He turns the pages of books And examines the poems there Saying my god All this has already been written
On this day that is meant to be a paean to love (even if it’s the most commercial farce of the year), all I can think about is hate.
I felt relieved, almost smug, if deluded, to believe (did I ever really believe?) that we lived in a time (or were closer to living in a time) beyond petty hatred and discrimination based on things like skin color or religion. I have never been able to understand the existence of this kind of hatred, the crippling inferiority and fear that it betrays. But then I have watched as suddenly all the closet racists, xenophobes and other bile-filled hate zealots became empowered to voice their inner hatred, perpetrate great violence openly – as late as 2017. Is this the new normal?
No, there is nothing new or normal about it.
Most stunning (but is it really stunning?) of all is realizing how deeply racist and – worse – fearful – people are – people I never would have imagined being racist, xenophobic or anti-Islam show themselves to be. I suppose I have been a hopeless fool for imagining that things were anywhere near being otherwise. In my current state of mind – the February doldrums – I only seem able to see the very worst. I can’t let this pull to defeatist gloom win – but my god, the pull is strong.
Sometimes many years pass between having contact with people. So much time passes, in fact, that when your mind’s Rolodex (and yeah, old-style folks like me have a mental Rolodex rather than some slick electronic device or database) hits upon someone from the past, good or bad, it does seem like such a length of time has passed that it is unlikely you will ever talk to them again.
One such person, for me, was a friend/roommate I had in Iceland about 15 years ago. Our lives have moved forward in very different ways, and after about 2004, we did not talk much – a few times between 2004 and 2008. But I moved to Norway and I don’t think we had so much as one conversation after that.
Tonight, he was sitting in the airport in my hometown and rather randomly thought of me after all this time and gave me a call. Nice to catch up, of course, but the point of all this (and this is something I had sort of forgotten about him – this unintentional humor. Not unintentional humor of the Road House variety. Unintentional humor that he is fully in on/understands, i.e. he does something silly, sticks his foot in his mouth and immediately gets that whatever it was was not smart… but he can laugh about it).
During our call, he was sitting in the airport talking loudly, saying, “All the cashiers at the burger place are Asian women. I think they found something more they could do than just work in massage parlors.”
Then there was a pause, and he said in a very serious, matter of fact way, like he was going to change the subject, and say something like, “I learned you have to take a little subway to get to the other terminal.” But instead he deadpanned, “I just learned that I cannot say things like that out loud.”
I burst out laughing so hard and could not stop, imagining the disapproving dirty looks people were giving him for his loud, unintentionally racist commentary. HAHAHAHA. Too much.
Not that racism of any kind is funny – it was imagining the setting – this guy oblivious to everyone around him, saying everything that came to mind – kind of the danger of mobile devices. People tend to forget to censor themselves.
And for kicks…
About other people I have not seen in years – but in this case keep up with on social media – a former colleague recently posted an article, “I Have Dwarfism and It Shouldn’t Be Awkward to Talk About It”. The article delves into the subtle and not so subtle forms of discrimination people with dwarfism may face beyond just that general awkwardness people feel talking about it – or talking to them about it, rather.
Good article, and it brought to mind an unrelated news article I had seen a few days ago. The writer of the article on dwarfism stated, “I often think that it’s a good job the Metropolitan Police don’t operate a policy of ‘size profiling’. If they did, life would be constantly interrupted by being stopped and searched, mistaken for someone else who wasn’t me; they just fitted the description: white, male, and under 4’6”. To be clear: this is not about dwarfs like myself being more likely to commit crime than average height people.”
In the news article I read, a woman asks a gas station clerk for help because her boyfriend (who is outside the store) has terrorized and abused her. How the aforementioned dwarfism article, though, sprang to mind is because it states, “Dean (the gas station attendant) looked out to the car and saw a familiar face. He didn’t know the name, but he knew the man. He says it was Mark Francis Valucus. Valucus is especially distinctive because he is small; 4 feet, 3 inches.”
After reading the dwarfism article, I wondered if the store clerk actually recognized a ‘familiar face’ or, like the guy in the dwarfism article posits, “all people with dwarfism look the same”.