Monday, November 30, 2015

#GreyMatters


The following post is about two ah-ha moments I had in my life. An "ah-ha" moment is when you learn a lesson. It's when a light bulb that was always inside your mind finally gets lit. The two ah-ha moments I will talk about happened about 15 years apart but little did I know they were actually intertwined...


The Unvite

The first one happened roughly 15 years ago. Back then I was extremely paranoid, and that's putting it lightly. In fact the title of this blog, They're All Against Me, is a little nod to my past; it's me poking fun at my (mostly) former paranoid self. 

I remember one time my close friends, Tyler, Mac, Max, and Nacho invited me to come chill in the park. "Sure," I replied via text. This is it, I thought to myself. They are planning to jump me. Why I would think they were planning on jumping me for no reason in broad day light in the most public of places I have no idea, but then paranoia lacks logic by definition.

I threw on a muscle shirt, my Dickies shorts, my chucks, and headed to the park. I walked up to where I saw them all chilling on a bench flexing my arms as I walked. I wanted to send a message: "yes I know what's coming, and I ain't scared!"


I always flex my arms when going to my own gang raping


BRICK
Sup.

MAC
Sup fool. Sit down.

TYLER
Why you looking all pissed off like you wanna fight someone?

BRICK
You mean you guys actually just wanted to chill?

MAC
Yeah. Why, what were you thinking?

BRICK
I thought you guys wanted to jump me.

MAC
What the fuck? Are you serious? Why would we wanna jump you???

BRICK
*shrugs shoulders*

NACHO
Sit down, crazy. No one's gonna jump you. I don't think we should keep hanging out with this guy. He might shank us all one of these days.

TYLER
You're fucking nuts, Brick. We've been friends for how long now? And you think we wanna jump you? Sheeze..

MAC
Oh hey, what are you doing tonight?

BRICK
Nada.

MAC 
J Lo (not the actress) called me. She's having a graduation party at her cousin Rosie's house. She told me to invite you.

BRICK
Really?

MAC
Yeah, but she said you're gonna hafta figure out transportation for yourself. Cause her car's already gonna be full.

BRICK
Oh riiiigght. "Car's gonna be full," I get what you're saying...

MAC 
Hopefully you do, Brick. Because I was speaking English and I didn't use any big words.

BRICK
Shut up, fucker.


That night I stayed in wallowing in self pity, wondering why everyone always hates me. I didn't go to the graduation party with my friends where I pictured them all having a great time and talking mad shit about me.

  A talk-shit-about-Brick party? Those are the best kind...



The next day, J Lo actually showed up at the video store I worked at. She stared me down with her soul-piercing eyes.


J LO
So you better have a damn good explanation for why you didn't show up to my graduation party! You knew that shit was important to me!!

BRICK
Oh, you actually wanted me to come?

J LO
I invited you didn't I??

BRICK
Yeah but I thought it was a fake invite.

J LO
What??

BRICK
Well you didn't directly invite me, you told Mac to invite me. And when he told me you said you couldn't give me a ride, I figured that was your subtle way of saying "I don't actually want you to come."

J LO
Oh my gosh, Brick!! OK first of all, I don't give out fake invites. If I don't want you to come you'll know it cause I'll tell you. Second of all, the only reason I didn't directly invite you is because I called Mac and he told me he was meeting you and Tyler and Nacho in the park. So I told him to invite all you guys. And yes my car was full. You're not my only friends you know! And by the way, he told me that you thought they were all gonna jump you in the park, and you came in walking like you're all fucking bad. Fucking A Brick, do you even know how crazy you come off??

BRICK
I'm so sorry J Lo, I didn't mean to upset you. It's just I figured I was doing you a favor by not showing up to your party that you didn't want me at. Before meeting you guys, I never had true friends. I'm not good at this whole socializing thing.

J LO
*sigh* Brick, what are we gonna do with you? Look, you need to stop worrying about what other people are thinking all the time. If someone invites you, then go. Don't worry about whether or not they genuinely wanted you there. I've been invited by people who were just using me before. I didn't care because I had a good time. I would never have any fun if I kept trying to figure out what other people think about me.



That was my ah-ha moment. Her words rang true and from that day forward I started to change my perspective on how others relate to me. I'm still always going to be a bit paranoid, and I don't think I'll ever quite get the knack of this socializing thing, but the difference is I'm OK with it. I don't get all worked up about the paranoid thoughts in my head - I don't give them any weight.



Mcdees Nuts


My second ah-ha moment came just the other day when I went to a McDonald's in City Terrace. For those of you not from Los Angeles, City Terrace is in the heart of the hood. There aren't a lot of white boys like me over there. In fact, as I walked in to the restaurant full of Mexicans children stared at me like they had never seen a white person in their life. 

I walked up to the counter and ordered an egg mcmuffin (shout out to Mcdees for making breakfast all day long now!). They gave me my receipt with my order number on it. I sat down at a table and patiently waited for my number to be called. I was number 83.


Perfect excuse to throw in some food porn!


Within a few minutes they called number 81. Then they called number 82. I started licking my lips and writhing my hands in anticipation of chowing down on my soon to be obtained egg mcmuffin. Then they called out order 84. The food of the guy who ordered after me got made faster than mine. No big deal that happens all the time. I continued to wait patiently. 

Then they called number 85. OK now I had to go check. I went up to the counter and asked if they had called out my number yet just to be sure. Perhaps they had and I just wasn't paying attention. It wouldn't be the first time. She told me "no, not yet." I sat back down. They proceeded to call number 86, then 87.

Both those orders were big orders with multiple items. There was no way they could prepare both those meals faster than a simple egg mcmuffin. Oh I get whats going on, I thought to myself. This is fucking racism. They think they can just fuck with me because I'm a whiteboy and they're a bunch of racist ass Mexicans.

As a white guy living in LA, this wouldn't be the first time I've experienced racism from Hispanics. I was fuming. Just because my skin is white you treat me like trash? My money's not as good because I'm not from la raza? I got up to go tell them off. Just as I got up the cashier called out number 83.

I walked up the counter and snatched the brown bag out of her hand. She said, "I'm so sorry about the wait, sir. There was a problem with the machine. I threw in a hash brown and an apple crisp for you." At that moment all my anger instantly went out the window and was replaced with humility and compassion. Here this hard working staff was doing their job as best they could, and they have to deal with assholes like me on a daily basis. 

I was so glad she called my number before I had a chance to tell her off. And it was so crucial that she gave me the free items, not because I wanted them but because it proved to me that the long wait was not intentional. OK I'm lying I did want the free food. But that's when I had my second ah -ha moment.

Ah-ha! This is what it feels like to be a constant victim of racism, to feel out numbered by people who you think hate you, to constantly wonder did I not get the job because I'm not the best candidate or is it because the color of my skin? Is that guy staring me down as I walk past his house because he's just always vigilant, or is it because he thinks I'm a thug due to the color of my skin? It could make someone... paranoid.

I had always kind of felt like minorities complain too much about racism. I remember hearing a black girl complain about how growing up the other kids used to call her "coco bar." I thought to myself shit, I wish that was the meanest thing kids ever called me growing up. And I hate hearing about "white privilege." It always makes me want to yell out, "I've had a shitty life too, motherfucker!"

But at that moment standing in front of that cashier, I got it. I understood. Sure even if she had done it on purpose it wouldn't have been that big of a deal. Surely there have been worst things done on account of racism than not making someone's food in a timely manner, but what I mean is I could sympathize with the paranoia aspect.

So how are these two ah-ha moments connected? Well I think it's about middle ground; healing broken ties by being mutually understanding. Maybe white people can understand, as I did, that we don't know what its like to be raised as a product of a racist history. It can be hard to know the difference between perceived racism and actual racism which sadly still exists. And it must be shitty to have to deal with that your whole life, to always be wondering.

And as for minorities, maybe they can share in my first ah-ha moment and say to themselves, "fuck it!" Was it racism? Or some other factor? Does it really make a difference? Who cares what they think. Enjoy your short time on this life. If you are rejected - whatever the reason - don't let it weigh you down. So what if other people are racist? And maybe that wasn't even the case. You never know what's going on in someone else's head and trying to figure it out will drive you nuts.


So here's to these blessings known as ah-ha moments. May there be more to come as God turns on the mental light bulbs setting our grey matter ablaze!!


And here's to heavy handed analogies!!




*Don't forget to check out my book, Moby Brick!







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