky’s iconic ending for the cartoons featuring the famous cast of characters came to mind as I was close to preparing this piece for publishing.

There’s also “Ms. Piggy” from The Muppet Show and the “Pigs In Space” skit. “Piglet” was also one of “Winnie the Pooh’s” sidekicks. There was also the popular children’s story Charlotte’s Web about a pig which was eventually going to be used for a meal and a spider it befriended.

Perhaps my most memorable pig caricature didn’t come from TV though. It came on a summer visit to Atlanta, GA. My eldest cousin and an auntie had one of their many legendary dust ups while a bunch of us stepped out. When we returned to the house there was a picture of a cartoon pig in a colorful plaid shirt covering up a hole in the dry wall. Whatever the conflict was, my cousin unleashed her frustrations there. Ahhhhh family.

Pork In The Movies

“My God. You killed a fucking pig!” In one of my favorite movies of all time, the original Predator movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dutch Schafer, a pig became the topic of discussion. Late at night while trying to trap the alien predator hunting them down, a wild boar sprung one of the traps created by Dutch’s gradually shrinking elite special missions team. “Poncho” played by Richard Chavez observes that “Mack” played by Bill Duke has bludgeoned and killed the wild boar, instead of the alien he has become obsessed with.

Breathing heavily Mack returns a f-bomb to Poncho as “Billy” played by Sonny Lanham bellows out his characteristic laugh. The pig in this movie was more of a supporting character if you will, but there are also movies where the animal was featured in the title. Two examples are Wild Hogs starring John Travolta and Ray Liotta. There’s also silly early 1980s film Porky’s.

“We have some tomatoes, sausage and nice CRISPY bacon!” This classic line is from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie. In this iconic scene, the four Hobbit protagonists camped out at “Weathertop”. They were in the early stages of the quest to destroy the one ring. Frodo played by Elijah Wood wakes up to see Merry played by Dominic Monaghan (quoted), Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Sam (Sean Astin) preparing a hearty snack which unfortunately alerts the Nazgul (the Ring Wraiths) to their presence.

“I want to eat some of those HOG MAWS! I want to eat some of those PIG FEET!” This final iconic movie scene that I’ll cite comes from Ice Cube’s classic comedy, Friday. In this early scene in the movie, Craig (Ice Cube) is in the refrigerator foraging for food. Mr. Jones played by the late John Witherspoon, finds Craig and mischievously chastises his son for eating up all the food and for losing his job.

Hail The Hogs And Hog Heaven

This may all sound absurd to you as the reader, but pork has also been celebrated in the sports world. During the former Washington Redskins championship run under Head Coach Joe Gibbs, their offensive line was nicknamed “The Hogs”. They were large and imposing and ‘hogged’ the line of scrimmage to the benefit of their many great running backs. While many people lamented the Native American symbolism, many passionate Redskins fans also wore pig snouts in the stands to show their support for their beloved franchise.

Finally, the University of Arkansas-Fayettville’s sole national championship on the basketball court was nicknamed “Hog Heaven” by Sports Illustrated. The school mascot for Coach Nolan Richardon’s Arkansas basketball team was the “Razorback” which is basically once again a wild boar. An avid college basketball fan at the time, that was a memorable championship for numerous reasons. One of the biggest was President Bill Clinton, an Arkansas native and his wife Hillary attended the national championship game. Okay now I’ll get on with the main discussion of this piece which involves pork as a food.

Our Early Diet And Proteins

Mom, who cooked for us most of the time, never prepared or served pork to my brother and me when we were growing up. That said, we could have it on occasion, particularly on our pizza (pepperoni) on Friday nights. Those Friday nights in Buffalo, which I have fond memories of, were our designated eating out nights where the cuisine was either Burger King, Chinese food or pizza and wings.

For those of you who don’t know, one of Buffalo’s signature cuisines is pizza and wings. You can get them on pretty much any of the main arteries of the city. My brother and I readily ordered pepperoni on our pizza and it’s still something I order on my pizza these days, along with mushrooms.

If you ever go to Buffalo, by the way, you must get the pizza and wings with blue cheese. Most any restaurant will do, but some of the bigger pizza restaurants are the Anchor Bar, Bocce’s, La Nova’s, Leonardi’s and Santora’s. There are also lesser-known pizzerias like Avenue Pizza and Just Pizza. You know you’ve got the real thing when the pepperoni slices curl up into little cups with oil pooled in the middle. Seriously.

Oh. One more Buffalo/Western New York-related treat you absolutely must try if you haven’t, is the “Sahlen’s” hotdogs which are made with pork and beef. I have wonderful childhood memories of consuming the long and flavorful hotdogs at church picnics and barbecues. When grilled over coals, the casings develop a signature ‘crunch’ when you bite into them. Many Buffalonians fiend for the Sahlen’s hotdogs when they move away and even order them for consumption at their current home.

My family had beef more readily when we ate out, but our proteins at home consisted mostly of fish and poultry. Though you might not expect it, Buffalo also has its share of steak shops similar to those found in Philadelphia. The “City of Brotherly Love” is known for its cheese steaks, and we also have them in Buffalo.

A Porkless Diet

Some of you may be wondering how one could grow up not eating pork chops, pork ribs, pork bacon or “souse“, but it is entirely possible. For those who don’t know what souse is, it’s pickled, specially seasoned chopped pork parts (ears, for example) held together in a gel-type of substance. If you ever go to Miami for example, you can get it at most barbecue rib shacks along with “rib sandwiches”.

By the way, a rib sandwich isn’t a sandwich per se. At one of these shacks, I actually asked how you could eat a sandwich with the bones still in the meat, and they looked at me like I was crazy. It’s just a portion of ribs served with white bread on the side in a styrofoam container.

Finally, pork never made it onto our holiday dinner tables. There was no holiday ham, or chitterlings (aka chittlins). To this day I’ve never tried chitterlings. My late grandmother made them for the above-mentioned anonymous aunt one time. It might’ve been Thanksgiving. They stunk up the entire hallway and from childhood on, I was never interested in them.

For the older generations, other parts of the pig were popular too such as pickled pig feet. I was never interested in those either. It’s also worth noting that vegetables like collard greens were often made tastier when cooked with pork, but there are other methods today.

Dad’s Aversion To Pork

“There’s no pork in this right?” I’d made a pot of Jambalaya with chicken and sausage as the featured proteins, one of Emiril LaGasse’s succulent recipes. Before scooping some out, Dad saw fit to verify that I wasn’t about to poison him with the “swine”. In Black Muslim circles, pork is referred to as swine. I knew of Dad’s aversion to pork and wouldn’t dare think of feeding him the other white meat.

“No Dad, there’s no pork in it,” I said, partially smiling. Knowing of his disdain of pork, I was both surprised but not surprised to hear his suspicion that I would attempt to feed it to him.

I don’t recall when Dad became averse to pork and pork products. One of the many books he had laying around his home was How To Eat To Live, by the legendary Honorable Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. I first heard of the book in the song Beef, by the rapper KRS-One in my teens, a song that I might still have mostly memorized. In any case, yes, Dad became averse to anything pork-related at some point.

Any of you who have read my writings up to this point know that my Dad has told me interesting stories over the years. Several have involved pork. One of my favorites that I first heard was when I lived with him in my early 30s as I was transitioning into my federal science career. Read on to see it for yourself. During that two-and-a-half-year stretch, we got how shall I say, better acquainted, as my parents divorced when I was three years old.

Beef Chop Suey: The Breakfast Of Champions……For A Little While At Least……

Dad was a man of routines, especially when it came to his diet. Part of his routine involved getting Beef Chop Suey from one of the local Chinese restaurants. He would have it for breakfast on Friday mornings. In fact, he was so regular that he said they knew what he was going to order whenever he walked in the door.

“What’s Up?”, I’d wake up seeing him bent over his kitchen counter in his undershirt and boxers, eating the protein, vegetables, and rice out of the Tupperware he warmed it up in. He was in a state of euphoria as he gobbled it down. It would be his biggest meal of the day because he, “Ate breakfast like King, lunch like a Prince, and dinner like a Pauper!”

Dad’s kitchen smelled good on those Friday mornings when he nuked his Beef Chop Suey. Just like the Long John Silver’s fish planks he ate on Thursday night; it was like clockwork. Then one day, the beef chop suey stopped abruptly.

“I think they put pork in my Beef Chop Suey. After I ate it, I could feel little things running across my body!” He acted out the sensation, moving his fingers in a piano-playing motion from his right side to his left side. He was convinced. It’s one of my favorite father-son moments of all time and it makes me laugh every time I think about it. It was possible, I guess. I also noticed that he would change his routines every now then just to ‘do something different.’

Dad’s Most Astounding Pork Story

Dad’s most powerful pork story, though, involved some of relatives from down south. I never met them because of the divorce. He told me that these people ate pork all the time, in addition to putting mayonnaise on everything. By the way mayonnaise, just like cheese, does make most everything taste better, though it is loaded with calories. I think using them together in a meal on a burger, for example, is considered “doubling your fats”.

“My one cousin ate so much pork that he started to look like a hog!” This one claim from Dad is forever etched into my mind verbatim. It also makes me laugh every time I think about it. It was like a classmate from South Carolina at Johnson C. Smith University. This individual insisted that he witnessed someone’s limb regrow as the person was prayed over during a church service. Like Dad’s pork story, I wondered if this classmate was delusional, imagined it or if the story was true.

“His face started to elongate into a snout, and his ears actually started to become pointy like those of a pig,” Dad said with conviction, once again affirming that he saw what he thought he saw. If it sounds like a fantastic story to you, the reader, imagine how I felt listening to it in real time.

You Are What You Eat

In any case, maybe the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was right in that you are what you eat. In closing, I’ve never officially sworn off pork myself. I still like it on my pizza, and there’s nothing like the crunch and the taste of pork bacon or a fried pork chop every once in a while.

My best friend and my Uncle “Ice” also both prepare very, very tasty barbecue pork ribs albeit in different ways. The Midwest is in fact known for its barbecue which includes the afore mentioned ribs, but also pulled pork sandwiches. Finally there’s also nothing like a Sausage McMuffin with Egg (and cheese) from McDonalds; again, every once and a while.

Pork is also a popular protein in the cuisines of other countries and ethnicities. Look at pretty much any Asian or Latin American menu for example, and you’ll see several pork-based dishes available. As a postdoctoral scientist in a lab with mostly Chinese colleagues, I noticed that pork was a very popular protein at our lab gatherings. I recall a Canadian friend of West Indian descent ordering some “Jerk Pork” one night in Toronto, ON. Chicago is known for its Polish Sausages, which are very, very good. I’ve also heard individuals from Pennsylvania discuss a Dutch pork dish called “Scrapple”. Finally, there’s the stereotypical whole roasted pig with the apple in its mouth at Hawaiian luaus.

The Author’s Post Thoughts/Reflections

“I WON’T GET MAD AT YOU IF YOU DECIDE NOT TO EAT IT. BUT DON’T TELL ME NOT TO EAT IT EITHER!” If you haven’t deduced it from this piece, pork consumption can be a big deal depending on your values and the circle you come from. At a church service years ago, a clergyman whom I’ll call Pastor Gray of the Jordan River Missionary Baptist Church in Buffalo, NY started passionately preaching about eating pork.

It was probably a bit of a pushback on the resurgence the Nation of Islam’s doctrines at that time. One of their biggest teachings of course involved not eating pork. Those doctrines were reenergized by the conscious Hip Hop music of the time (the late 1980s and early 1990s). When he got deep into his sermons, Pastor Gray became very passionate. His high-pitched voice ascended to a bit of a scream or a wail, a hallmark of many black preachers. His passion would startle you back to consciousness if you just happened to doze off for a moment.

I told this story here on Big Words Authors partially out of humor. However, it also is a bit of a thought piece. My mother was very vigilant about our diets early on. I’m very grateful for that as the majority of her dietary habits have stayed with me. We never got sick much and to this day I still don’t. As we all age, it’s also important to be mindful of our diets and incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

I didn’t always understand his eating habits and his eating schedule. That said, Dad’s avoidance of pork may be a contributor to a relatively healthy life. Perhaps it is true that, “You are what you eat!” The opening quote of this piece, by the way, comes from the afore-mentioned song by KRS-One Beef.

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The Last Time I Walked The Eastside Of Buffalo After Dark

“It was my first time learning that trouble can come find you, even when you haven’t done anything to stir it.”

This short story on Big Words Authors comes from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. It involves something that most everyone who has grown up in the inner city has experienced. Sometimes situations in life come find you, even when you are not looking for them.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley in the shadows of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4

The last time I walked on the eastside of Buffalo after dark was in the late 1990s. It was definitely after high school and it was before I started graduate school. I was an undergraduate in my late teens and early twenties. Like Detroit, my hometown of Buffalo, NY had started developing its own reputation for violence and deviant behavior, a hallmark of many of the deindustrialized cities in the United States. If you’re curious about such things, a good book to read would be “The Code of The Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City” by Dr. Elijah Anderson who describes this phenomenon in Philadelphia.

Hanging Out on Chuck’s Street

It was a summer night like so many I’d experienced growing up in my beloved hometown. I was on my friend Chuck’s street, Martha, which was near the Suffolk Street intersection and the 33 (Kensington) Expressway. It was the summertime, the sun had set and the streetlights came on after 8 pm. I was no longer a child so I could technically hang out as long as I wanted to with no recourse from my mother. We’d started doing that in high school anyway. I was home on summer break, and was living unsupervised most of the year now already because I was attending school down south.

Chuck was one of many ‘class clowns’ at Hutchinson Central Technical High School (Hutch-Tech) while I was there. He just happened to be one from my graduating class. We befriended one another in our freshman year and were tight ever since, along with another friend by the name of Hestin. Our friendships lasted long after we received our diplomas in the mid-1990s. Starting in high school, it was nothing for me to wander over to Chuck’s house from my own and come back after dark as it was only a 10–15-minute walk.

While at Chuck’s house we’d hang out on his porch, shooting the breeze with the other kids on his street. We would indulge in ‘ribbing’ on each other and talk about all kinds of things in the sports and hip-hop worlds, people we knew around town, girls we wanted to get with – everything. There were always lots and lots of laughs and jokes, some of which Chuck authored and some at his expense. It was always a good time.

A Buffalo Summer Night Unlike Any Other

One night after dark I left Chuck’s porch, I headed for home but this time with a different outcome than previous nights. It was a night I would never forget. That particular night I turned up Millicent Avenue and planned to walk down Orleans Street back to my mother’s street. As I strolled carefree up the street, not far from the corner a car pulled up alongside me, starting events that would forever change my life.

“WERE YOU TRYING TO BREAK INTO MY CAR, MAN?” The driver of the car was a menacing-looking black man who could have been in his twenties. If my memory serves me correctly, he wore a short afro and was brown skinned. He might have been wearing all black and maybe not. At nighttime, most dark colors look the same. It was one of those instances which triggers your “Fight or Flight Response” because you know there is imminent danger. It all happened so fast that I didn’t ponder trying to run. Had I tried, he had a clear advantage. By default, I chose trying to reason with him.

“WERE YOU TRYING TO BREAK INTO MY CAR MAN?” He stopped his car and got out, crossed the street, and approached me. I felt my chest pounding and my breath shortening in anticipation of whatever was going to happen next.

“NO, I WASN’T. IT WASN’T ME,” I said holding my hands up in surrender hoping that he would recognize that I was the last person who would try to do such a thing to his car.

“WERE YOU TRYING TO BREAK INTO MY CAR MAN?” I felt something hard collide with the side of my head, knocking me back. Is this really happening to me? My mind raced is the situation continued unfolding.

“WERE YOU TRYING TO BREAK INTO MY CAR MAN?” Something else collided with the side of my head further disorienting me. I looked around for help on the street, but this was the one night no one seemed to be out on their porches. Even if they were out, would someone have helped? To the casual onlooker, me and my assailant could have been a drug dealer and junkie, a bookie and someone who owed him money, or a man seeking revenge on someone who sought to break into his car. We could have been any one of the now ubiquitous statistics involving violence and young black men in the United States’ inner cities.

I turned and ran at first out into the street hoping that someone would see us. A car speeding down the street slammed on its breaks and honked, and then kept going. Again, this could have been an altercation taking place for any number of reasons and why would someone else look to get involved?

My assailant caught me, and I waited for him to present a weapon in that early Buffalo twilight. Something else slammed into the side of my head, this time dropping me to the ground. I waited for what I thought was certain death. I laid still on the ground as the world went silent, waiting for my fate which I just knew was going to involve a gun. After moments of silence, I looked up slowly, and my assailant was gone. I got myself together and then hurried back home.

As I scurried up Millicent to Orleans and then my mother’s street, I turned and looked around every corner. My hands burned slightly from some scrapes on my skin. I probably got them when I fell on the ground. My mind continued racing. Is he still out here? Is he going to come back for me? Why is this happening?

As I entered the house, Mom was in her bedroom praying, just getting up from her bedside if my memory is accurate. In those stages of our lives, she had progressed on her spiritual journey. She told me that she was praying around the time that I described my altercation. It was the second time, she experienced one of her sons coming home after a near life and death experience. The first was my brother’s second or third year of high school when he and some buddies went to a party on the westside of Buffalo where they didn’t know anyone. I remember that night vividly as well.

Getting Closure

In the aftermath of it all, I was a bit shaken up mentally. It was my first time learning that trouble can come find you, even when you haven’t done anything to stir it. All you have to do is look like someone else. This is what’s called a crime of mistaken identity, and I recall my Dad telling me a similar story from his youth in the New York City subway system. I suddenly didn’t feel safe in my neighborhood or my city. What if I ran into this guy again?

One of Mom’s approaches to help me get past the incident was to physically walk with me down Millicent Avenue so that I could mentally confront the incident and get closure on it. I recall feeling a sense of resentment and not wanting to go back there. She was right and it was for the best, to at least get past the fear that was dominating my soul.

“I’ve been walking these streets for years and nothing ever happened to me,” Chucky said afterwards when I told him what happened. I didn’t hear any compassion or sympathy in his voice. I didn’t know if he was just saying that to be a smartass or just making an observation. In hindsight it could have been either, but it sounded like because he’d never experienced it, what happened to me was somehow invalid.

“Well Bro, it’s no secret that some folks in the family question your toughness.” In what was one of many such declarations throughout our lives, my brother put his gift of delivery and counsel on display. It was my first ever visit to see him in “Sin City” (Las Vegas), a lively visit in which our best friend left within one night over some silly spat with my brother.

We ended up in a spat too, and in my case, I resented my brother for a while after he made his judgement on me and the remainder of that trip was ruined. I remember getting on my flight and making eye contact with him as I walked into the jetway with everyone else. I felt bad about being angry with him. He looked back at me wondering what he’d said wrong. My visit to the desert shouldn’t have finished that way. We were brothers and we were all we had as Mom often said then and years later. Over time I got passed it.

Walking The Eastside of Buffalo After Dark

“I walk the streets of Buffalo at night and have been doing so for a while,” my then stepfather said. “I see some streets and when I look down them, they might look dangerous and I don’t go down them. If some trouble comes towards me, I feel confident that I can get out of it or handle it, but I’ve never been discouraged from walking the eastside at nighttime.” He was an older man and a Vietnam veteran, so I imagine he’d seen much worse than the eastside of Buffalo after dark.

In any case, that was the last time I walked the eastside of Buffalo after dark. Would I do it if I absolutely had to today? Sure. But like so many inner cities described in the above-mentioned book by Dr. Elijah Anderson, I won’t do it if unnecessary. If I do, I’ll follow my father’s sage wisdom. A child of upper Manhattan, at some point he started telling us to, “Keep your eyes moving at all times!”

If I had to walk the eastside of Buffalo after dark today, I most certainly would. I’d walk it knowing that trouble may come to find me, even I’m not looking for it. I would know that there’s the threat of violence, and potentially death for me or someone else.

Post Story Reflections/Thoughts

Some experiences permanently become a part of us. This experience is one that I will never forget. We may gain closure and heal from the negative experiences in our lives, but some things you never forget. Furthermore, in the United States’ inner cities, for everyone there is the threat of violence. Dr. Elijah Anderson covered this in his book “Code of The Street”. Finally, to this day when I visit Buffalo, my mother reminds me every time I go out to, “Be careful out there!” I likewise try to get in and out of the city without anything bad happening whenever I visit.

The Happy Couple Who Commuted On The Metro

“Once they made eye contact, he jumped on the metro car and they happily sat next to one another for the ride back to Huntington.”

My first short story on Big Words Authors reflects on the pre-Covid-19 world. It involves the importance of human-to-human interaction. It focuses on people and a specific couple I used to see on the metro, among others.

In the Washington, DC metropolitan region, thousands of federal employees, military service people, contractors and other workers commute daily. They use the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) trains and buses to travel to their places of business. Likewise the metro system is arguably the lifeblood of the region upon which everything runs. Depending on what time you start your commute, you can see familiar faces. Adjust your time just a little bit, and you’ll see a whole new set of faces. You’ll in fact see the same commuters at the same time daily unless there’s a change of some kind. It could be a doctor’s appointment, a meeting, an emergency – anything in that person’s life that day.

The Twice A Day Eight Car Mixing Bowl

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a couple I saw regularly on the Yellow Line train. I normally commuted to and from Crystal City, VA when I saw them. I actually saw a lot of people on the trains in the mornings and evenings. Many got on the train at specific hours. Whenever I went into the office earlier or later than my usual time, I saw different commuters on my route.

As a single man, obviously the women stood out to me the most. I saw many that I wanted to talk to of varying races and ethnicities. The metro however wasn’t always the optimal place to ‘cold approach’ them. In terms of learning ‘game’ for which there are courses now, cold approaching is simply striking up a conversation with a woman you don’t know who has sparked your interest.

Sometimes, you can wait because you’ll probably see the woman again, but in a city like Washington, DC where people are constantly coming and going, you might have to make your move when the opportunity is there because the woman may be visiting from out of town, or she may only be on your side of town for a meeting that particular day. In short, you may never see her again if you don’t make a move. Whatever move you make, you must be confident and classy to get the best results, especially with other commuters around, sometimes in earshot of your conversation.

Many people are into their morning rituals, getting ready for the daily battle ahead at their respective government agencies. In the evening people are looking to just go home and relax after a day of battle. Like at the gym, seeing a woman with earbuds on is a bit of a deterrent from going over and saying hello. Some openly converse on their phones and disturbing them would be awkward or rude. The fear of looking foolish in those moving enclosed spaces was also a bit of a deterrent. As a single man this is the reality and you have to decide as the clock ticks, like a quarterback looking for his target as the pass rush closes in.

The Happy Couple on the Metro

In any case, there was one couple I randomly thought about late one Pandemic night when driving to Herndon, VA to watch a Buffalo Bills game. On the 37-minute drive, I decided to not listen to any YouTube podcasts, livestreams, or playbacks, but instead to the rainy-day piano jazz station. As my phone’s GPS guided me to my destination, I listened to the music and my mind drifted off into my creative space and the couple popped into my mind. They were two of hundreds and maybe thousands of people I hadn’t seen since COVID-19 swept around the globe and inflicted lockdowns on our country. It made those of us who were fortunate to do so, work remotely from home 100% of the time.

Some mornings, or evenings, or both, I would see the couple. I lived near the Huntington Metro stop, the southern terminal of the Yellow Line. The couple would arrive at the station together in the morning, sit next to one another and make their morning commute. They were a middle-aged black couple. I can tell you that he wore glasses and I think she did too. Both were always dressed professionally. He might have worn a mustache and he had a studious look about him. She was an attractive woman.

As I waited for the train to take me home one evening at Crystal City, I saw her seated on the Yellow line as it pulled into the station. She caught my observant single man’s eye. I noticed she was looking for someone on the platform. It was him. He too was looking for her from the platform.

Once they made eye contact, he jumped on the metro car and they happily sat next to one another for the ride back to Huntington. They coordinated their evening commutes so that they could ride home together, a sign that these two people were genuinely in love with one another. One of my ex-girlfriends and I had something similar before our relationship turned for the worse, but that’s a story for a different day.

Appearance vs. Reality

This is what made me think about this couple. They looked so happy as they made those commutes together. I don’t know if they had children. I don’t know if this was their first, second or third marriage. Perhaps they figured it out on the first try, unlike so many other people in these modern technological times where families are different, both genders are educated and the gender roles have been blurred. I don’t know. What I can tell you is that they genuinely looked both happy and peaceful as they rode from stop to stop.

They could have gone home and fought like cats and dogs. When they got into their car, she might have started giving him the business and talking his ear off about her day. They may have gone home and partitioned themselves into different rooms for the remainder of the night. They may not have been the couple portrayed as dutifully riding together in the morning and the evening. After all, from experience, I’ve learned that you never know what’s happening with a couple behind closed doors, no matter the outward appearance.

I did sense, however, that they were genuinely happy based upon the energy they gave off and what my spirit discerned. They had figured out something that had been forgotten for a significant number of the rest of the population in the generation before and after mine. They were happy, or at least looked so on the outside for all of us to see.

The Author’s Post Story Reflections/Thoughts

There are several significances to this story. First. While our morning and evening commutes were burdensome and tiring on some days, they were a way of life. Furthermore there was value to seeing faces you both did and did not recognize. In the Washington, DC area, I especially disliked the commutes in the mid-summer humidity which lurked even at nighttime. Again though, there was value to those commutes.

Second. During our work days, there’s a lot going on. Whether its commuting, going to lunch or going for coffee at Starbucks, you never know who is watching you. I’m certain the couple in this story on the metro, had no idea I noticed them. I did however notice the harmony and love for each other they displayed outwardly. They were rare in today’s world. They probably never would have thought that I would remember them on that random Saturday night. If I see them again, perhaps I will share this with them.