Nobody’s Mama

John Edgar Wideman. Hiding Place.

When you finish you bring that bowl up here. That’s all there is and ain’t nothing else. Just set it here by mine. We ain’t got no waitress service here. I don’t like to cook. Never did and never will. Don’t like people talking about my cooking, neither. If people like what I fix they can eat. If they don’t they can leave it setting. Don’t like all that Mother Bess stuff neither. Wish I knew who started that Mother Bess mess. I ain’t nobody’s mama. Was once but that was a million pitiful years ago and ain’t nobody on this earth got the right going around calling me mother now. I told them that. Don’t know how many times I told them. But it’s Mother Bess this and Mother Bess that like I ain’t got sense enough to know my own name and they ain’t got sense to listen when I tell them I ain’t nobody’s mama.

If you think that this diatribe is gratuitous, you need to be mindful of the step and fetchit grinning and praise of the soup that preceded this: “You make some dynamite soup, Mother Bess. It’s not him talking. it’s some jive jack-leg preacher grinning and wiping grease from his liver lips and rolling his eyeballs at the platter of fried chicken he’s already eateh half of…”

And so for day 2071

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