Please, just stop it.

​I find myself to be the only Black person in a lot of situations. Today, I’m the only one at a strategic planning meeting.  During the break, a man tried really hard to find common ground with me. He had Virginia stories and fish out of water stories, and then he did the thing that makes me cringe the most. It was like nails on a chalkboard. I wanted to stop him before the words came out of his mouth and walk away. I knew it was coming and there was nothing polite I could do to prevent it.

He held up his hand and began to count. “I have a Black son-in-law. He’s a nice guy. I also have a Guatemalan son-in-law. Wait, not Guatemala. Where is he from? Oh well, it’s one of those countries.  Their wives love them and I have brown eyed grandchildren.”

I know he was trying relate to me. I know he wanted to communicate that he thought he had some understanding of who I am. That was certainly not the way to do it.

Sir, I’m a person, just like you. My skin is different than yours. My culture is different than yours. As a result, my experience and perspective is different from yours. Telling me of the collection of non-white people in your life does not mean that you can relate to my life from a racial perspective. Please, just stop it. 

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Better At Home

Today has been almost a completely fabulous day. It was the first day in quite awhile that no one expected anything from me and neither did I. Well, that’s not completely true. Matilda expected to be walked, fed, and cuddled, but other than that, I was free to do absolutely nothing. The only voices I heard were mine and those coming from the television. Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia kept me company during the morning,  and the Fox football commentators talked at me in the afternoon. 

I didn’t have any debilitating aches, pains, or fatigue today, so I could do anything I wanted to do.  Instead of cleaning the bathroom or the fridge, folding laundry or putting away dishes, I chose to do absolutely nothing.

And I reveled in the nothingness. 

I let the pure joy of the nothingness cuddle up with me under layers of blankets and quilts while I listened to the wind whip and howl through the trees.  There were no thoughts of “I should” or “Maybe I oughta”.  No “I wonder why he hasn’t called” or “I hope she’s ok”. Just blank, empty nothingness while I chuckled at one of Rose’s St. Olaf stories.

After lunch, I was inspired to work on a piece that I haven’t touched in awhile. Today, I completely finished the “o” and just about finished the “v” before the difficulty in pulling the needle threatened to steal my nothingness. 

It was at about that time when Matilda decided it was time to go outside. We took a twenty minute stroll in what felt like 20 mile per hour winds and I bopped to the “Hamilton” soundtrack playing on a loop in my head. (Wasn’t Lin-Manuel Miranda awesome on SNL last night?!)

I didn’t feel like cooking dinner, so after a quick check of my bank account, I decided to go out to dinner. I went to my least favorite restaurant in town because they have my most favorite dessert right now, chocolate lava cake. 

Right away, I regretted my choice of restaurant. My waiteess was trying too hard and repeated everything I said.

“Have you been here before?”

“I have.”

“You have. Great! Do you know what you’d like to drink?”

“Water with lemon, please.”

“Water with lemon. Great! I’ll be right back with that.”

People can be so damn annoying. My beautiful nothingness began to erode.

My meal was horrible. My fries were barely warmed over and my shrimp might have been fried yesterday. This place is consistently bad. Why do I come here? After the N-word incident at the bar that my friend experienced, I swore off this place. I need to resume my boycott. I wonder if the food is only bad for the Black customers?  My beautiful nothingness was crumbling like a glacier in the summer.

Dessert was supposed to be the thing that redeemed the meal, but the ice cream was filled with big chunks of ice. Before I could get a spoonful into my mouth, the waitress brings the check and says, “No rush. Whenever you’re ready.” Yeah right, I know you want me outta here. The fragile ruins of my nothingness now stood like the remains of a forest fire.

I high-tailed it back home, plopped on the couch and instantly my nothingness began to regenerate.

I never should have left the house today.