Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pride Goes Before A Fall

And apparently my pride in our country came right before the fall of our cable and internet. Oh, I'm not kidding. In the middle of Rick Warren's prayer- BAM. Not a thing on my TV screen or laptop. Just blackness and the sinking feeling that I was actually going to miss a monumental moment in history.

Panic quickly set in followed by anger and it was on the cusp of this that my poor husband called with an innocent question. "What?!" I snapped as I answered his call. Wife of the Year, that's me. {Honey, let me publicly say- I am so sorry. Inauguration or not, you always deserve better than that.} After explaining the current dilemma he quickly let me go and I called our cable company.

A "Customer Account Executive" (the newest title for the lowly customer service rep, God bless 'em) finally came on the line and asked what the problem might be. I told her and she then asked if we lived on Signal Mountain. I answered in the affirmative and heard, "Oh, yes, our cable and internet services are out all over the mountain right now."

"Are you freaking kidding me?!?"

"Oh, no ma'am, this isn't a joke."

Well, I had to give her credit for kind honesty. I thanked her for her time, regrouped, threw on some shoes and a jacket (thank goodness I actually managed to put real clothes on that morning versus staying in my pjs like usual) and headed down the mountain. I could think of two restaurants that had TVs and would probably be airing the Inauguration. On the way down I called my sister, asked her to turn up the volume on her TV and put her phone to the speakers.

And so I will always remember where I was when President Obama took the oath: on the sharpest curve down Signal Mountain Road.

As I neared the bottom of the mountain, I decided to head to Merv's Bar & Grill (sidenote: home to Tennessee's best cheeseburger. Seriously.) and see if I could at least catch the Inaugural Address. Score. TV's were on, people were quiet, empty seat at the bar and I could even enjoy an order of their amaaaazing french fries. It was all looking better and better...

Until about the middle of the speech when the table of women behind me were apparently bored and starting chatting away. Until the ignorant men beside me called The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery the worst racial epithet you can imagine during the benediction.

I couldn't completely fault the women for chatting. We were in a public place, after all. But you better believe that when I heard that man say that word, my jaw dropped and I turned to look at him in utter shock. I wasn't the only one, thankfully.

Heartbroken, I turned back to focus on the TV as tears welled up in my eyes. I'm not stupid. I'm not naive. I know there are others like this man who carry their ignorance proudly. But between the former student (who posted yet another racist remark just before the inauguration) and that man, I saw more ugliness in the human character than I have in quite a while.

His speech given and the benediction spoken, I headed home. Despite the ugliness that I had witnessed, my heart swelled with the immensity of what I had seen play out before me, miles away, in our nation's capital.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

~ from Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem, "Praise Song for the Day"


  1. One of my girlfriends sent me a copy of Rick Warren's prayer today in an email. I'll send it to you. What a day you had. Sorry!
    Thanks for emailing me. Love & blessings!

  2. Sorry you had to hear the slurs during this special time. Maybe one day such words will only be in the history books:)

  3. I'm so sorry you had to experience that in full force. It's amazing how change can occur but mindsets are too stubborn.

  4. wow. i felt so proud of our country that far we've come. i guess you experienced firsthand how far we still have to go...

    i guess you saw that i snuck on your blog and changed my logo! OH, and i already have a new customer thanks to you! :)

    one more thing...have fun in NC!


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