anatomy of a short conversation
when i came home from my first year at college, my grandmother looked through the photos of all of my new friends. don’t you have any white friends? i thought about it and the answer was no. she looked disappointed as if i was the living failure of dr. king’s dream.
in a previous life, i didn’t really have time for idiocy. so if i even caught a glimpse of a mouth formed in that special pose, just on the brink of something ignorant being said i was already 10 feet in the other direction to tell "family" what this white fool just said.
now i have more free time. to have conversations like this one.
curtain rise. enter stage right.
so are you an Ausländer?
this was the beginning of the conversation, the head so to speak. the eyes, ears, nose and mouth were putting together german and english words in the same sentence. this is a no-no. with 2 exceptions. 1. you are really quadralingual+ and can’t think of the right word. otherwise it’s not cute. 2. there is a previous established relationship involving the juxtaposition of words from different languages. otherwise i’m not going to understand what the hell you are saying.
at 2.5 seconds into the conversation, i was already wondering. i took 15 seconds to do some pondering. sure it’s theoretically possible that i’m a native German, that i’ve grown up here and just happened to be sitting at a table with 100% foreign nationalities but it’s not all that likely. negative point range for ignoring the realm of probability and the racial factor and for not asking the obvious question "where are you from?" rules of icebreaking – keep it simple. if you want to ask, are you an… just don’t. how many countries, careers, neighborhoods, political leanings, sexual preferences exist? most often, you will be WRONG.
in my previous life, i would have already been at the bar.
we move into the body, standard interrogation. where are you from?
a question that seems perfectly logical and rational.
his reaction to hearing New York. So where in New York, the Bronx?
clocking in at 5 seconds, we are dangling out on the tip of someone’s pinky finger. do I look like I’m from the Bronx? what does a person from the Bronx look like? maybe I have a Bronx accent? am I wearing a t-shirt that says Bronx Zoo? this definitely scores more points in the negative range. leaving out the random borough would have been fine. i’m still thinking about the bar.
looking forward to the coda. feet. walking away. so were you in New York for the RNC? this garnered a priceless what the fuck look. who speaks in acronyms about random American political events, especially when you are not even from the States, especially the Republican National Convention? this and launching into a story about taxicabs sealed permanent negative status.
i’m not sure why the majority of people, upon hearing you are from New York, think it’s an opportune moment to talk about 9-11, tell a story about getting mugged, how NYers are evil, nice, cool, how NY is horrible, completely unliveable, or the greatest city in the world. what would be the appeal of these stories for someone who is actually from NY? after a lifetime’s worth of my own stories in New York, i need to be saddled with yours too?
i think about becoming a nun at a convent with a strict order of silence. i feel a sudden welling up of compassion for all of the single people in the world. i’m rendered speechless.
exit stage left.
do not play again.