You probably know by now that I’m married to a white guy. Ethnically, he’s a mix of Scottish, English, and like one-eighteenth Cherokee (which I’m like, that’s so little, do we really have to mention it? It’s like a touch of bourbon in a vanilla cake). But in any case, he deals with racism of a different sort. People sometimes make racist jokes or comments to him and assume he’s cool with it.
He’s a pretty enlightened man as it, but since we got together, he’s become even more aware about ethnic/racial things, because….he is married to me and I talk and think about these things, as my friends will tell you, a lot. (In many ways, I’m still the fourth grader from Staten Island who played Golda in “Fiddler on the Roof” and have been a committed secular Jew since, but I’ve also since noticed…that I’m Asian.) Like at this garage sale we ran at my parents’ old house, this guy came up to my husband, looking for my dad.
“Hey, where’s that old Chinese guy?”
My husband bristled visibly and replied in a crisp tone.
“He’s not Chinese, and he’s my father-in-law.”
(Ahh, this spouse of mine continually warms my heart. In a way, that garage sale made him feel more like blood than our wedding, but that’s another long story.)
Back to assumptions. He had a co-worker who made Asian jokes a ton–Indian accents, a lot of them ending with the punch line of how Asians really dig fish and sea food. (I have no idea, I wasn’t there, but you get the picture.) Every time this guy made these jokes, David would come home and fume. I was like, “He’s just some douche bag, who cares?” (See Matt Damon? Douche bag.) Sometimes, as my pal Kris Malone’s dad says, being in the world is like being on constant a-hole patrol, why not chill? But if it were something that really bugged him, I instructed my husband to open his mouth. I was always impressed with how my friend Calvin Chin handled racist comments thrown our way when we walked down the street. He didn’t make a big deal, but would stop and look them in the eye and ask “Excuse me? Did you say something to me?” as cool as can be and the perpetrator would kind of gulp.
My husband was so pent-up by the time he opened his mouth, I think he exploded and Douchebag smiled and apologized, said there was no way he was racist and that my husband took it the wrong way, and that he’d loved to meet me, whah, whah, whah, whaaaaah. So the next time there was a work function, I was busy by the buffet table, stuffing myself with shrimp when Douchebag introduced himself. And my only thought was Great, why do I have to be eating seafood the first time he meets me?