Sunday, September 28, 2008

Product of my environment?

Last night, I let a friend of mine take me; I won’t say drag because I really had nothing better to do, to a Speed Dating fundraiser. My intentions were not to find the man of my dreams; really it was to have an interesting story to tell if I were ever asked about it.

On the way up there, I was not the least bit nervous. This was just something to do to pass the time. I walk in to the room, filled with people who I believe, in different circumstances, would never give me the time of day. But I will also say, I would probably also never notice and might laugh if they ever did. With me standing at 6 foot 3 at this point, I never go anywhere after 7 pm without heels on, and these men averaging 5 foot 8, it would never work. I also noticed that 100% of these men can be classified as White, Asian or some other non African ethnicities. I don’t count the 2 black men in the room because I already knew them. But hey I can’t run out the door screaming and yelling, especially since I didn’t drive. And I have never ruled out dating outside my race, I’ve just never been approached by anyone other than black men.

We are told that we have 4 minutes to get to know the potential mate of our dreams, before we hear a whistle and have to move on to the next victim, I mean date. The whistle blows and we all begin. The first guy tries to break the ice with the typical ice breaker question, “Where are you from?” “I am from Inglewood,” I reply. He looks as if he has never known anyone from that area which is actually a relief for me at that moment because people usually say a lot of weird things to me after finding out where I am from. We continue our banter until the whistle blows and we move on.

The next guy is from Chicago so he didn’t even know where Inglewood was so we didn’t stay on that subject too long. We mostly talked about if I would ever publish my art for other people to see. I do sketch sometimes but my portfolio is off limits to everyone. Not even my own little sister knows about it. She has seen my work from when I was younger but I have never talked about it since then. I shouldn’t be afraid to share something that I love to do but it’s really something I do for me. I don’t do it for profit or for praise and I like to keep it to myself for now. The whistle blows in the middle of his reasoning for sharing and the fun continues.

The next guy is from Redondo Beach. His first question after what is your name is “Where are you from?” I reply, “Inglewood.” He looks at me a bit surprised and yells out “INGLEWOOD always up to no good.” I think he expected me to join in on the debauchery but I was busy trying not to show my repulsion. I knew at this point the rest of our conversation was going to be pretty interesting. Our conversation progresses but not far enough for him to move back to the topic of Inglewood.

“Is what they say true about Inglewood?” There was no way I was going to make this little white man, anything under 6 ‘2’ is little to me by the way, feel comfortable, so I simply replied with, “What do they say?” His obviously uncomfortable reply, “You know,” he pauses for a second. “Have you seen the movie ‘THE WOOD’?” “Yes,” I reply. At this point I don’t know if I should be offended or applaud his balls. I know what some people say and some of it is true, but how can I handle this conversation and not feel like a sell out tomorrow. I tell him that things are never as they seem in the movies. But I don’t go into any further detail, and the bell rings. Time to move on.

After “dating” several more pretty interesting gentlemen, it’s my friend Ted’s turn. I ask Ted who dragged him there, already knowing it must have been our mutual friend, Ira. He confirms and we get right to it. First question, “Where are you from?” I scold him for not remembering the answer to that question. I had actually just met him one week prior and we were more like acquaintances than friends. Finally, I reply with “Inglewood.” He looks a bit caught off guard by my answer, but I can tell he is intrigued. “I don’t know how to say this.” Ted says. I can tell he wants to say something but doesn’t know if it is politically correct to say. I quickly interrupt him and let him know that there is not way he can offend me because I have heard it all before so to spit it out. “You seem too reserved to be from Inglewood,” Ted says.

This is not the first time I have heard this type of comment. I explain that I am not insulted or offended but that I am just me and that’s all there is to it. I know what people say about Inglewood and I don’t feel insulted when people tell me that I don’t act like I am from there. The week before, Dallas had made the same comment; “You don’t act like you’re from Inglewood.” I wasn’t phased at all. I knew what he meant and there was nothing more to it. But should I be offended when they do? Should I say something in defense of Inglewood and the people who “act” like they are from there? What does it really mean to 'act' like you are from somewhere?

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