Maya Angelou recently donated 343 boxes of her papers to the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. At the accompanying ceremony/talk, she told a story about a time that she and James Baldwin went to a bar in New York. Baldwin picked her up in a limo and they went to a bar on 44th Street:
“A bar that smelled of Lysol and urine.”
Angelou went to the bar to get drinks while Baldwin went to the restroom.
A “big man, giant man” walked up to her, and inches from her face, told her he was going to buy her a drink. The man didn’t care whatsoever that Angelou was with someone or that she kept saying she didn’t want a drink.
When Baldwin – described by Angelou as “5’5”, if that – on wedges” – returned, he said to the burly guy, “You’ve been looking after her, have you?”
The man said yes.
Baldwin replied, “Well, now you’re dismissed, mother f—-er!”
Hearing the 82-year-old poet say that brought down the house.
That made me laugh out loud.