The Parade

Chapter 17: The Parade and the KKK (Circa 1972)

Port Summerville is as white as rice; meaning, hardly any folks of color live here. Sure, we have a fair number of Mexicans and Vietnamese, but if you are a colored fellow in town, as a rule, you’re either lost or only passing through.

I’m not particularly proud of this, but we’ve got a local KKK chapter…. sort of. All of this began when the founding club members, who were all friends or acquaintances, decided they wanted to start a club, which was more of an excuse to drink. Leslie was the first to bring up the KKK because he had a great-uncle who used to be a member.

As a kid, Leslie filtered out what he wanted to, and kept the memories of what he remembered was the fun stuff. I don’t think any of the organizers were clear about who or what the KKK was or what they represented. What the group did know, they didn’t want to be Rotarian’s, and the Masons didn’t allow blacks or Jews. He said when he was about eight- years-old, his uncle Chuck told the youngins’ stories about his club. Leslie began to tell the other founders what he remembered. The other members surrounded him like kids at a campfire. They were focused, and every eye was fixed on Leslie as he began his recollections. These fellows are not complete fools, but they’re not Rhodes Scholars either!

“I’ve been thinking and studying on this for a while. We need a club instead of hanging around every Friday night, not to mention the women folk are fed up, too. We need a cause, and I think this is the one.”

The others zeroed in on every word Leslie spoke.

In his broken English, Hector asked Leslie, “What gives?”

Leslie told them that they call themselves a fraternal order, sort of a college deal, and they’d be like frat brothers.

Someone said, “I like the sound of that!”

None of these fools had ever been to college, but I doubt any of them can spell college or for that matter, spell KKK! But that didn’t keep them from continuing the conversation, and Leslie told the others how he thought the club worked and what they did.

“These fellows get together all the time and hold meetings and such. My uncle invited my brothers and me to one of their family events. They share picnics with their families, march in parades, and you ready for this, Travis?”

“What is it, Leslie?”

“They make home visits to black folks!”

Travis, (who happens to be black), says, “So what you’re saying, if you can’t make the meeting, they’ll take the meeting to you!”

Leslie adds, “Travis, it’s a whole lot bigger than that. I think more like a community outreach program. Guess what else? They call themselves ‘knights’!”

“Just knights? More like knights in shining armor?”

Travis lowers and shakes his head, almost in tears.

“What a bunch of neat guys! Pardon me, Leslie… I mean gentlemen.”

Adolf, the only Jew, says, “More like men among men! These are my kind of guys!”

Tuye, a Vietnamese, tells Leslie he’s worried they’re not good enough. Leslie tells them they’ll have to wait and see. He assures them that they would be fair because that’s just the way they are.

Leslie continues in a sort of concerned tone, “And guys, we need to watch our language, they’re pretty religious and big into crosses.”

Travis commented, “They’re not only knights but saints too!”

Hector, a Mexican national, says, “man-oh-man, Leslie. Travis is right! They sound like a bunch of nice fellows! I’m in!”

Tuye said he read somewhere they start a lot of their meetings with a bonfire! Probably like a campfire to roast marshmallows and weenies for the kids! Leslie tells them they also have a mascot. Not a lion or a bear either, but a dragon and not just any old dragon—it’s a grand dragon!

Talking among themselves, they were as giddy as school girls on prom night. They discussed the plans they would do if they could join. These fellows had no clue what they were getting themselves mixed up with. Travis departs from the others and wanders across the room. After a few minutes of solitude, he returns and has an admission. He was a little worried about something, and the others asked him what the problem was.

“I’ll just say it and be done with it. I don’t think the KKK will let me in.”

Hector asks Travis why?

“I dropped out of high school. There, I said it.”

Leslie tells him they weren’t going to single him out because he didn’t finish school because they’re bigger than that.

“I doubt any of this motley crew graduated Summa Cumma Lumma!”

Everyone got a big laugh. Whatever concerns Travis admitted to, were soon forgotten.

“If they let us join, we should invite them to Port Summerville! I’ll get Pearl to whip up a delicious meal!”

He pauses for a moment— “God I hope they let us in!”

Leslie tells the group more and more stories of his youth and all he could remember his uncle had said. He recalled one evening his uncle had to leave and go to a blanket party.

Stanley, the only gay member, says, “Like a slumber party?”

“Not really, Stanley— more of a get together for other members who are having problems.”

Leslie said that he heard it too. I’m sorry to say, and I’ve met most of these fellows, but they don’t have the brains God gave a gnat! A blanket party is a form of corporal punishment usually used in the military on other members for misdeeds or rule violations.

Then Leslie says, “But boys, this is the best part…. you guys ready?”

Tuye says, “Come on Leslie! What is it? Don’t keep us in suspense!”

“You really ready?”

“Yes, Leslie, tell us!”

Leslie stands up, pauses for a moment, throws his hands up in the air and exclaims, “They have costume parties all the time! Now Fellows, this is the one downside. They’re not creative as far as their attire goes. They always wear the same getup. It’s like a ghost outfit with a cone-looking hat. But who cares? They dress up for Halloween all year long!”

“I’ve heard enough! Let’s contact the national organization to see if they’ll approve us!”

“Good idea, Hector. I’ll get Wilma to write a letter right away! Boys—we’re on our way to getting some respect in this town!”

Wilma, Leslie’s wife, filled out the paperwork, including a handwritten letter and provided the list of founding members as required.

About a month later, the three got together to open a letter from national. The group met at Travis’s house and took a seat at his kitchen table.

“Well, fellows, this is it.”

Leslie opens the letter. It was written on formal letterhead. The letter was from the Imperial Klan’s of America. Their exuberance was deafened as Leslie began to read out loud.

Dear Sirs;

We regret to inform you that your membership has been denied. The founding organizers of your proposed chapter appear to be of questionable national origin. Because of our decision, you must discontinue using the initials KKK, its symbols, trademarks or service marks, forthwith.

Yours truly,

Jordon Smith, attorney-at-law

All in attendance were in shock. Not a word was spoken, I think Travis was spotted shedding a tear. The others shook their heads in disbelief. Hector was the first to break the silence.

“Well guys, that’s that.”

Then Adolf says, “What a bunch of snobs!”

Hector adds, “We don’t need them anyway. We’ll continue on like we never heard of the stupid KKK!”

Travis left the room telling the others he needed to be by himself, Adolf tagged along. Travis was overheard saying to Adolf, that Leslie was probably to blame for the denial because he had a girl name. Adolf, knowing how upset Travis is, puts his arm around him and assures him they will build an even bigger and better club.

Travis says to Adolf, “We need to get back to the others. Stanley has been bawling for over an hour. I think the others are about to lynch him!”

The two went back to be with the others and began to work on plan B.

Chapter 18:

Despite their rejection, the club roster began to grow, and membership began to expand. The club included four more white guys, one more Mexican, and another Vietnamese refugee. Buster, a friend of Stanley’s, and who happens to be Canadian, wanted to be a member too. Leslie informed him that foreigners were not allowed. Tuye, the Vietnamese, took exception.

“Leslie, where in the hell do you think Hector and me are from—Maine?”

A little embarrassed, Leslie says, “Oh yeah,” and agrees with the consensus of the other members.

Buster’s membership is voted on and approved. Leslie performs a brief swearing-in ceremony. Buster is assigned to the finance committee. He has the duty of overseeing fifteen dollars and twenty-seven cents in the treasury, secured in the club safe, which is a coffee can. Stanley, a known fruit, congratulates Buster and gives him a hug and a kiss.

Adolf was overheard saying to Leslie, “That’s all we need, a Canadian fruit!”

And last, but not least, to round off the club roster, is old man Steinberg’s oldest son, Adolf already mentioned. I asked Mr. Steinberg one time why he named his son after such a madman?

“John, you ever read about Charles Manson?”

“Why, yes Ben, I have. Wasn’t he the one who had all those people hacked up including a lady movie star?”

He replies, slightly irritated, “Yes John, that one. Now should everyone who named his kid Charles take it back because someone with the same name happens to be a crazed psychopath?”

“I guess not, Ben.”

“Besides, John, I named him after Adolf Hurwitz, the famous Jewish mathematician not that lunatic Hitler!”

“Sorry Ben, I didn’t mean to offend.”

“None taken, John. Would you care for a bagel with schmear?”

“No thanks, Ben, I just ate, thank you, though.”

I didn’t have a clue what a schmear was, and I wasn’t going to take any chances either. You can’t trust a man who won’t eat bacon.

Back to the club. The first order of business was that the club needed to figure out a new club name. Several suggestions were discussed, but none appealed to them. I’m confident they will come up with a suitable name sooner or later. But they’ve got a new motto, if you can afford beer, you can join, and they’re serious.

I don’t think anyone in town takes them in earnest. They’re harmless, for the most part, and the meeting is a gathering every Friday night down at the Vietnamese church. They always start the meeting with a prayer and a shot of whiskey.

After the prayer, usually led by Leslie, the clubs self-proclaimed leader always ends the prayer, “We ask all of this in the name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Adolf being the only Jewish member of the club always loudly objects to the Jesus Christ part. Leslie loosely apologizes and includes a hint of sarcasm along with a touch of reverence.

“Sorry Adolf, I keep forgetting you Jews are still waiting around for your Jesus.”

“Our Messiah, Leslie. The Messiah.”

Leslie rolls his eyes. Messiah, my ass, he thinks to himself.

Then he says to Adolf, “You need to face the facts, Adolf and get down on your hands and knees and accept Jesus as your personal lord and savior!”

After the prayer and debate, they begin the ritualistic drinking and playing, and I use the term loosely…music—all night long! When I say all night long, I mean all night long!

The band knows two songs, and the more they drink, the drunker they get, and the more intoxicated they get, the music becomes deafening! Adolf plays lead tambourine and the bongos, Stanley plays the piccolo. No one thought a piccolo would work, but to keep him happy, they let him join in. Everyone else plays guitar.

While the others are passed out, and when you think the music is over, whoever oversees the bass guitar decides to perform a solo that usually lasts about an hour! After the others regain consciousness, they start the whole thing again—from the top. Now that’s entertainment!

The town leaders are quite proud of the minority statistics. As a matter of fact, even fewer Jews live in Port Summerville than any other group. They keep to themselves and stay out of sight…by choice.

The tourist bureau considers them a novelty, and in their words, “an important contribution to the tourism industry in Port Summerville.” They’re more like a circus sideshow. They own a few of the gift shops, and one has the only jewelry store.

The closest thing to a synagogue in Port Summerville is Ben Steinberg’s back porch. Every week on the Sabbath, a few of the town Jew’s gather, tell stories and pray. They eat a kosher barbecue dinner, get smashed, shout out a couple of Shaloms’, and that’s the worship scene of our Jew community.

I’m proud to be part Jew, not much, but enough to get my feathers ruffled when I’m told a Jew jokes. On the other side, not enough to go to Ben’s synagogue. Besides, I’m a Presbyterian, I think.

To keep up with the times and be more progressive, Port Summerville extended the hand of friendship to both the gay and black communities. For whatever reason that no one can explain, not even the Chamber of Commerce, but Port Summerville is a “fruit basket magnet,” and they usually show up in pairs.

The black population, though quite small, continues to expand in numbers. They come here to find work at the shipyard or laborers in the surrounding cities and suburbs, or as I mentioned they were either lost or just passing through.

Darlene serves on the parade organizing committee. They’re not an official city government committee, just a group of busybodies that have nothing better to do. Their tasks are limited to the organizing of the seasonal parades every year, such as the Christmas parade, the Shrimp Festival parade, and a handful of others.

The parade organizing committee meet once a quarter by the same crowd of attendees and the same agenda. Every year the organizers get their parades rubber-stamped by the committee, afterward passed on for final approval from the permits department at City Hall.

Blacks were organizing events all over the country, mostly Juneteenth celebrations and equal rights marches. So, a few self-appointed black leaders thought Port Summerville needed a parade, too.

The gay community got wind of this and wanted a parade as well. I had my version of what a gay parade might look like, but taking Darlene’s advice, kept my mouth shut.

Perhaps a coincidence, but when the committee got together for their quarterly meeting, the other two groups showed up at the same time with their appointed representatives; Travis and Stanley.

Now things start to get complicated. Travis, who happens to be a black guy and a founding member of the club, had his loyalties challenged by other black leaders. Stanley, who is also a founding member, but in spite of his club affiliation with Travis, felt he needed to represent the gay community.

Though still club brothers, both decided to realign their loyalties temporarily for the sake of their respective constituency.

The two leaders made their pitch to the committee and were aware of the limited resources Port Summerville had for parades. Since the two were virtual outcasts, they decided to come together and share their limited funds for a parade, but they still needed approval from the committee.

Both groups had done their research and came prepared to make their case. They needed enough money for a permit and a banner, then volunteers would do the rest. Since both groups shared similar images in their logo, the design for a banner was a no-brainer! All they needed was a parade name. I told you it was complicated, but now things have gotten ridiculous.

Adolf Steinberg bursts into the meeting and says his group, the club, wanted a parade too! The problem was, his group had no money, except whatever was in the safe. He insisted meeting the other two and see if they could work together making this the country’s first—a pseudo-KKK group—blacks and gays coming together for a single parade event. Darlene, who is chairman of the committee, throws her hands up in the air. She asked Adolf if he was aware what the KKK was and what it stood for.

“Leslie’s uncle said they were a fraternal order. We figured it was sort of a college deal— like a fraternity.”

Darlene adds, “Have you boys been living under a rock all your life?”

Innocently Travis, defending Adolf says, “What gives, Darlene? What are you trying to say?”

“Travis, you of all people should know.”

“Know what, Darlene?”

Travis begins to get his feathers ruffled and as he puts it, about to go all Negro on Darlene.

“You must think I’m just some dumb ole’ colored boy, don’t you Miss Darlene?”

Not amused, she says, “Travis, how long have we been friends?”

Travis, slightly taken aback says, “A few years, I suppose.”

In a scolding tone, she says, “Travis, I want you to take this in the spirit in which it is intended… shut up!”

“Yes ma’am, I mean Darlene.”

Darlene continues, “All I was trying to say is that the KKK and all that it represents.”

She pauses for a moment, then concedes.

“Never mind Travis. I must be thinking of something else.”

Travis explains to the committee they had been denied membership but decided they would continue to follow, and I quote: “The KKK’s guiding principles.”

Darlene whispers to another committee member.

“How can a group of adult men be so naïve?”

The other member whispers, “Or stupid! I don’t think this bunch is aware we’ve been to the moon!”

Then she exclaims silently, “Hell, Adolf thinks it’s a planet!”

Darlene quietly responds, “Or that a microwave isn’t just a coffee warmer!”

The other replies, “Or what one is!”

Both snicker.

Darlene calls for a recess so the committee members can meet for a brief conference about the matter. Adolf, Stanley, and Travis head out to the hall and sit on a nearby bench. Travis starts the conversation.

“Stanley, I’ve been doing some checking. I didn’t want to say anything in the meeting, but I think Darlene may be on to something about the KKK.”

“What’s wrong Travis?”

In a serious tone, Travis says, “I think maybe it’s because of you that we were denied membership in the KKK.”

A bit irritated, Stanley counters.

“Is it because I’m white?”

Adolf and Travis look at each other in amazement.

“No, Stanley, not because you are white.”

Now concerned, Stanley says, “Oh my God—it’s because I’m a Unitarian! They’re afraid that my religious beliefs will influence them!”

“No Stanley, that isn’t it.”

With a pause, Stanley says, “Then, what is it, sweetie?”

Travis doesn’t want to tell him the real reason. To end the conversation and not hurt Stanley’s feelings, he says, “You need to be at least twenty-four to join. You’re too young.”

That was satisfactory enough for Stanley. The meeting got back under way, and the three were invited back inside. Darlene tells them if they can work out the details, she and the committee would send the paperwork along for approval. Travis lets Darlene know that he and the others won’t let them down.

Darlene’s final comment was, “I don’t know how you could. Good luck.”

I told you Port Summerville was weird.

As they say, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” Necessity indeed applied here.

The committee had other business to attend to and asked Travis, Stanley, and Adolf to discuss their plans for the parade in a room across the hall. During the meeting, Travis, the representative for the black delegation, tells Adolf they’ve got a lot to cover. Although Travis was still loyal to the club, he knew they needed to tone down anything that looked or smelled like the KKK.

Then, Travis says, “I’m not sure why, but the committee apparently has a problem with it, so try to come up with something else.”

Adolf replies, “We’ll think of something Travis, you have my word.”

Adolf is still reeling because of the denial from national and says condescendingly, “We can’t use those letters anyways. Ya’ll remember?”

Then doing air-quotes, he says, “And its symbols, trademarks or service marks, forthwith.”

It is much too early in their meeting for emotions to flare, but they do. Stanley, who represents the gay community, is almost in tears and silently yelling, says, “And for God’s sake, no hoods or those pajama things either! Their outfits are tacky!”

Adolf, a little put off says, “Their outfits? What happened to ‘our’ outfits, Stanley? And when did you get so hoity-toity? Besides, they’re costumes, and you know it! What gives Stanley, you’re a member too!”

“Not anymore, Travis says I’m too young. Besides, my new friends need help with the parade… so there!”

Travis tries to get them both on track with, “Adolf, are we clear about the getup?”

“Yes, Mr. Johnson.”

“Shut up, Adolf! Let’s all try to get along.”

In a pout, Stanley says, “If they don’t figure something out, they’ll ruin the parade for everyone!”

In a hushed voice, Adolf says, pointing to the committee members, “And they’d never forgive us!”

Now fully weeping, Stanley says he was upset and needed a hug. Adolf pats him on the back.

“There, there.”

Adolf continues to do his best to comfort Stanley. He tells him they will figure something out, and assured the two, no hoods either. It didn’t matter— they couldn’t afford them.

They decided to wear blue jeans and a nice shirt.

Stanley adds, “With a scarf?”

Adolf turns to Travis, and silently tells him he thought the scarf should be reserved for his bunch. Keep in mind, the committee members are about twenty feet away and witnessed most of the conversation—in astonishment I might add.

The committee members adjourned and left the room, except our three organizers. Towards the end of their meeting, they discussed the menu for the picnic.

Travis, the black’s representative, says, “My group will bring the fried chicken and malt liquor.”

Stanley, the gay rep says, “Isn’t that a bit stereotypical, Travis?”

“What do you mean, Stanley?”

Stanley leans in toward Travis, and in a whisper, says, “You know….”

“Know what?” Travis exclaims.

Stanley responds, “Fried chicken and malt liquor.”

Insulted, Travis asked, “Don’t you like fried chicken, Stanley?”

And in a huff, Stanley says, “Well yes, I do, but I prefer mine baked with sautéed mushrooms in a cream sherry sauce.”

Travis ignores him and asks Adolf, the representative for the club, “What will you and your bunch be bringing to the picnic?”

“We’ll get our old ladies to whip up some hot dogs and Collard greens.”

Stanley, practically yelling, says, “Travis did you hear him! He said collard greens!”

“Stanley, what’s your beef? My people don’t control all the food groups!”

“Travis, those idiots don’t eat Collard greens! He’s making fun of you!”

Travis condescendingly says, “Stanley, don’t go getting yourself all in an uproar! Honkies like Collard greens too! I don’t, and Wilma says they stink up the house.”

About then, Adolf jumps out of his chair and heads over towards Travis. Tension filled the air as these two exchanged insults.

“Honkies? Since when did you go all black on us?” Adolf exclaimed.

“Gee whiz, Adolf, I don’t know, maybe because I’m black!”

“Sorry Travis, I forgot.” Back to the fight. The two were eyeball-to-eyeball, and both sets of fists were raised ready to brawl. Stanley jumps in between the two and pushes them apart.

Stanley says to Travis, “Now Travis, you go and apologize to Adolf for calling him that name.”

Travis gives a reluctant apology.

Adolf not too accepting of the apology, only says, “No prob, cuz.”

That was the best Travis could muster for an apology. Sure is a lot of apologizing going on during the meeting as expected. The two returned to their respective corners, as it were.

Stanley whispers to Travis, “He is such a male.”

Adolf overhearing his comment says, “OK, fruit pants, what will you girls be bringing?”

Stanley responds to his insult.

“Adolf, I’ll sashay me and my fruit pants over there and slap the shit out of you!”

Now Travis intervenes between these two.

“It’s time for you boys to settle down. This bickering will get us nowhere. Adolf, apologize to Stanley.”

Now Stanley has worked his way into a full-blown tizzy!

“I won’t accept an apology from that baboon!”

Turning his back away, says, “Travis you tell him, I’m not speaking to that cretin.”

Stanley crosses his arms in protest followed by more pouting.

In an attempt at an apology, Adolf says, “Come on Stanley, I was kidding around. I’m soooo sorry. Let’s start over. Now, what will you and your friends be bringing to the picnic?”

Stanley rebounds from his fit, and giddily says, “Thank you, Adolf. Well, my friends and I will be serving delicious, individual quiche tarts with a fresh rose petal salad.”

Adolf and Travis look at each other curiously.

Then Travis asks, “Stanley—I’m dying to know, what beverages you will be bringing?”

Proudly, Stanley replies, “Pink Ladies and Daiquiris of course, you silly!”

Again, Adolf and Travis look at each other, but this time instead of amazement, it was more like shock! They were speechless.

Adolf aware of his sensitive nature, gently asks, “Stanley, now what exactly is a Pink Lady? I know what a Daiquiri is, I’m just not too familiar with the other one.”

Stanley gets all excited and gives the ingredients for a Pink Lady.

“It has a little of this, and a little of that, with an egg white all shaken up, all topped with a sweet red cherry! Yummy!”

Adolf turns to Travis and whispers, “Sounds more like fruit punch to me.”

Warning Adolf in a low tone, Travis says, “I’d be careful if I were you. That ‘slap-the-shit-out-of- you’ that he threatened was only a starter; he’s a black belt in karate.”

Overhearing a bit of their conversation, Stanley again says in a huff, “We don’t have to be such barbarians! Someone must add some civility to this event. You two are such simpletons!”

Travis turns to Adolf, and in an uppity tone says, “Why, my dear Adolf, I do believe we’ve been insulted!”

Similarly, Adolf says, “I concur, Travis, there does appear to be a bit of an attitude.”

The three had been making efforts to be as quiet as they could in their little meeting room, and after that exchange, they were overheard laughing by the others in the main conference room. Everything was peaceful once again.

After about an hour-long meeting, the three emerged and cheerfully announced they had an idea to incorporate the three groups and align their collaborative efforts.

No one thought it could ever happen, but Adolf and his group, standing side-by-side in complete solidarity with the black and the gay community, came together to create Port Summerville’s first annual Triple K-Blayday Parade. Triple K for obvious reasons, then black and gay shortened to form the word, Blay.

Darlene was overheard saying, “This ought to be interesting.”

Another benefit of the meeting, Adolf, and his organization finally came up with a name and were proud to introduce the newest club in Port Summerville; The TripleK Klub. Club was spelled using a K instead of a C because Stanley said switching them would be cute.

The one detail to work out was incorporating the three groups’ logos onto the same banner.

Travis says to the committee, “We’re way ahead of you.”

The three sketched out a design they all could agree on and decided the banner would include a rainbow design on the left, another one on the right, and a Confederate flag in the middle. Stanley and his new friend, Buster, the gay Canadian, volunteered to embroider a flower and peace symbol in the center of the Confederate flag.

They flipped a coin to see who would carry the banner, and who would lead the parade.

A few days later, they were issued a permit, and the parade date was set!

The invitations were sent out to the parade participants. The two holdouts were the mayor and the sheriff, at least for the time being.

Chapter 19:

The mayor and the sheriff had a private meeting to discuss the matter. I wish I’d been a fly on the wall!

After a brief conversation on other city matters and idle chit-chat, the mayor says, “Sheriff, I’ve got a real problem with this parade thing.”

Miles, the Sheriff, says, “I know what you mean. You’re in quite a pickle. If you don’t go, the blacks will think you’re a bigot.”

The concerned mayor says, “I know what you mean, Miles. But if I go, the anti-gay bunch will crawl up my ass.”

The sheriff, a bit shocked, looks at him and says, “They’ll do what?”

“You know what I mean. What in the hell goes on in that head of yours?”

“Sorry, your Excellency.”

Not amused, the mayor continues.

“My sister should have cut your balls off years ago! Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Another group to worry about if I don’t go. Are those knuckleheads? They’ll think I’m anti-white!”

“But you are white!”

“I know that, dumb-ass!”

The mayor begins to fidget in his chair and taps his pencil on the table.

He lights up a Camel, then continues. “I’m in one of those ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ scenarios.”

The mayor gets up from his chair and starts pacing around, taking several back-to-back puffs of his cigarette.

He turns and says to the sheriff, “You don’t have to go. You can use that, I’m too busy upholding the law bullshit!”

He paused again, then said in a panic, “I’ve got nothing!”

“Don’t worry Mayor, we’ll think of something.”

Then the sheriff throws both arms in the air and says, “I’ve got it! (You’d thought he’d just discovered the cure for cancer!) Send a representative from your office!”

“What are you talking about? There isn’t anyone! This is the kind of shit I’m supposed to do!”

The mayor sits back down and takes a few more drags from his cigarette.

He begins to tap his pen on his desk then says, “Maybe if I sit on the float with the queen!” The sheriff quickly interrupts.

He exclaims, “Are you crazy? They’ll think you’re a queer!”

“Not their queen, dumb shit! The black queen! They elected their own queen for the parade, you moron!”

He gets up from his chair and continues to pace again.

The mayor stops his pacing and decidedly says, “That’s it! I’ll sit on the float with her. That’s my best bet and will neutralize my position and show the community how open-minded I am. It will also distance me from the you-know-who’s without seeming too obvious. That should soften the blow.”

The sheriff takes a step back and stares at him. The mayor sees the stupid look on the sheriff’s face after the “soften the blow” comment.

“Miles, get your head out of the gutter!”

“You’re the one talking dirty!”

They both laughed, even though the mayor is feeling a bit pressured.

“Mayor, I think you’ve got a handle on the situation. This will demonstrate real political strength. You’re a real problem solver, Harry! I guess that’s why they elected you mayor!”

“Damn straight! Call me ‘Mayor Fix It’; ‘The problemater’! Miles, go tell Bertha to make an announcement to the press!”

Miles leaves the room, and the mayor sits back down in his chair, then kicks his feet up on his desk. Feeling slightly relieved at his decision, he takes a final couple of drags off his cigarette, then stomps the remaining butt out on the floor. All in a day’s work were his final thoughts. He left the building and got a massage.

The invitations soon went out, and the Shriner’s headed the list. Shriner’s only need to hear the word parade, and they’ll gladly accept the offer to participate. They could care-a-less about the theme. The only criteria were to make sure they had plenty of beer for them and gasoline for their mini-bikes.

Seizing the opportunity for votes, every politician in Port Summerville and the surrounding county participated as well.

Not wanting to be left out of this historic event, Miss Shrimp showed up too, along with her entourage of ladies-in-waiting. You’d think Miss Shrimp would be a knockout—not in this case. You get the title of Miss Shrimp by winning the shrimp eating contest. She’s fat and obnoxious, and chain smokes. The ladies-in-waiting are all well-known town sluts.

The mayor, satisfied with his tactical decision, did indeed attend the parade. In a last-minute mix-up, he rode in the I’m Queer, and I’m Here float and sat by their queen. She was a six foot, four-inch transvestite named Kelsey. The two have been secretly dating ever since the parade.

Chapter 20:

One Port Summerville cop, (I won’t mention any names, but his initials are Officer Dorf, begged the parade committee to let him oversee crowd control and security. There is a widespread rumor that Officer Dorf is a fruit, and everything points in that direction. I think he wanted to be a parade participant but didn’t mean to get found out—in other words, he wasn’t ready to come out of the closet.

Coming out of the closet is a new term cupcakes use when they want to tell the world of their fruitiness. I’m still bugged that all the special groups are hijacking words and phrases, like coming out of the closet, it doesn’t do anything but complicate my life! Because Darlene is way ahead of her time knew what the expression meant and selfishly kept it to herself, reserving that knowledge to screw with me. One day I was getting a pair of jeans out of the closet. She knew damn well where I was, but chooses instead to taunt me.

Seizing the opportunity, she’d ask where I was, and I yelled, “I’m in the closet!”

She would immediately start to laugh.

I’d holler back, “What’s so funny? I’m just in the closet!”

Still laughing, “When will you be coming out of the closet?”

Now, she’s being perverted.

“I’ll be out of the closet in a minute!”

Now she’s rolling on the carpet. I’ll never go in or come out of the closet again as long as I live! She’s such a jerk!

After the news of the parade had hit the papers, the story spread like wildfire and went nationwide. On day of the event, everyone was excited. The parade route began to fill, mostly spectators and curiosity seekers. Then the media started showing up. All the major news organizations were there: ABC, NBC, and CBS, plus a few newspaper reporters and magazine writers. Life Magazine’s photographer was going through rolls of film as fast as he could reload his camera!

Before the parade, we had opening speeches by the mayor, a couple of city councilmen, and a statement by Miss Shrimp welcoming everyone. Sadly, Miss Shrimp will be surrendering her crown in a few weeks, but already has a new one by winning the belching contest at the VFW. We wish her well in her continued conquest for excellence.

The fairgrounds were buzzing with everyone involved and were making final preparations for the picnic, and that is when the trouble began to brew. The parade received national media attention. Others noticed as well, including The Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, and another uninvited guest was this new group of nuts; The National Alliance. They got word the Klan wasn’t going to attend, and because they were a new organization, thought this would be an opportunity to get in front of the camera.

The KKK didn’t show up for reasons still unknown.

The scuttlebutt was that they thought the climate was too hot, and I quote, “The town itself smelled of fish.”

To be honest, the first two organizations, as a rule, are peaceful and promote their respective causes. This new bunch of idiots only hates. They make the KKK look like a church choir!

None of the planners or participants knew why the parade got the attention of the outsiders. But threw it all, Travis… a black guy, Stanley… a gay guy and Adolf… a Jew, all with the combined IQ of a brick, pulled it off. They had the tenacity to make a function like the Triple K-BlayDay parade work despite their perceived differences. And because of this, those outsiders had to come just to stir things up.

The parade completed its route and finally reached the fairgrounds. The kids were playing on the beach and their parents along with other adults socialized and mingled. Color and stereotypes were out the window, and everyone was having fun until a bullhorn blasted out loudly by the leader of the National Alliance.

“White Power! We’re white, and we’re right!”

It isn’t their usual style of doing things, but in need to respond, the NAACP representative took the bullhorn away from him and yelled, “Black Power! Black Power! Black Power!”

Not wanting to be left out, the ADL spokesman grabbed the bullhorn and yelled out an enthusiastic, “Go Jews!”

He only said it once. No one had ever heard that chant before. He got caught up in the moment, and wanted to come up with something clever, but couldn’t think of a word that rhymed with Jew.

Our three heroes had heard enough. The first was Travis, and he invited everyone to sing, “We Shall Overcome.”

The crowd enthusiastically sang along.

Then it was Adolf’s turn to sing his selection; “Die Fahne Hoch,” meaning “The Flag on High.”

He invited everyone to sing along, but no one knew the words and wound up doing a solo. Travis gave Adolf a high-five for his performance.

Stanley and his troupe ran on the platform and busted out a rendition of West Side Story’s, “I feel Pretty.”

After these performances, and in a show of solidarity between the three, all in attendance held hands and sang God Bless America. It was a picture-perfect moment.

During the hand holding part, instead of the usual boy/girl, girl/boy set up, it was more like black guy/white girl, gay guy/ black girl, white guy/gay guy. You get my drift. An occasional Mexican and a few Vietnamese were used to fill in the gaps.

When the hand holding was finally complete, they made a full human circle around the entire fairgrounds.

In disgust, the three groups of intruders got back on their buses and left as well as some of the media. The Life Magazine photographer passed out. In a statement from the magazine, they claimed the photographer was overcome with heat exhaustion. The truth is he had one too many Pink Ladies.

After all the festivities were over, Travis, Adolf, and Stanley had a few moments alone and congratulated each other for a job well done.

Adolf says to the other two, “We still on for Friday night down at the church?”

Travis replies, “Damn straight! We’re still brothers in the Triple K Klub.”

Stanley steps in, “Goodie! This is my week to bring snacks! It’ll be a surprise! Can I come, Adolf?”

“Stanley, you’re a brother and always will be. Of course, you can come, we’ll give you an age waiver to stay a member.”

“Yippee!” Then he kissed Adolf right on the mouth!

After Adolf got over the shock, he and Travis were overheard saying, “Can’t wait for the surprise. Probably more Quiche!”

Travis crossed his arms and grinned and asked Adolf if Stanley was a good kisser?

In a disgusted response, he said, “Shut up, Travis, and don’t tell the other guys!”

“I won’t, I promise.”

The two parted ways to mingle with the crowd.

As Travis was walking along, Adolf overhears him.

“Stanley and Adolf sitting in a tree, K-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes…,”

Adolf yells, “Cut it out Travis! I’ll get you!”

As it turns out, the TripleK-BlayDay parade was the most celebrated parade Port Summerville had ever hosted. Though a success, sadly it was the first and last TripleK-BlayDay parade.

I can’t get enough of this.

 

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