Sunday, November 29, 2009

Do you have any chocolate?

I was out having a few cocktails with a friend the other night…and by cocktails, I mean tater skins and mozzarella sticks…What?…They’re really good! We were laughing and having a great time as we listened to the band. After my friend finished one of the courses from our well-balanced meal of grease, carbohydrates and dairy, she asked the waiter, “Do you have any chocolate?”…He seemed confused as he looked at her and then back to me and asked me, “Is she trying to make me blush?”…Just then, I noticed that he was of African American decent. I looked to her as she scooped the last piece of bacon off the plate and then back to him. I giggled and replied, “Um. No. I think she really just wants some chocolate.” He left to get her a menu…When he returned he said, “we have everything on here accept the angel food cake.” I asked politely, “Is that a white thing?”…He laughed and walked away. My friend and I laughed all night about it. It had never been her intention to come off as flirty with this young 20-something waiter. Had we given him the wrong impression?…and by wrong impression, I mean one where he would think that we were out looking for young black guys to pick up for the evening? I drifted into one of my pondering mental states as I thought, “geez…we have got to lay off the cheese!”

I wondered if the miscommunication was our problem or his? Maybe he was so used to being identified as “black”, that it’s something he naturally draws attention to. We all do things like that. If we have some sort of insecurity that we are wondering people are noticing, we drag the elephant to the center of the room and call attention to it so no one thinks that we aren’t aware of it. For example, if for some reason I get a blemish on my face, instead of using a little bit of cover up and pretending that it’s not there, without hesitation I’ll say to a room full of people the second I enter, “Yeah! I’m here…and I brought this ridiculous zit that I grew over night that I can barely see you over due to the fact that it has it’s own zipcode!…Well! That puts an end to the snickering water cooler talk about whether I knew I had a blemish or not! Clearly I knew and there was no need for them to speak amongst themselves about it later. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not comparing a zit to being African American. I’m comparing defense mechanism to defense mechanism. It’s like the overweight comedian who always needs to tell fat jokes. Yeah…they are funny…but the only reason he is poking fun at himself is to keep others from being able to hurt with it later. It does go to show though, that what we notice in ourselves is far more critical than what others notice about us. Possibly we’re giving people ammunition to hurt us by trying to diffuse their ability to hurt us?…I think I’m going to try to just let go of drawing attention to things I’m hard on myself about. Judging from the really heavy lady’s reaction in the mall to my comment about how I’m getting fat because I’m wearing a size 6 right now, people aren’t taking it the right way!…and no…I don’t need any chocolate thank you!