Saturday, June 19, 2010

White Lady with the Bread

The streets and subways of New York City offer the potential for interacting with a wide array of people. Last weekend I met a sous chef in Astoria who helped me navigate my way to the Upper West Side, saw a man rolling a blunt at 3 am on the subway, and was told by a stranger on the street that I was a beautiful girl. But the most interesting interaction by far was being serenaded on the 3 last Sunday.

Before getting on the train, my sister, Sonya, her boyfriend, Patrick, and I picked up some delicious baked goods for a quick breakfast. Patrick got an enormous, warm chocolate and peanut butter cookie, Sonya grabbed a whole wheat raisin roll, and I opted for a sourdough roll. We boarded the train with our snacks in hand and stood near a door—with one of my hands on a rail and the other grasping the tasty roll with a crusty exterior and soft center. As I stood there enjoying my bread an older black man set an amp down on the floor of the train in front of us and sat down on it with his guitar.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced, “I’m going to sing a song now. This one goes out the lady standing next to me—the white lady with the bread. And you know what your song is, white lady with the bread? It’s this one right here!”

And then those unmistakable notes were strummed on his guitar—dun, dun, da, da, da, da….dun, dun, da, da, da, da… “I got sunshine, on a cloudy day!” he burst out singing, “when it’s cold outside, I got this white lady with the bread—look at her, you know she got a college brain!”

Wow. I stood there—is this actually happening right now? I couldn’t help but smile and laugh.

“Come on, everybody, sing along!” he shouted, “Even the white people!!” And he entered into the chorus. “I guess you’d say,” and then a bunch of us on the train jumped in, “What can make me feel this way?”

“White lady with the bread, you’re my girl, my girl, my girl. Talkin’ ’bout my girl, my girl!”

“I’ve got so much honey, the bees envy me. I’ll bet this white lady with the bread’s got a college degree. I guess you’d say—everybody sing along—what can make me feel this way? My girl, talkin’ ’bout my girl, the pretty white lady with the bread, won’t you be my girl, my girl, my girl!”

But it didn’t end there.

“Now,” he said as the song ended, “for the white lady with the bread’s friend standing next to her.”

“Sister,” I corrected him.

“Her sister! For you, I’ve got another special song. For you, I’ll be there. For you, I’d even bring Michael Jackson back! Just call my name, and I’ll be there…Now if this guy with the water bottle next to you is your boyfriend, then you should know that he’s got another girlfriend back home. But he’ll still take you there. And if he doesn’t,” he paused, “I’ll be there.”

“Just call my name,” he continued, “Everyone sing along, even the white people, I’ll be there! Well don’t you know, baby yeah, if you need me, we can go back to my place and drink champagne out of mason jars—just call my name, and I’ll be there, I’ll be there.”

As he finished up the song he announced, “Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I’ll accept any donation. It’s appreciated—I’ll take money, water bottles, child molest—I mean child support money,” and he made his down the train, “college credits, food stamps…anything.”

So, if you see this man on the subway, please throw him a buck or two, because as the white lady with the bread, he sure made my day.

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