I had been hired by a black woman (probably in her early 40s) who reminded me both of Ms. Boyd (a legal client) and Mrs. Henderson (the mother of one of my juvenile legal clients). She was a fat woman and lived in a house which reminded me of the Grace Street House (the House in New Boston where Birdie lived in the late 1960s). The woman was concerned because her daughter had just started seeing a black boy of whom she didn't approve. The girl was about 13 years old, but looked as if she were 16. She was attractive, slender and fully developed. The woman wanted me to find out what was going on between her daughter and the boy and basically to stop the daughter from seeing the boy.
I found the boy and spoke with him. He seemed rather dissolute, but at least he did talk with me. First he told me he was 14 but finally confessed that he was 16. He reminded me of Mrs. Henderson's son.
The next day I went to talk with the mother at her house. Her daughter was present. I suggested that she, her daughter, the boy and I meet and talk. The mother said the boy might think she was approving of his relationship with her daughter if she did that. I said, "Well just because North Vietnam and the United States sat down at the peace table did not mean that they liked each other."
The mother agreed with me. The daughter wanted to make sure she (the daughter) would be there. I said, "Of course she'd be there. Just like in the case of North Vietnam and the United States, there was a representative of the people of Vietnam there, too."
We agreed we would all get together. I then asked the girl how old she thought the boy was. She said, "Fourteen."
But finally she said she also thought he was 16. The actual age of the boy seemed to be a big factor in the entire situation.
I tried to think about where we could meet. At first I thought we could just meet here at the woman's house but then thought meeting here wouldn't be good because we wanted to meet on neutral ground. A park might be a good place. I thought about a park table. If we sat at such a table and the boy and girl sat on one side while I sat with the mother on the other side, it might appear that I was taking the mother's side. But I wanted to appear neutral at the meeting.
I didn't want to take sides. I only wanted to act as a mediator. For example, I didn't want to put the boy on the defensive by asking him how old he was.
I wasn't certain what kind of table we should have. If we used a park table I should somehow sit at the head of the table.
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