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I’m riding the other bus in Nashville -the bus that most working class people ride. I take it because it cost 2.00 as opposed to 20.

Its the bus that tourists don’t use. So, I stand out.
The bus driver says in that lovely Southern drawl, “M’am the tour bus is coming along in a minute.”
I say, “No, its okay. I can take THIS bus. ”
I make my way down the aisle and take a seat toward the back. I look out the window at the other Nashville.
Then some young teens in school uniforms board: they are chatting and laughing loudly and flop down on the seat ahead of me. One young girl looks back at me and then does a second take and says,
” Hello m’am. You know this is NOT the tour bus.”
” Thanks, I am okay.”.
A small wiry black man looks at me and laughs and as he is about to say “M’am..you know…
I interrupt him
“Yes I know.”

He laughs and says, “Oh I get it. Are you European? You have that British European air.”

“Oh no. Sorry. I am from Canada,” I say, fixing my dramatic Pashmina scarf.
He seems to relax.
“Canada. I love you Canadians. You people got it going on.”
“I like Nashville. ”
” Its okay. Its not home. I am from Louisiana. I am from the Bayou. ”
“Oh.” I say, in that sophisticated European way I am becoming known for.
” I love to cook Cajun.” he says.
” What kind of Cajun food do you cook?”
“Oh, are pancakes Cajun?”
“No. Pancakes are just pancakes.”
“No, I mean. Like, what do you add to them that makes them Cajun?”

“I am Cajun. I make pancakes. That makes them Cajun pancakes.”

“Oh.” I smile, that too big a smile that is retro-fitted for my foot to enter.
He is Southern. The manners are ever present. He feels the pressure to come up with something to make me feel okay.
” I do sometimes add nutmeg.”
“Well that sounds delicious. I have added cinnamon…
“Cinnamon is bitter.”
“Do you find that?”
“Nutmeg is a confusing taste in the mouth.”
And then for the next hour, we talked about war, and guns and how its ruining his country. I pull the ringer to stop. And as I gather up my stuff I drop a pamphlet and he leans in and whispers.
” Do you want to get a drink?”
“Oh my. No. Sorry, I mean that’s sweet of you, but I am going to see Vince Gill. But, thanks. Sorry. Sorry.”

” Okay m’am. I don’t beg no woman.”

And as the bus pulls away, I look at the store front and see a sign that says ” We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”
When I look up to gather my bearings and see that I am standing at corner of Broadway and Rosa Parkes Blvd.

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