Par Ramey is a ‘native plant’ born in Athens, GA. Her roots, constantly received rainwater and branched out into other parts of the United States. Travel takes up a lot of her free time touring countries on her own terms circumventing tourist traps and venues. Although starting life as a teacher, then as a police detective, Par came into her own working two years as a journalist for the Ft. Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel in South Florida, and locally as a news reporter at the Athens Banner Herald. Par also wrote for Athens Magazine and she spent a year as an on-air news reporter for WBKZ Radio. Her essay, Hidden In Full View, received honorable mention and is included in the Kress Project Book, published by Georgia Museum of Art. The Kress Project was an international juried art competition, a two-year initiative celebrating the 50th anniversary of the museum’s Samuel H. Kress Study Collection.
Par has a B.A. degree in English, an M.S. degree in reading. She is a certified Master Gardener, certified in Georgia Native Plants and for nothing more than fun, after graduating from college, also graduated from the Barbizon School of Modeling in New York City in order to procrastinate writing the great American novel. After 40 years of taking a huge yoga breath – it’s now time to write and stop imitating Rodin’s – ‘The Thinker’.
Writing Sample: First Taste of Pizza
(from her upcoming book of collected short stories, Human: A Lunch Counter Of Gifts , by Par Ramey)
I saw the waiter moving closer to our table in the small Italian café in Manhattan where we’d gone to dine after leaving an evening choir rehearsal. He was carrying something above his head that looked like an oversized wooden board with steam coming from the top. My sister, older by 10 years, was living and working in New York and we visited her every summer.
As a treat, she wanted to take her four younger siblings to a real restaurant because we weren’t allowed to go out as a family and eat in restaurants in Athens during segregation because we weren’t normal – white.
Sometimes we could – but my father wouldn’t allow us to do so because it was called by blacks during that time – going to the back door of restaurants to get food at interior room prices. He said we didn’t stand around our dinner table eating and we weren’t going to stand around the white man’s back door begging and paying him real money because we weren’t – normal.
I’d never been inside a real restaurant before with whites and blacks carrying on as if – ‘so what’ – was the human thing to do. I’d only stood on the threshold of places in the South watching the ‘normal folks’ holding up ‘stop signs’ with writings that screamed, ‘don’t drink out of this fountain, don’t use this bathroom, colored’s aren’t allowed in here or in here, or in here.’
I forgot about Athens. Here in this little cafe in New York, no one acted normal; they all just acted human.
And human – to New Yorkers meant – pizza. I’d never tasted pizza before. I wasn’t human but was about to be.
The fragrance in the cafe was intoxicating to a 12-year old girl. But once the Italian waiter put the pepperoni pizza in the middle of the table I cringed. I was looking at what looked like the regurgitated insides of someone’s bloodied body. I wasn’t convinced the concoction was eatable and looked around for the dead body belonging to this mess of red and whitish/yellowish gluey globs of microscopic threads winding throughout. Did someone throw up or blow their nose and the result was what was in the middle of our table?
My culturally advanced older sister seemed delighted and I deferred to her superior knowledge of such things. The Coca-Cola on the table in pear-shaped glasses was the only food item I recognized on the square table covered in red and white checkers. On closer inspection I realized the pizza had been cut in sectional triangles. I surveyed the creative mess trying to find a slice that didn’t have those yellowish gluey globs of microscopic threads winding throughout. My sister, Susie, picked up a slice and the point of the triangle immediately flopped downward. The globby threads started pirouetting in all directions and it was absolutely disgusting looking to say the least.
Susie actually put it in her mouth after tossing the pointed triangle (that had dangled down) to the top, in a movement that would rival any Olympic pizza flipper. She quickly bit off the tip of the triangle. I noticed there were more stringy globs going everywhere. She indicated she wanted us to get a slice and my siblings tucked in reaching for individual slices, completely trusting our older sister’s lead.
I waited. I scanned the remaining triangles looking for something that resembled anything I’d consumed while being raised in Georgia like sweet potatoes, green beans, scrambled eggs, fried catfish – anything. But, sadly nothing was recognizable. However, I finally found something that had more red than whitish/yellowish globs and my eyes flashed to my sister and then to my siblings. The scent of fresh tomatoes assailed me and I closed my eyes, said a prayer and took a bird-like peck at the extreme tip…