Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Talking with Feet in My Mouth, Part I

A long summer had ended, and with that my lease did too. In celebration of the three long years I had lived in this residence, my roommates thought it was appropriate to throw one last hurrah before I left. After the fiesta, complete with enchiladas, salsa and margaritas, the girls invited their beaus over for drinks following our Mexican binge.
They came in slowly, one by one. However, Rozalin, an interim roommate who filled a sublease, invited her boyfriend, along with posse. His stooges, two boys of no consequence, followed right behind him. Patrick was 6’2” with pale complexion and blond hair. But his skin was covered in tattoos. His baggy clothing hung off his sturdy frame, and he spoke with an Ebonic-spattered vocabulary. As it turns out, I’m as Gap as can be. I’ve learned not to judge a thug by his bling.
Being at this party, I found myself obligated to put the guests at ease with conversation. However, this time, I was batting in a strikeout game. I decided to ask some questions. “So Patrick, what does that Chinese character on you arm mean?”
He responds, “Dream.”
After explaining how he had a real Chinese person draw it, I say, “I think people with tattoos in characters should put it in English beneath it, so the rest of us can find it just as meaningful.”
The group doesn’t like this. Strike one. I guess they didn’t hear the sarcasm in my voice. So I sat quietly, hoping someone would come up with a new topic of conversation.
Another roommate called across the room, “Hey Patrick, how’s your mom?” Before this moment, I didn’t know they knew each other, and family adds a whole new dimension. After interviewing my roommate with questions like, “How do you know Patrick?” “We went to grade school together,” and “How do you know his mom,” “She was my softball coach,” I paused. I found something we could all discuss: sexuality.
“Patrick, is your mother a lesbian?” I ask, shrugging my shoulders and speaking in a really sarcastic voice, played up because last time no one knew I was joking. I expected a reply of, “No.” However, the strong man, with black ink flowing through his veins, answered as if I had aired out dirty jockeys from his gym bag, “Yes.” Strike two.
A vacuum sucked the air from the room, and all eyes shoot to me. Mind you, I was using stereotypes, not meaning any harm. With this, questions fly to me, “How did you know that? You’ve never met Patrick before. Why would you ask that question?” I answer, “Sometimes softball players are lesbians,” again shrugging and trying to soften the blow. “Joy, there are a lot of people who like softball.”
I reply, “And they’re called lesbians.” Strike three; I’m out.

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