Friday, April 29, 2005

Stupid Theresa Story # 2:

Is That Your White Girl in the Pile of Coats?

This is the second of the Stupid Theresa Stories. Don't worry, I honestly don’t think I’m stupid. But damn if I haven’t had my head up my ass once or twice as a little challenge to that statement. The following story is probably about the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done.

The first University I attended was in my hometown. The only reason I went there was because I was heavily recruited by the music department and they offered me a scholarship. I studied music until it became blatantly apparent to everyone that I’m a people-person and keeping me trapped in a practice room for 6 hours a day for the next 4 years was nothing short of torture.

The following year I transferred to a small liberal arts college outside Chicago. I lived in the dorms and my roommate was a black woman from a predominantly black neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. You couldn’t have found two Americans with more diverse backgrounds to put in a room together. Generally we got along great and I found the experience fascinating.

Missy had a great sense of humor. One of her favorite things to joke about was Me. In particular, she liked to make shit of how naïve I was; how there were more people living on her block than there were in my whole town; and how few Street Smarts I had compared to Book Smarts … Oh, and I can’t forget about her very favorite subject: my White Hot Virginity. Hey! Doesn’t everyone love to have their virginity discussed at length in the dormitory cafeteria on Casserole Night? But, despite it all, she was funny and I’m generally a good sport. We were good friends and spent a lot of time together.

As Thanksgiving rolled around, I realized I was short of cash and enormously busy with dozens of projects. There was no way I was going to be able to go home to be with my family. Missy came to my rescue and invited me to spend the holiday with her family in the City. I was very excited to meet all the people she’d been talking about throughout the semester.

On Thanksgiving day, Missy borrowed a school van to drive in to Chicago for dinner. As she drove, she explained that white people don’t go into her neighborhood. but since I was with her everything would be okay. It was then that I realized that this holiday probably wouldn’t be like the traditional Norwegian Lutheran Thanksgivings back home in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Missy continued the tour by pointing out the places where different gangs had fought over territory. Her own boyfriend had just been released from prison after serving a sentence for manslaughter. He was an officer in one of the gangs. I’d met him once and liked him, but I hated his friends who were always pawing at me and offering to help me out with my virginity problem. Missy and I clearly came from very different places, but what mattered was that we were friends and her family had welcomed me to their home.

As we pulled up in front of Missy’s Mama’s house, I took a deep breath and tried to remember all the manners I needed to be a guest in someone’s home. I knew that people would probably be watching me and I didn’t want to be rude or insulting. I found out how much I was being watched when I stepped out of the van.

As soon as I heard the van door close, two children across the street hollered for their mother and ran inside "Mama, there’s a white lady outside. MaaaMaaaaaa!"

Missy and I both laughed and I followed her up the porch steps and into the foyer of her childhood home. The house was already full when we entered, and there were many greetings and introductions. I was cautious and paid attention to how other people did things. I was hoping to be allowed to observe before being put in the spotlight, however apparently I was too new to ignore. Once the greetings were passed around and the coats were collected, all eyes were on me.

Frantically, my mind searched for the right and proper thing to do. AHA! Gratitude and compliments about Missy’s Mama’s home.

I cleared my throat and said,
"Thank you for inviting me to join your family today. Your home is beautiful. It’s a warm and inviting place to spend the Holiday."

… And I should have shut the fuck up because that was exactly enough to say. But instead, I decided to insert my big head into my equally big ass in front of a room full of strangers … wait, not exactly a room full of strangers … These were the people Missy had been telling what a naïve twit I was during the previous three months. To prove her right, I kept talking ...

Without even bothering to look at a photo on the wall, I turned to Missy and said, "Is that a picture of your Dad?"

The room went perfectly silent … and then the belly laughs started … and then Missy got to make her big announcement, "See
what I mean about this girl? She is the whitest girl I have ever met in my life!"

I turned to look at the photo on the wall again. When the image finally registered in my brain, all the blood left my face and I became even whiter. Indeed my friends, it was a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King.

I spent the next few hours nodding and staring at my feet while I took all the jibing that I richly deserved. It wasn’t so bad, and overall it turned out to be a great day. In fact, later in the evening I ended up making-out with Missy’s gorgeous brother on a pile of guest coats in the back bedroom. I highly recommend copious amounts of kissing and groping with an Airforce Hottie as a remedy for almost any incident involving humiliation.

When I think about that story, I wonder if they still remember it and laugh like I do?

You’d think this kind of thing wouldn’t happen to a girl who was once Black … but that’s a whole
other story .


At 1:50 PM, Blogger Chick said...

I hate when you’re nervous like that...but can’t seem to stop yourself from talking...or should I say blabbering?...’cause it’s not so much that you end up saying anything intelligent at JUST KEEP TALKING! & the more you speak...then less you end up saying. None of it ends up being relevant of makes any sense at the nervousness continues.

I seem to find myself in similar circumstances much too often (like you? White girlie).

At 5:30 PM, Blogger TheAnonymousWoman said...

Thank you so much for making me laugh! I too have been called the whitest white girl and can totally relate.

And btw... making out is pretty much the universal cure for anything.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Clark K. said...

That was too funny! Sometimes it takes just saying something stupid, intentional or not, to break the ice and then everythings cool. Me I ususally just clam up and say nothing when I'm nervous. So in a way i envy your ability to put your foot in your mouth...

At 12:06 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Chick - I've always been certain that if you and I ever got together we would get into a whole lot of trouble ... the really naughty-laugh-our-asses-off-afterwards kind of course!

Anonymouswoman - I needed another white girl around back in those days. Right after the winter break I got recruited to the campus gospel choir. Not only was I the only white girl, but I was also the only one who couldn't sing ... or dance ... or even clap properly ... and they expected me to do all 3 at the same time! Jeez!

Man inthe Middle - How do you manage to make me look good when I fall on my face? That takes talent. I think I owe you another beer ... after the race of course.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Ron Southern said...

But where is Lu? Is she a figment of your imagination or did she go off and form a splinter group?

At 11:30 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Ron - You aren't the first to suspect that Lu is a figment of my imagination. However, I believe we need to think of Lu more as a guest-host. She isn't the happy-mad-blogger that I am.

At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Sasha said...

Love the story! Thanks fro the smiles....Even though I'm sure remembering the air force hottie brought a bigger smile to you. *wink*

At 12:30 PM, Blogger That Dude said...



Post a Comment

<< Home