Summer of 66
It was the summer of 66. My first job, A.G. Becker & Co. on Wall Street, well, really Broad Street but that was close enough. Seventy-five dollars a week payable every other week, more money than I’d ever seen, and for the first time in my life I was helping out financially at home. I was proud, a little arrogant, and very foolish. Kind of wondered whether I really needed any more education, what with 75 bucks a week and all, but my real foolishness was elsewhere, and it involved incredible insensitivity.
There was a girl I liked, I met her on the El (elevated railway system in NYC, I used to get on at 168th Street), I think her name was Dianne. In her spare time she was a go-go dancer, a rage then, but held down a responsible job in the Wall Street area. She had a girlfriend who sometimes rode the El with us, a very attractive and obviously intelligent black girl and one day we got to talking about the names we liked. For some unfathomable reason I picked Jefferson Davis, I realized my blunder as the words were leaving my lips but there was nothing I could think to do about it without making it worse. I don’t think I ever saw them again. I wish I had, I really liked them both.
It wasn’t that I was bigoted, I don’t think I ever was, at least racially, I was just very much into history, Civil War history at the time (I had just finished my sophomore year at the Citadel), and obviously naïve as well as oblivious. I hadn’t learned to think before I spoke very well but I think I improved a lot after that experience.
It’s only that, — after forty-four years I wish I had a way to find them both, and to apologize.
 © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2010; all rights reserved