Five Bags of Ice

My Grandfather’s Son is Clarence Thomas’ autobiography up to confirmation as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Jack asked me if I wanted to read his copy, that he got from Clarence.
I read it like a thriller, because it was. Some of the people who illuminated Clarence’s quest of becoming his grandfather’s son were some of the same people who had given me instruction for becoming a man. We went to different schools together.
About halfway through the book I thought, “I’m not necessarily believing what Clarence says about himself, because if I was writing it, I would make me look as good as I could.”
Clarence could have, but he didn’t. Better were his observations about the people around him.
He lost his wallet and John Bolton found it. I already like John.
One time, when he was perpetually broke, Clarence found a wallet with $600 in it. Called the owner, who came by and was graceless. Thinking it through, Clarence figured out that his financial needs or the owner’s social skills didn’t have anything to do with the rightness of returning the wallet. I liked that lesson.
His relationships with Jack Danforth and Joe Biden might not have taught me a lot about Clarence, but they showed me volumes about Jack Danforth and Joe Biden.
So what do I know about Clarence Thomas?
Jack’s son and Clarence’s son went to the same school. The parents were holding a fundraiser, Jack was honchoing some activities.
Clarence comes up, says, “I’m volunteering. What do you need right now?”
Jack says he could use five bags of ice.
Clarence says, “It’s coming,” and disappears.
A short time later he trots in with five bags of ice.
Jack says, “Give me your receipt, and I’ll get you reimbursed.” Clarence gives Jack the same look Jack would have shot at someone who offered to reimburse him an incidental expense at a fundraiser.
Add that to the book and it’s everything I need to know about Clarence Thomas.
If you’re looking to feel better about being a human being, go read My Grandfather’s Son.

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