I May Not Survive Much Longer

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This may be the last blog I ever write. Now you could be forgiven for thinking this is because I update so infrequently that I could die of old age before completing another post. And while that is also true, that’s not what I mean. No. My death may be imminent because my wife has left me.

For three whole weeks. On a trip to Europe. This will be the longest stretch that we’ve been apart since we got together roughly 13 years ago, and I don’t know if I’m cut out for the bachelor life anymore.

So…what am I going to do? Really, I’m crowdsourcing this. What in the actual fuck am I going to do with myself? 

man_crying_in_field

Well, I could work out a lot, take my shirt off and picturesquely crouch in a field with my head in my hands, but not for three whole weeks. That’s just not practical. The field might get cold at night, and having lost most of my body fat, I imagine I would find the conditions unpleasant. So that’s one idea nixed.

Well, let’s start with the very basics, then. The question is: How can I survive three weeks without my wife? Well, what does a man need to live? I understand from nature documentaries that there are three basic requirements for sustaining human life, at least for a short while.

FOOD

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I used to know how to cook for myself. I swear to God, I did. I was never an expert cooker, but I definitely knew my basic way around the ovenroom. The problem is, I have no precise memory of having cooked anything. So how do I know I did it? I can deduce it from the timeline of my major life events. Back in my 20s, there was a definite interregnum of at least several months between moving out of my parents’ house and cohabitating with a food-preparing girlfriend. So naturally I must have prepared meals for myself during that period. And when I subsequently split from said girlfriend, there was another interim period of more than a year and a half before I began cohabitating with the black woman who later would become my wife. Ergo, because I neither moved back in with my folks nor starved to death during either of those transitions I can safely conclude that I cooked for myself. For while it is tempting to go out to eat every night, eating out costs more money than eating at home, and I am, if nothing else, a cheap-ass man.

But this awareness of my erstwhile acumen does me little good now, because trying to retrieve that skillset would be like restoring my ability to do Calculus problems. As with food preparation, I know for a fact that I was able to do Calculus at some point, because I graduated from a science and tech high school and it was a requirement. But now, if my life depended on solving even the simplest Calculus problem, shortly thereafter you would find me, as the renowned English playwright Malliwi Rapesheake put it, “a grave man.”

Some of you may now think I’m a bad husband–or perhaps a worse husband, if you already thought me a bad husband–because I cruelly and boorishly force my wife to do all the cooking. But this is not so. How dare you pass judgment on that which you don’t understand? I take umbrage at this. Great umbrage. In fact…

I’m sorry, but you deserved that. For I am not a bad husband. My wife doesn’t want me cooking any more than I want to cook, for the simple, eminently practical reason that she is a far superior cook. Now I didn’t know she was a great cook when I got together with her–I just lucked into that. But I’m not going to try to mess up a good thing by insisting on preparing inferior meals in the name of equality, while her skills languish. She wants to cook. She likes to cook. So she cooks. For my part, I do all the dishes. (You know, when the spirit moves me.)

Of course my currency in dishwashing will do me little good if there is no food residue available to wash from said dishes. But fortunately, I have an escape valve–my mother in law. Understanding my plight, she has said I can come over to her house whenever I feel like it during my wife’s vacation and gorge myself.

So the food thing should be taken care of. Whew! What’s next on the list of requirements, then?  Ah, yes…

WATER

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Ah, water. That mysterious, life giving, sometimes deadly, watery-tasting beverage. According to science, I need to drink it regularly, for many good-sounding and convincing reasons:

water

I’m not sure what all that means, but if water is, in fact “the major component of most body parts,” then that means my penis is mostly water. And I don’t want that falling off, or evaporating, or whatever it might ultimately do, as a result of dehydration. So I must keep hydrated.

At first, I thought I might accomplish this by drinking my own urine, a la British survivalist bad-ass Bear Grylls.

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That hardy chap is onto something, I thought. After all, what more convenient source of beverages could there be than my own body? I wouldn’t even have to get up, as long as I had a cup handy. I could just put plastic cups everywhere in the house, so that one would always be within arm’s length. Fucking genius.

But then I made the mistake of doing some more reading on the subject, and apparently there are drawbacks to urophagia. Urine is high in sodium and mineral content, and after you drink it, you will end up even thirstier. Alas.

Oh, also drinking piss is gross. But I’m still glad Bear Grylls did it, as it resulted in this wonderful stream (heh) of memes:

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Anyhow, I’m not worried about this anymore. My wife informs me that water actually comes out of “faucets” all over the house (I always wondered about those things–I thought they were for whispering secret messages into). And our “water bill” is paid automatically, so I should be in no danger of death by thirst while she is away.

What’s next, then?

(GIMME) SHELTER

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Okay, I’m thinking I have this one covered. I am in a house right now, and I understand from my wife that we have been the exclusive owners of it for several years. Our “moargidge” is paid automatically from our bank accounts each month (Like the water bill! Amazing!), and even if the upcoming payment got garfed, it would be a while before anyone actually came to the house with firearms to kick me out. Plenty of time for my wife to return from her trip and sort everything out.

But even if I did get kicked out of the house, there are other alternatives. I could take inspiration from Tolkien, and live in a comfy hole in the ground, like Bilbo Baggins:

Bag_End

I mean, this basic idea was good enough for a very important world leader for a number of months (Who knew he was a Tolkien fan?):

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So that covers the three basics. But in my case, I’m afraid there’s a fourth thing that I need to live. And it’s thousands of miles away:

MY DAMN WIFE

I try to avoid mawkishness as best I can, so I’m not going to go on at length about how much my wife means to me, and how I can’t live without her, and blah blah blah. Besides, while I consider myself eloquent, I’m not piss-eloquent. Not like Bear Grylls. And certainly not as piss-eloquent as Lerner and Loewe, who beautifully captured the predicament of the former “confirmed old bachelor” in song decades and decades ago. So I’ll just let Prof. Higgins play us out.

(Damn, damn, damn, damn!)

Come home safe, honey.

–Whiteboy

Can’t Blog Right Now

As I sit next to my wife, the titular (that is, eponymous) black woman of this blog, she’s watching one of her beloved Korean soap operas, streaming on Netflix. The name of the show, she tells me, is “No Need for You To Know.” Even given the vagaries of translation into English, I don’t think that’s the actual name of any Korean soap opera. Google seems to confirm this.

My wife enjoys her secrets. I don’t mind. It’s a kind of game we play. She likes to keep a few things quasi-hidden in our relationship–nothing big, mind you, just small stuff, like her new favorite food truck, or the name of the new Korean soap (or “K-drama”) she’s watching. Then she playfully taunts me about these secrets and I have to try to find out what they are. I actually recommend little games like this. A little bit of harmless mock friction helps keep our relationship fresh. Free advice, that.

What does this have to do with the subject of this latest blog? I don’t know, maybe nothing. Or maybe everything. Because I don’t know what this entry is going to be about. I’m not really motivated to write a blog right now, to be honest. But I know I should, because it’s been months since the last entry and my wife has been (rightly) bugging me about it.

And it bugs me too, as I would hate to deprive my thousands of “fans” (almost all comment spambots for websites selling knock-off Louis Vutton and Gucci handbags) who apparently hang on my every word. So I’m going to blog something. I just don’t know what it will be yet. Bear with me.

Don’t worry, this whole blog won’t be me wondering what I’m going to blog about. That’s too smart-arsed, even for me. I’ll think of a real subject. How about a heartwarming anecdote from childhood? Sure, I can do that. My heartwarming childhood anecdote is, “The Magic Ice Cream Cone Theory.”

No, my theory had nothing to do with Korean women. I was just looking for a picture of an ice cream cone, and this one showed up in Google. I don’t know why. Whatever, fuck you.

Anyhow, as a small child, I was always impressed by the phenomenon of the entire volume of the ice cream cone seemingly magically filling up with ice cream when a scoop of ice cream was placed on top of it. My young mind reasoned that when one is done eating the spherical scoop of ice cream on top of the cone, one should naturally find some kind of void within the cone itself. And yet this never happened. Whenever I ate an ice cream cone, I was always surprised to find that, somehow, the entire goddamn thing was filled with ice cream. It didn’t occur to me that each lick of the cone was pushing the ice cream further down into it. To me, it was a bit of quotidian magic that never failed to delight.

So that was my Magic Ice Cream Cone theory. Ahem.

Yeah, that anecdote sounded more interesting before I actually typed it out. Now that I’ve done so it seems pretty idiotic. Moral of the story: Kids are fucking idiots and think of idiotic things, and when you were a kid you were probably an idiot too.

Okay, so I still need a blog topic. Something easy to write. I could try writing a running commentary on this K-drama the wife is watching, but since I don’t understand the plot, it would mostly consist of me complaining about how every “handsome” young male actor working in K-drama has the same fucking haircut where these swept bangs cover their forehead. I don’t know why, but this style annoys the shit out of me. I want to set their bangs on fire.

Well, I have gleaned one thing from half-watching this show in between typing sentences:The name of the K-drama is “12 Signs of Love.” Its literal title translates as, “12 Men In a Year.” Doesn’t sound too strenuous, really. If that was a Bang Bros. video instead of a K-drama, I doubt it would get very high user ratings.

Alright, enough stalling. I know what my topic will be. If there’s one thing browsing the Internet has taught me, it’s that of the 25% of the Internet that is not pornography, at least 80% of that 25% consists of lists. Lists are the future of content. Buzzfeed has learned this, and it’s about time I did. There’s no more cynically lazy way to create preposterously interesting content than to come up with a “Top [Whatever] List of [Some Shit]” and then let people argue about it. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Let’s make it a movie list. Pretty much everyone likes movies. In fact, as J.B. taught me years ago, movies kick ass. So how about…

Whiteboy’s Top 5 Movie Love Stories

In Absolutely No Discernible Order

(Scattered spoilers ahead…)

5. Take a Bite of Kiwi (Heavenly Creatures)

Quentin Tarantino’s landmark crime epic Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favorite films. A masterpiece in every sense of the word, it changed both independent and non-independent cinema forever, and spawned endless imitators. Most critics agreed that it was robbed of Best Picture at the Oscars, when it lost to the comparatively cuddly Robert Zemeckis epic, Forrest Gump.

But did you know that Tarantino’s magnum opus was not actually the best film released that year? Well, it’s true, you ignorant person. And it wasn’t The Shawshank Redemption either. The best movie from 1994 is Heavenly Creatures, by director Peter Jackson. The movie is about the real-life Parker/Hulme murder case, which scandalized New Zealand in the 1950s. Short version: a New Zealand schoolgirl and an English schoolgirl become, really, really, REALLY, REALLY close friends (maybe lovers), one thing leads to another, and yadda yadda yadda they end up murdering the Kiwi girl’s mother by bashing her head in with bricks in a public park.

Oh, uh, spoilers, I guess…but not really, since you find out in the first 20 seconds of the movie that Mummy is “tirribly hurt.” Then the story of the girls’ whirlwind romance and tragic folie a deux is told in vivid flashbacks. The best bits of the film are the beautifully realized fantasy sequences* in which the two girls imagine themselves in a magical world  dubbed Borovnia, which is populated by a rogue’s gallery of kings, princes, knights and knaves, with the girls as the ruling queens.

This was Peter Jackson’s first foray into drama, after cutting his teeth on low-budget splatter comedies (which are quite wonderful in their own right, but give no hint as to the depth of talent on display here). The film also has the distinction of being the only movie in which future Oscar winner Kate Winslet is actually upstaged by a co-star–New Zealand unknown Melanie Lynskey out-acts young Kate by a nose. But both leads are wonderful. Every time I watch the film, I fall in love with the girls and with the beautiful world they create together…only to get punched in the gut when it all falls apart.

When Jackson is firing on all pistons, as he is in this movie, he’s like all my favorite film directors smooshed into one. Like imagine smooshing a bunch of soap slivers into one super-soap that doesn’t just cohere but also gets you amazingly clean, makes you drop 20 pounds, and leaves every inch of your body smelling like rose petals, including your perineum. And that’s pretty much how I feel after the film’s devastating denouement–as if my aesthetic perineum has been scrubbed to a brilliant sheen by a master.

* Heavenly Creatures was made on a shoestring–$3 million New Zealand dollars, if memory serves, which was maybe half that much in U.S. dollars–but the fantasy sequences showed more imagination and beauty than any $250 million CGI crapfest from today. While watching those fantasy scenes back in 1994, I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow, if this Peter Jackson guy ever gets a pile of money to make a really lavish fantasy film, it could turn out pretty well.” Yeah…pretty well.

4. Virginia Is For Certain Lovers (The Loving Story)

This movie is a documentary, and concerns a real-life couple I’ve mentioned briefly before, in connection with Loving Day, which was named after them. Richard and Mildred Loving were two people who got married in the District of Columbia and then went to live in Virginia, where both were originally from. Shortly after settling down, they were rousted from their beds one night at 4 a.m. by the local sheriff, who put both of them in jail. Their crime? Well, it was the early sixties, Richard was a white man, Mildred was a half-black, half-Native American woman (“colored” in the parlance of the time), and they didn’t have a time machine with which to transport themselves to a more enlightened era.

Not only could white people not legally intermarry with non-whites in Virginia, but they also could not marry elsewhere where such unions were legal (like D.C.) and then return to Virginia to live, as Richard and Mildred had done. Virginia was one of the remaining U.S. states still prohibiting miscegenation through the use of “racial integrity” laws, which had their roots in white supremacist paranoia.

Richard and Mildred had their sentence suspended, but were told they could not live in Virginia. They returned to Washington, but Mildred hated living there and was desperate to return to Virginia to raise her children. The Lovings didn’t have much in the way of money, and could not afford a lawyer, but Mildred wrote to Attorney General Robert Kennedy for assistance, and Kennedy wrote back recommending that she contact the American Civil Liberties Union. She did, and two idealistic young ACLU lawyers, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, took their case, which eventually landed in the Supreme Court of the United States in 1967.

When the two nervous, relatively inexperienced ACLU lawyers were about to argue the case before the Supreme Court, one of them called Richard on the phone and asked if he wanted them to convey any message to the justices on his behalf. Richard’s typically blunt, heartfelt response was, “Tell them I love my wife.”

So they told the justices that, along with, presumably, some legal stuff, and in the end, the court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, rendered a 9-0 ruling that determined once and for all that it was no longer lawful for any U.S. state to prohibit…well, I don’t want to spoil the ending, but here’s a visual hint as to how it turned out:

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3. Cormac McCarthy’s Madden NFL 13 (The Last of Us)

A plot synopsis of The Last of Us makes it sound rather cliched: A zombie apocalypse has occurred, and a grizzled survivor who lost his daughter years ago is given charge of a 13-year old girl to escort across country. The girl is immune to the zombie plague, but the survivor doesn’t really care about all that, as he’s pretty much emotionally dead inside and is only in it for the money. So he and the girl fight their way through hordes of zombies and equally dangerous, desperate humans on their way to see the doctors who may be able to unlock the key to the girl’s immunity and save humankind. The one original twist is that the plague is actually a version of the real-life cordyceps fungus, which turns its victims into, well, zombies. Pretty horrifying stuff…but fortunately only if you’re an ant or other bug.

With all the zombie-themed entertainment that has flooded the market in the past few years, The Last of Us probably sounds like it would be a rather cliched movie. But of course it’s not a movie. It’s a video game, and the love story between the grizzled survivor and his ward (don’t worry, it’s platonic) ends up being one of the most affecting that I’ve experienced in any medium. The final hour of the game, in which the hero (i.e., you) does some pretty morally questionable things for the sake of his adopted daughter (think mass murder), is one of the most exciting, challenging, ambiguous and yet wholly satisfying endings to any work of art I’ve ever experienced.

So okay, it’s not a movie, and I said this was a movie list, but whatevs. Fuck movies. There will almost certainly not be any movie released this year (or the next, or probably the next) that will be as involving, exciting, haunting, well written and well acted as this interactive masterpiece.

2. Learning Basic French (Amour)

Okay, back to movies. David Cronenberg, in discussing his great 1986 horror film, The Fly, said that his remake of the scientist-becomes-housefly-because-science story, if stripped of its genre elements, is really just a story about a couple in love. One of the lovers contracts a fatal disease, and the other mercy-kills them. The end.

Doesn’t sound like a very fun viewing experience. But with the sci-fi/horror overlay, the story becomes a lot more palatable. Without it, the story would be an irredeemable downer, and no one would want to see it or fund it, Cronenberg said.

Well, no one told that to director Michael Haneke. Amour is the kind of movie that helpfully reminds us crass American moviegoers why European film exists–because there’s no way in hell this story would ever get funded in the states, even as a shoestring independent production.

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Amour is about old people, and stars old people (Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant, both amazing). America is a comparatively young country, and likes stories about young, sexy people doing sexy things. And when these sexy young people die, we expect them to die in an untimely and violent matter. But Amour isn’t about that. It’s about someone watching the slow, agonizing disintegration of the person they love the most in the world. It’s about how that love continues to evolve and find expression in the face of mortality. It’s…well, I already sound like a pretentious movie critic, so I’ll stop there.

1. Carriage Driver (The Age of Innocence)

Users of the Internet Movie Database have rated Martin Scorsese’s 1993 romantic drama about 19th century New York socialites a 7.2 out of 10. On the U.S. academic grading scale, that would be a C. For reference, they gave the third Star Wars prequel, Revenge of the Sith, a 7.7.

Yeah. I try not to contemplate this fact too much, because it might well [SATIRE] drive me to start an al-Qaeda splinter group of irate movie fans.[/SATIRE].

Okay, maybe that’s hyperbole, but I can’t help it. I’m a big Scorsese fan. I see every one of his films in the theater upon its initial release, and I don’t do that for any other director (Not even Spielberg). I’m such a fan, I actually know how to pronounce his name (Skor-Sess-Eee). And here is my list of his top three films (Lists within lists now; this is getting pretty po-mo, but bear with me):

1. Taxi Driver. 2. The Age of Innocence. 3. Goodfellas.

Yes, people, I really do think it’s that good. This isn’t just the New York street kid turned director getting to play around with elegant costumes and pretend he’s making something for Masterpiece Theater–this is one of the best, most faithful adaptations of a truly great (Pulitzer Prize-winning, in fact) work of literature ever produced. In fact, if you haven’t read Edith Wharton’s book…well, you haven’t read a book. But whether in book or film form, the story of the thwarted love of Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska is the greatest love story ever told, as far as I’m concerned.

What makes it so great to me? Because it’s not just a story about social rules and how they crush people’s romantic dreams. It’s about how we absorb those rules and end up sabotaging our own happiness even in the absence of external barriers. It’s about longing, and settling, fear of breaking taboos, and the twisted solace that some of the more sensitive among us receive from thinking of ourselves as tragic heroes, doomed to be alone…even when we really aren’t. It’s about a whole raft of exquisitely subtle but powerful emotions.

And there’s another reason why I think this film is a masterpiece. A rather personal reason. The film starts 90s alt-goddess Winona Ryder as May, the “safe” choice of wife that Daniel Day-Lewis’ Archer settles for and marries. His true love, of course, is Michelle Pfeiffer’s comparatively exotic and free-spirited Countess Olenska. Now, at the time, I was a big fan of Ms. Ryder. A big, big, fan. In fact, since high school, like many a lovelorn geek, I considered her to be more or less the platonic form of the female; the absolutely perfect woman (And she’s a WHITE GIRL! Fucking crazy, I know.).

Ask anyone who knew me in college: My dorm room walls were a shrine to Winona. It was pretty sad, and probably a little creepy, but…well, what can I say, that was me in college. And my esteem of her has changed very little over time. Even in later years when she was caught shoplifting, I didn’t give a shit. She clipped the magnetic tag off my heart, stuck it in her purse and sauntered out of Saks Fifth Avenue with it a long time ago.

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But never mind that. Rewind back to 1993. Now somehow, over the course of 135 minutes, The Age of Innocence was able to convince me, through the sheer magic of the movies, that being married to Winona Ryder would be an absolute living hell. Like being buried alive in excrement, thumbtacks and live cockroaches. How did Marty manage that? I still don’t know. But it’s all the evidence I needed to know that I was in the hands of a master director at the top of his game. In fact, to me, this film is Scorsese’s last outright masterpiece. He’s come close to making masterpieces in the intervening two decades (Kundun, Casino, Gangs of New York), but to me, this film remains his last unqualified, four-star, knocked-the-fuck-out-of-the-park home run. A 10/10.

Fuck you, IMDB.

Honorable Mention: Sleepless In Abbottabad (Zero Dark Thirty)

(I’m throwing this in here in case some government snoop is reading this page because my earlier al-Qaeda reference flagged me in some database or other. I am a patriotic American, who is utterly delighted that the last thing that went through Osama Bin Laden’s twisted brain before that bullet was the sight of the scariest thing the U.S. military can produce: Navy Seals sent to kill him.)

Director Kathryn Bigelow’s riveting film is ostensibly an account of how dogged CIA operatives managed to track down the and kill the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. The story is told through the eyes of a composite character named “Maya,” a young CIA analyst who is given no backstory, no family, no outside interests, and seems to have no personal life whatsoever. But it’s not too hard to read between the lines of this intel procedural–those brave Navy Seals may have been told not to bother trying to capture Bin Laden, but it was obviously too late to prevent Bin Laden from capturing Maya’s heart. I mean, she obsesses over finding this man for something like seven years. Has any romantic heroine has ever put such relentless effort into pursuing a man?

When she finally has her moment of romantic fulfillment with Osama, as he lies supine before her, you can see Maya’s conflicted emotions, ably conveyed by Hollywood super-ginger Jessica Chastain (whom you may remember from every movie not directed by Tyler Perry from the past three or so years. And probably a couple of Tyler Perry’s movies too.). And her tears in the final, haunting scene of the film should come as no particular surprise. She has landed her man, at last.

Oh, and the character’s name, Maya, means “illusion” in some language or other. So that’s obviously significant and shit, and reinforces my thesis in various ways that I won’t bother elaborating upon because it’s so obvious. Duh.

–Whiteboy

Never Get Married

As the Supreme Court chews its jurisprudential cud over whether states should be able to prohibit two people of the same gender from getting married (Spoiler: No), I thought I’d optimistically jump the gun and give some advice to all engaged or engaged-to-be-engaged couples, be they gay, straight, or whatever.

And here’s the advice. Are you ready for it?

Never Get…Well, it’s the title of the blog, so you’ve already read it.

What I really mean is never have a wedding. A wedding is a terrible way for two people in love to start their life together. At its best, it’s basically an intentional, expensive disaster.

I have every confidence that my marriage is going to last. And why is that, you ask? Because my wife and I love each other completely and can’t imagine life apart? Because we have absolute confidence that both of us has found the one person with whom we can be perfectly happy for the rest of our lives?

Yeah, okay. Sure. But also, it’s because neither of us wants to go through the nightmare of having to plan and finance another wedding. Never ever. No fucking way.

Even if we end up living to be 230 years old and spend the last 180 of those years hating and resenting each other, we’ll stick with it. Even if we end up murdering each other with paring knives, spitting our last vituperative breaths in each other’s faces in a co-mingled pool of blood…neither of us would regret staying together. It’s just not worth the risk that we might want to remarry after splitting up, because that could involve another wedding if the prospective fiance(e) demanded it. And this antipathy toward weddings that my wife and I share is as stable a bedrock for an enduring marriage as I can imagine.

Planning a wedding is like a combination of party planning and dying of hemorrhagic smallpox. In the months leading up to my wedding, I felt alternately worried, overwhelmed, frenzied, angry, nauseated and hemorrhoidally irritated by all the myriad, ridiculous, supposedly all-important details of planning the “perfect wedding.” You’re essentially putting on a performance that you have to spend months rehearsing for, but you know in advance that the show is closing on opening night, and it’s never going to get into the black. For me, anyway, it was stressful stuff.

Maybe I’m too sensitive, or too wrapped up in appearances, but as the day of our wedding approached, I began to anticipate it as one would anticipate an appointment with the electric chair. Now this was not because I felt any apprehension about the institution, or my choice of wife. I knew I picked the right woman, and for God’s sake, we had already been together seven years by the time we got hitched. Hell, we had already bought a house together. (That raised a few eyebrows among friends and family but it turns out we did things in the right order–the money we saved in taxes after we bought the house paid for almost the whole wedding.) I knew our relationship was stable. And I’ve never had an issue with monogamy (…he typed, with prideful melancholy…)

No, what caused me anxiety was the mind-numbing logistical details of the wedding, and the fact that we always seemed to be hopelessly behind schedule. I don’t know if you’ve been married, but have you looked at the average wedding checklist? I mean, look at this fucking Pinterest site, for God’s sake. (I apologize for linking to a Pinterest site, but I wouldn’t have done it unless I felt it was absolutely necessary to prove my point. You have my word on that.) That’s a lot of stupid shit to worry about it.

Fueling my anxiety at every turn was the infernal cabal known as the wedding industry. If I had my druthers, the wedding industry would be classified as a terrorist organization by the State Department, and routine drone attacks would be sanctioned against its CEOs.

The wedding industry is a bad, bad thing. If you are part of this industry, you’re a bad person, and you should feel bad all the time. You are not a beneficent teacher guiding young couples into a life of matrimonial bliss. You are a pimp, and engaged couples are your hapless hoes. You’re a ruthless exploiter of the emotionally vulnerable. The only people in the world worse than you, vocationally speaking, are meter maids, insurance adjusters, and of course anyone affiliated with the funeral industry, which makes the wedding industry look like the fucking March of Dimes.

The wedding industry deliberately instills anxiety in couples, in the hopes that they will throw money they probably don’t have at overpriced, mostly single-use crap in a futile effort to alleviate that anxiety. And people fall for it. I even almost fell for it–in my darkest hours prior to the blessed event, I even considered turning to a mother-fucking wedding planner. Wedding planners shouldn’t even exist. No one should even need them. It should be a fictional occupation that only appears in movies, like blade running, vampire slaying, or dragon husbandry. Fortunately, my cheap-ass…err, I mean, frugal fiancee wasn’t havin’ that horseshit, so we struggled through on our own. Bless her.

At one point, about a month before the day, we went to a wedding vendor expo, looking to nail down a few loose ends. Whenever we talked to a vendor, and we told them what the date of our wedding was, we were greeted with this theatrical gasp of horror and alarm. As if there was no earthly way we could make the remaining arrangements in the time allotted. But I’m sure, if we had continued hearing their pitch, they would have shaken their heads and said, “Well, we can try to help you,” and then taken us for every dollar they could. They exaggerate the problem, try to whip you into a frenzy of anxiety, and then offer the solution. After this happened to us a few times, I blew up at one of the vendors and launched into a rant not unlike the above paragraphs in this blog. My wife dragged me out and we didn’t go to any more expos. Which is good, because it would have been even more logistically challenging to have a wedding in jail, which is where I would have ended up, most likely after visiting a gun expo and then a wedding expo in rapid succession.

Part of the trouble, I admit, is that my wife and I both have a penchant for procrastination. I’m worse than she is, but neither of us is a paragon in this area. There were times I almost wished I was engaged to a more traditional “Bridezilla,” in that at least a madwoman who is psychotically obsessed with her perfect day is likely to be fairly well prepared for it. But my wife isn’t like that. She never sat around as a girl dreaming about her wedding. She was too much of a tomboy. She says she never thought she’d get married at all, and I believe her. And of course I never dreamed about getting married either, because I have a penis.

So we were both pretty much caught wrong-footed by this marriage shit. And I found myself in a continuous state of sticker shock for the better part of a year, as I realized that any good or service costs vastly more when you stick the word “wedding” in front of it. “Flowers” are an entirely different animal than “Wedding Flowers.” “Dresses” are an order of magnitude less expensive than “Wedding Dresses.” And so on.

And chances are, if you’re getting married, you and your spouse have to foot that bill pretty much on your own.  Unless the computer you’re reading this on has slipped through a crack in time and you’re actually from the 19th century and dowry’s are still a thing, you’re probably looking at starting your married life in a pretty significant amount of debt. And that, frankly, sucks. In fact, it sucks ass.

Because God-A-Mighty shitfire, does it add up. The average cost of a wedding in the Washington, D.C,  area is just shy of $30,000. That’s fucking-thirty-fucking-thousand-fucking-dollars-fucking! Imagine all you could buy with that. That’s a pretty good car. That’s a big down-payment on a house. That’s a trip around the world. Hell, that’s the better part of a trip to outer space. That’s…a shitload of Cinnabons! All kinds of good stuff. But instead of any of those things, you’re spending it all on a big party for your friends. And what have your friends ever done to deserve such extravagance? Nothing, that’s what. Buncha freeloading alcoholics. Fuck ‘em!

So this blog has been a bit of a gripe-fest, and I know I’ve typed the word “fuck” at lot (and again there). But now I’ll give it a tacked-on happy ending.

For all the worrying, for all the fretting, for all the money blown…our wedding actually more or less kicked ass. Yes, I was ultra-nervous about the whole thing, but a friend of mine had a very good piece of advice for me. He told me not to worry. And why? Because the theatrical performance analogy doesn’t entirely hold up. He told me the crucial difference between putting on a play and putting on a wedding is that the audience in a wedding is not composed of critics. Unless you’ve made very poor choices in friendships, the audience is instead filled with people who love you and want you to be happy. They’re not looking to cavil and find fault with every detail of the ceremony, venue and reception–that’s your job as the bride or groom. They’re here to laugh, maybe cry, definitely eat and drink a lot, and celebrate your happiness. (Again, provided your friends aren’t assholes. Mine aren’t.)

So if you’ve got an unavoidable wedding in your future, try not to stress about it. It will probably all turn out alright. The marriage afterward is what you should really be worrying more about, because those often turn out to be utter disasters. But let’s bet on the come and say yours won’t.

Here’s some other advice that might help: If it’s your first wedding, don’t treat it as such. Pretend it’s your second wedding. Because I have some friends who have had some really cool, laid-back, fun and by-God inexpensive second weddings recently. I attended a wedding of two good friends a few years back that was held at the groom’s father’s house, with the reception at a club owned by some friends of ours, and it was perfectly lovely (They also saved money by having me officiate, but that’s a subject for another blog). And just scant weeks ago, I attended another lovely wedding of two folks for whom it was not their first walk down the aisle–a white man and a black woman, as a matter of fact–that was entirely DIY, right down to the processional music, and it was all so romantically sweet that there was not a single guest who had not developed the diabeetus by the end of evening.

So pretend you’ve done it all before. Pretend you don’t need to impress anyone with the expensiveness of your event, because you don’t. Save money, for Mammon’s sake. Don’t rent out expensive venues. Don’t buy overpriced dresses and flowers. Don’t have an open bar. (Can’t believe I’m saying that.) And don’t invite the whole world–if people feel snubbed, to hell with them. Conventional weddings easily can run $80-100 per guest. Would I snub an acquaintance to save $100? You bet your eloping ass I would. And if some of those uninvited guests have been married, then they should have the sense not to feel snubbed in the first place, because they should know it’s pricey stuff.

You know, though, for all the stress and bullshit involved in the run-up to our wedding, I wouldn’t trade the memory. Everyone had a good time (As far as I know.) Lots of stuff went wrong, but no one particularly cared. And one thing–just one thing, but that’s more than zero things–in our wedding turned out better than I expected: our wedding dance. Here is a shaky video of it, somewhat in the style of the famous Patterson-Gimlin film. But instead of a floppy-titted sasquatch walking across a dry river bed, it’s a black woman and a white man with no prior formal dance training completely kicking amateur ass at an Argentine tango. Click on the image and enjoy, you.

–Whiteboy

Cryptocaucasians: The White People Across The Street

Like likes like. You know, usually.

It’s true of you, me, and everyone you know. What I mean is, pretty much everyone, regardless of skin color or background, feels more comfortable surrounded by people who look and sound and generally behave and think similarly to the way they do. I’m convinced of this. They may not admit it, but they do.

And feeling this way is not necessarily a sign of racism, or being hopelessly un-catholic (in an adjectival, irreligious sense) in your attitudes. I believe these emotions are a holdover from our more primitive origins, in which those who were different than us were not likely to want to engage in any kind of non-violent cultural exchange. Instead, they were likely to club us in the face, steal our food, douse our fire and quite possibly make trophies of our genitals so we couldn’t make any more people like ourselves. These traumatic evolutionary memories die hard. It’s not a prejudice to be celebrated, but it’s not one to be too embarrassed about either.

So why do I bring this up? Well, as you should know if you’ve read this blog before, I am a white boy who married a black woman. I currently live with her in the southeast quadrant of our nation’s capital–an area not particularly renowned for its ethnic diversity. In fact, if one were to create a diagram of the racial makeup of southeast and northeast Washington D.C., in which white pixels represent Caucasians and black pixels represent…(wait for it..)…African-Americans, I suspect it would look not dissimilar to this:

When I first moved in with my wife (then girlfriend) in 2002, it was in a small house her mother owned in northeast, which we rented. It was not the greatest neighborhood in the world, but neither of us particularly cared, because rent was cheap and it was one block from a metro station. One miserable block. And in the greater metropolitan area, one of the worst traffic regions in the entire country (and by extension, the fucking universe), you’ll put up with a lot for a short commute. I didn’t care if I had to run that one block through a hail of gunfire every morning to catch my train, stepping nimbly among bodies, shell casings, and little plastic jewelry baggies that in all likelihood never contained jewelry. I mean, one block from the train, man! Because CONVENIENCE!

Oh…and also I wanted to be with my wife, couldn’t live without her, love conquers all, yadda yadda yadda…

So there I was, a white boy living in a “black neighborhood” for the first time. This numerical minority status is still not a common experience for Caucasians in America, and I’ll admit, at first, it’s unsettling, no matter how progressive you fancy yourself. I mean, all of a sudden, I never saw white people in my neighborhood. And when I say never, I mean very, very infrequently. White people in most areas of this country still tend to take their Caucasianity for granted until they are the only visible example of it. But that first time you find yourself the only white person as far as the eye can see, you feel a bit…naked. Exposed. Uncomfortable in your melanin-deprived skin. It makes you want to reach for the sociological equivalent of SPF 50.

Man, I didn’t even see white people driving through my neighborhood, let alone living in it. And to this day, when I do see a white person driving through, (this sounds terrible but) I immediately wonder what went wrong. Car trouble? Bad directions from those wonky maps in Apple iOS 6 maybe? I mean, I know what I’m doing here. I’m here for love. But what’s their excuse? Is their cell phone out of juice? Are they, umm…buying something? What the fuck are they doing here? Get out of my ‘hood, you cracka-ass cracka!

I’m reminded of my college days, in the perfectly picturesque and utterly boring (if you’re a college student) town of Williamsburg, Virginia. Now I don’t know the demographic makeup of Williamsburg and the surrounding areas, but I do know that during my four years there I did not see a lot of African-American locals. There seemed to be very few. Few enough, in fact, that the ones who were there all seemed to know each other. My (largely white) friends and I found this slightly remarkable, and reliably amusing.

For example, we had an African-American bus driver who would take us to and from our off-campus housing, and when this driver would spy a fellow African-American walking down the street, he’d almost invariably wave to that person. And that person would wave back. And my friends and I would chuckle and shake our heads with incredulity: Do they all know each other? Probably, we assumed. But perhaps they didn’t. Perhaps that wave was not one of recognition, but a sign of racial solidarity. As if they were saying, “Yeah…stay strong, brother. Fuck ‘em.” We still chuckled whenever this occurred, but perhaps, on some level, we envied that sense of ethnic coherence…without beginning to understand the collective hardship groups must often suffer to arrive by it.

But now the black shoe has dropped on the other foot, so to speak. Who’s chuckling now, eh? And when I see another white person living in my neighborhood, do I wave at them automatically? No, of course not. And do you know why?

Because I never fucking see them! I told you! I’m the only one!

But I’m not complaining. I like to think, perhaps a bit pridefully, that this experience rounds me out as a person. That living in majority black neighborhoods for nigh on a decade now has built a bit of character, and given me more compassion for how minority groups feel when surrounded by whites.

I’ll stop myself right there–obviously for a white person to feel a little out of sorts because there are no other white people around isn’t in any way equivalent to the minority experience in America, or to the experience of systematized racial prejudice. As a white boy, I can’t lay claim to any degree of underprivilege. And even in these “bad” neighborhoods, I’ve very rarely felt as if I were in any kind of danger, or been treated with any obvious disrespect. I have heard the occasional holler of “white boy” (I can apply that to cognomen to myself, but if you call me that without even knowing me, it’s a little disrespectful), but on a scale of 1 to getting-dragged-behind-a-pickup-truck…that’s like a 1.03.

Still…there’s some truth in every stereotype. There was danger in that old neighborhood in northeast (we live in our own house in southeast now; it’s a better neighborhood with the same demographics are pretty much the same). And I got a taste of that danger one day when I was coming home from the aforementioned ultra-convenient metro station. I was walking down an alley between homes that led our old house when I noticed two young black men following me. I had enough street sense to know that I was in trouble, so I stopped before I got too far down the alley. (This was broad daylight, by the way). One of them mumbled something–halfheartedly, really–about my wallet. They were just high school kids, and clearly their hearts weren’t really in it, but I was taking no chances. I had no interest in either A) getting into a fight or B) giving them my wallet, so instead I took a rapid detour back out to the main thoroughfare, and I suffered nothing except a shouted taunt.

The most remarkable part about this fairly unremarkable incident, though, was that this half-assed mugging attempt had not gone unwitnessed. A group of young African-Americans on their way home from school, of the same age as the would-be thieves, had seen what happened…and they waited for me at the end of that alley to make sure that I was okay, and that the shady kids didn’t come after me.

Dammit…just when I was all set to become a racist.

So what did that experience teach me? First–don’t walk down alleys, even in the daytime, dumb-ass. And second–the difference between a “good” neighborhood and a “bad” neighborhood is really just a very small number of people. Most people in “bad” neighborhoods are as pleasant and virtuous as those in “good” neighborhoods, and it only takes a comparatively tiny number of bad apples to ruin the reputation of an entire area–whether fairly or unfairly, I leave to you to judge.

Well, this blog has gone on long enough, and may be veering toward the didactic, so I’ll wrap it up.

Whenever I make these joking (but totally serious) statements about how there are no white people living anywhere around us, my wife counters them by saying that there are indeed some white people living nearby, somewhere across the street from our house, and she sees them on a regular basis. She swears they’re there. But I’ve never seen them. I spend at least as much time in our yard as she does, and probably more, since I’m the one who mows the damn lawn. In five years, I ain’t seen white hide nor white hair of these pale motherfuckers. They appear to be the racial equivalent of Sesame Street’s Mr. Snuffleupagus, whom no one but Big Bird could see (prior to 1985 or so). Whenever I’m around to see them, these white people are not anywhere to be seen. They are the Cryptocaucasians.

I know a good husband should believe his wife, so I choose to believe her when she tells me tales of the Cryptocaucasians. And one fine day, perhaps I will see them with my own eyes. Perhaps I will wave to them, and they will wave to me, and I will introduce myself, and we will break white bread together, and drink white wine, and talk about white things like…I don’t know, Downton Abbey or Thomas Pynchon or something. And that will be a fine, white day.

–Whiteboy

P.S. By the way, in doing the visual research for this blog, I naively did a Google image search on the words “white guy surrounded by black guys.” Yeah, don’t…don’t do that. Welcome to the Internet.

 

Are Black Women “Less Attractive”? (Spoiler: No)

Yes, yes, alright, I know, I don’t update this blog enough. But it’s not like I’m getting paid for it. When I start charging to read it, then people can complain about the appalling infrequency of posts. Anyhow, I’m a busy, modern person. I have interests outside of blogging, and numerous demands on my time. Being married to a black woman, I’ll have you know, is extremely time-consuming. In fact, it frequently takes all day.

So last year, this blog post briefly appeared on Psychology Today’s website, by one Satoshi Kanazawa, an academic at the London School of Economics. Note the use of the word “briefly” in the previous sentence–once the editors of the website realized what had been posted, they promptly took it down. But Buzzfeed managed to screen-grab it first.

Mr. Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist…to some. A “crap psychologist” to many others. Apparently he is known for his race- and gender-baiting “studies,” and this particular post did not disappoint his many devoted anti-fans. The post was rather cumbersomely entitled, “Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women but Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?”

The furor over the article was not, as it turns out, the result of a throng of White, Asian, Hispanic and Middle-Eastern men yelling that they are every bit as sexy as the brothas. No…it was the part about black women being less physically attractive than women of other races. Or more precisely, being rated less physically attractive, although I suppose that’s the same thing. That got people’s dander up.

Kanazawa’s post took this premise as a given. But in the interests of avoiding intellectual and methodological laziness, I feel I should undertake my own field study. So let’s take an objective, clinically detached, completely unbiased look at the empirical data. And bear with me now because this shit is highly scientific. Setting aside my own marital proclivities for a moment, I will ask the question…

That, in case you were wondering, was what bloggers call a “rhetorical-ass question.”

 –Whiteboy

P.S. Okay, okay, I am being a bit facetious. I mean, is it fair–or illuminating–for me to just cherry pick a bunch of pictures of the most beautiful black women I can think of, make it into a collage in Photoshop, and use that to dismiss Mr. Kanazawa as a racist crank?

Of course it is. Fuck him, it’s my blog. However, for the sake of argument, I will address some of the pseudo-substance of his infamous post.

First, I’ll assume that the survey results he describes aren’t utter crap–and that’s a honking big assumption. But if indeed a representative sample of people (presumably Americans), when asked to rate the attractiveness of women of various races, put black women dead last, what would explain such a result? Mr. Kanazawa’s spitballed theory is that the comparatively higher levels of testosterone found in both men and women of African descent could be a factor here–since testosterone enhances what we think of as “male” traits, this could both explain both why black women score low, and black men score high. My wife actually considers this idea potentially plausible.

What do I think of that hypothesis? Well…I think it’s…you know, I just…no. I’m not going to comment. I may be an idiot, but I’m not a fucking idiot.

My explanation for the results? Well, it doesn’t take a genius to think of two factors that may be at play. Firstly, the media-buttressed beauty standards that I referenced in my very first blog, which still are largely geared towards Caucasian physiognomy. Hell, it’s not as if I float magically above the magnetic pull of these standards myself–my wife points out that most, if not all, of the women I chose for the above collage are of mixed parentage and conform quite ably to Caucasian beauty standards in virtually every way except their skin tone. Fair enough. I suppose I am still, in a small way, part of the problem.

The second factor is the obesity epidemic among black women in America. That may be a subject for another blog. But it is a sad and inescapable fact made abundantly clear to me by the number of African-American women I see on my daily train commute who have to stand up because they can’t share a seat with anyone. And it’s not because they’re shy.

One of the more interesting tidbits in Mr. Kanazawa’s post is when he describes not how the attractiveness of black people is rated by others, but how they rate their own attractiveness. He says that black people rate themselves as more attractive than other groups rate themselves. Much more, in fact. So the black community is not impoverished when it comes to self-esteem, at least in terms of appearance, andof course that’s a good thing. After all, it’s healthy to be happy with your appearance. You know…

On another subject, I wonder how black people rate the attractiveness of whites? Hopefully some of them can look past our distinctly unpleasant odor and derive some meager aesthetic pleasure from our pallid frames. But I don’t blame them if they don’t.

P.P.S. For extra credit, match each numbered woman from my collage with her profession.

  • Pop star, deceased but never to be forgotten.
  • Living pop star who used to be heavier. (And hell, I thought she was hot back then. You can imagine what I think of her now.)
  • Porn star.
  • Sports Illustrated swimsuit star. Rumor has it my beloved Naomi Campbell won’t be in the same room with this woman. Rawr…
  • Movie star. (Hey, she was in “Friday”, “Roll Bounce”, “Stomp the Yard” and “Biker Boyz”—that’s movie star-ish enough for me.)
  • British TV star and traveler of both time and space.
  • Model and star of film and screen, including the recent “Think Like A Man.”
  • TV mogul, talk show and reality star. Oh, and she’s been in Sports Illustrated too.
  • Overshadowed pop star who is just as pretty as Beyonce, if you ask me.

 

 

My Wife Can Beat Up Your Wife

First of all, Happy Loving Day! We should all remember that interracial love is more than just a category of pornography–it’s a civil right that people had to fight and sacrifice for. I had planned to do a whole blog on the Lovings, but the calendar sort of beat me to the punch. Anyhow, Richard and Mildred…thank you.

And now for something related but completely different.

I am not a violent person. I’ve been in very few fights in my life, and those I have been in have left me with none of the pride or satisfaction the protagonist in a movie feels when he finally gives an antagonist a fist-full of what-fer. I come out of fights feeling guilty and embarrassed, regardless of how the fight began or how it resolved itself. Thus I try to avoid conflict in the first place. And if I do have a problem with you, I believe in seeking out a non-violent solution.

My wife believes in puttin’ some foot to your ass.

Okay, I may be exaggerating somewhat for effect here, as I am prone to do. She’s not a violent person. I wouldn’t marry a violent person. But she’s been in a lot of fights. And I mean a lot of fights. You know that tough kid you knew in school that used to get in fights all the time? My wife has probably been in more fights than that kid. In fact, she probably got in a fight with that kid, and beat his ass, and sent him home crying like the trifling bitch that he is.

Now, these fights occurred primarily when she was still a kid in school. But it was not because she sought them out; my wife is the furthest thing from a bully. Nor is she even particularly obstreperous. But she was quite tall from an early age, and since the pack behavior of school-age kids is basically deplorable, they will invariably seek out and ostracize any who evince differences in background, manner, or especially phenotype. In my wife’s case, she was tall for her age, so they picked on her. But to her credit, she did not take it lying down.

My wife went on to excel at academic performance, graduating summa cum laude in her undergraduate studies and now undertaking graduate-level coursework. But you could have been forgiven for doubting such a scholarly trajectory if you had glanced at her early school records, due to her high incidence of suspensions and detentions. This was all for fighting. Fights she did not start, but which, she assures me, she brought to a swift and decisive end.

Now, when my wife told me all these stories about what a scrappy and experienced fighter she was, I was understandably skeptical. After all, this was my girl–the sweet, radiant, loving future mother of my children. And the vicissitudes of childhood, when spied through the looking glass of adult perspective, can become enlarged. Distorted, even. So I could be forgiven for thinking that my wife was doing a bit of aggrandizing. Perhaps a bit of fronting. Not a lot. Just a little fronting.

But then one day, these suspicions, like a hapless bullying victim, were thoroughly beaten down, when I bore witness to the events I will now describe.

One weekend afternoon before we were married, my wife and I received a phone call from a mutual friend, who as it turns out was having some trouble with her boyfriend. Well, he probably wasn’t really her boyfriend, but he fancied himself such, or at least felt that whatever fleeting intimacy he had shared with her entitled him to get up in her business and regulate her behavior. And apparently it was getting borderline abusive. So we went over to her apartment to visit.

Now the purpose of our visit was mostly just a pep talk. The pseudo-boyfriend, who did not live there, was not in the house when we arrived. We socialized with her a bit, and caught up. We gathered from her that she was not enthusiastic about how this relationship was going. We listened sympathetically. But then before it was time for us to leave, the pseudo-boyfriend (hereafter, “PB”) showed up.

Initially, everything was fine. Introductions took place without incident. But then PB proceeded to ignore us and get up in our friend’s business, treating her rather disrespectfully as he interrogated her as to why she had become more distant to him. Our friend (who is now married, and not to PB, thank fuck) has always been one to cherish her independence, and it became clear to us that she wanted out of this uncomfortable situation with this young(er) man, whose macho posturing as he tried to dress her down made his immaturity and insecurity abundantly clear to both my wife and myself. As I recall, he was interpreting an incident in which our friend had refused him entrance to her room as compelling evidence that she was cheating on him. Yeah…he was one of those guys.

As the situation worsened and he became more and more disrespectful of our friend, I became more and more uncomfortable. Being the non-confrontational sort that I am, I found myself regretting the fact that we had come over in the first place. But as PB’s tone became more strident, my wife became more and more involved. It became clear to me that confronting this jerk had probably been her purpose right from the beginning. Or if not her purpose, at least an expected contingency

When my wife began to intervene, PB responded in a predictable way, with more macho bullshit and warnings that he was speaking to “his woman” and this was “none of our business.” My wife quite literally laughed at this, since this overcompensating whelp had known our friend all of a few weeks, and we had been friends with her for a decade or more. “His woman” our ass.

So things deteriorated, and as they did, it became clear that this guy might not be just your run-of-the-mill asshole, but a borderline abuser, and the sooner he was out of the picture the better. But as he became more aggressive with us, my wife matched him point for point, refusing to back down. When he began to insult my wife, I overcame my natural aversion to confrontation and insulted him right back. It wasn’t my proudest or most politically correct moment–using a common schoolyard colloquialism that begins with the letter ‘R,’ I likened him to someone with a developmental disability. And that was far more of an insult to the disabled than to this particular individual. So allow me to take this opportunity to apologize to those with developmental disabilities for the thoughtlessness of my remark. I don’t care what reading level you’re at, whether you need help dressing or if you enjoy playing with your feces–you are almost certainly far smarter than this ignorant fuckwad was.

With this level of verbal escalation, PB made his first actual threat of physical violence towards us. And in response, my wife did something I have not seen her do before or since, but which she executed with such speed and skill that I had little doubt it was a motion she had had extensive opportunity to perfect–in anticipation of throwing and blocking punches, she whipped her jacket off and threw it at her feet in one smooth motion, and said, “Oh, you wanna go?! Then let’s go!”

At this point, I found myself in a truly awkward, and for me, rather unprecedented position. My wife (or rather, at that point, my girlfriend of several years) was on the verge of getting into a physical fight with a male. And I was standing right there. For the non-violent person, this is a bit of a no-win scenario. I mean, even I could not see myself standing idly by while such an altercation occurred. If PB actually laid a hand on my wife, regardless of my faith in her ability to handle herself, I knew I would take immediate steps to end the fight. Because while I’ve described my aversion to violence, I know that I am capable of it when pressed. And when I fight, I tend to fight dirty. If things had gotten too out of hand, there’s a very real likelihood that I would have fought not just with my hands, but with whatever else the environment offered up–keys, bottles, hairdryers, fireplace irons, etc. And that could have gotten very ugly, and very aggravated assault-y, very quickly.

But as it turns out, the situation never came to blows. (Sorry…that’s probably a letdown after all this buildup. Maybe I should have embellished, but that’s not my style.) While PB was perhaps not the brightest of bulbs, he at least remembered enough basic arithmetic to know that two is a larger number than one, and thus any altercation would not be stacked in his favor. So instead of taking my wife up on her challenge, he exercised the better part of valor and left, still hurling insults and assuring us he would return shortly with “his boys.”

As it turns out, he did not return, with his boys or anyone else, and while I can’t necessarily claim that he never saw our friend again, this event was more or less the punctuation at the end of their relationship. My wife’s mission had been achieved. And while I still hadn’t actually seen her throw any punches, I didn’t need to. Her resolve was clear. And woe betide any idiot like PB who doubted it.

Postscript: When I told my wife a few weeks ago about the subject of this blog entry, she apparently hadn’t thought about this particular incident in a number of years. When I reminded her of PB, my girl, the sweet, radiant, loving future mother of my children, was heard to mutter these words, without a trace of any theatricality that might call her resolve into question:

“Punk-ass motherfucker, better not catch him on the street.”

I love you, honey.

–Whiteboy

I Married A Jury (Or, “11 Angry Mother******s”)

Living in our nation’s capital has many highly questionable perks, and one of them is getting summoned for jury duty. At regular intervals of two to three years, any D.C. resident who has not been convicted of a felony within the last decade will get that magical notice in the mail, like finding the golden ticket in your Wonka bar (except they’re not hard to get), inviting you on a free tour of the factory where delicious bars of creamy milk justice are made. The only difference is that instead of taking a boat ride down a river of chocolate, it’s more like the river of shit in Dante’s Inferno, and instead of Oompa Loompas, you’re surrounded by criminals wearing ankle bracelets and their sullen baby mamas.

Every time I get summoned, I thank my lucky stars that I moved to D.C. from my home state of Virginia, where a pathetic shortage of felons per capita means the non-felons don’t get nearly as many opportunities to do their civic duty and see how the sausage of American jurisprudence is really made. Really, I’m so utterly thankful. (/sarcasm)

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I got summoned recently, and despite some fairly benign efforts to worm my way out of it, I was selected for a jury. The last time I was summoned I managed to avoid being selected by taking Homer Simpson’s sage advice: “The trick is to say you’re prejudiced against all races.”

This time around, during the so-called voir dire process, when the judge asked if I or anyone close to me had been the victim of a crime similar to the one the jury was being empaneled for, I answered yes (truthfully). This, I optimistically thought, ought to be enough to get me excused, since my impartiality would be called into question. In fact, I was so confident of this, when the judge asked me if I thought I would be able to maintain impartiality nonetheless, I once again told the truth: “Yes, I think so, your honor.”

Memegenerator.net is a dangerous tool in the wrong hands...that is, most of its usersThe trial is over now, so I’m completely free to give you all the juicy details, but in the interest of protecting the guilty, I’m not going to. Suffice to say, nobody involved in the case died. But the charges lodged against the defendant did include words like “aggravated,” “intent to kill,” “dangerous weapon,” “significant injury” and so forth.

The judge estimated the trial would take about a week. It took two. I don’t hold that against her; these things don’t run on precise timetables. But she could have told us that when you’re on a jury, each day feels like a week. This is particularly true when you’re deliberating–we deliberated for twice as long as we heard testimony–and it’s even more particularly true when you’re completely, utterly, fuckingly deadlocked.

That’s right, we were hung. Or at least we thought we were for a while. And it was like every single TV show or movie you’ve ever seen about a jury: 11 people were convinced the defendant was guilty, and one lonely holdout was convinced he was innocent.

That’s right: one noble juror, voting according to his conscience, was convinced that the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt had not been met by the prosecution. That man held fast to the notion, which so much of our justice system is based upon, that every defendant must be considered innocent until proven guilty. That it is better to let a thousand guilty men go free than to imprison even one innocent man. And he maintained that belief through day after day of relentless argument and pressure from the other jurors.

Was I that lonely holdout?

Hell no. The defendant was guilty as fuck! Hang ‘em high, I said!

Seriously, it was insane how guilty this guy was. Once again, I won’t go into details, but suffice to say that all of the evidence–every iota, every scintilla, every quantum of solace–pointed directly to the defendant’s guilt. The defense didn’t call a single witness–they just tried to poke holes in the testimony of the prosecution witnesses. In order for our holdout, Reasonable-Doubting Thomas (henceforth, RDT; I never asked his real name) to think that the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt had not been met, he had to indulge in more speculation than Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Neal Stephenson could have managed collectively if they’d all stripped naked and taken peyote at Burning Man. And you’re not supposed to base “reasonable doubt” on speculation. The judge told us that reasonable doubt is doubt based on…reason. Go figure.

But try telling that to RDT. No, seriously, try. We did, believe me. We tried over and over again. For hours and days on end. But he could not be convinced. And it’s not even really that he thought the guy was innocent. He thought the guy was probably guilty, but the prosecution just hadn’t quite done its job well enough. I have no doubt RDT will go to his grave convinced of this. He was a stubborn sonofabitch.

And yet, despite the frustration of all of us being stuck in that jury room for so long because of this one guy, I can’t really hold RDT’s opinion against him. The problem is, two people can read the same one-million-page treatise on what reasonable doubt is, and still not be able to agree when that standard has been met. It’s like reading a book on what beauty is, and then expecting everyone to agree on which painting is more beautiful: The Starry Night or Guernica. Or which Jessica is hotter: Alba or Biel? People will not agree.

But our justice system, at least here in D.C., requires us all to agree on criminal counts. Every single one of us. Eleven out of twelve isn’t good enough. If it was, we’d have been done in two hours, instead of lingering for another week-plus, stuck in the same room all day, with tempers flaring and people wondering if they were still going to have jobs waiting for them by the time we got the hell out of there…if we ever did.

After a couple of days of hellishly repetitive arguments, none of which managed to sway RDT, we tried to declare ourselves hung. Twice. But a good judge doesn’t really take “Uh, we don’t know” for an answer. So she marched us right back into the deliberation room each time and told us to do our civic duty and arrive at an answer. Any answer. And while RDT remained firmly convinced of his unconvincedness, eventually some of the judge’s arguments penetrated his skull: specifically, exhortations to respect the opinions of one’s fellow jurors even if you think they’re goddamn idiots, and reminders that it’s kind of shitty to put everyone–defendants and complainants alike–through the stress and expense of a trial all over again just because 12 obstinate people won’t play nice with each other.

So in the end, we ended up horse trading to arrive at a unanimous verdict. There were nine counts brought by the prosecution–the eleven of us who thought the guy was guilty would have convicted the defendant on at least seven or eight of those counts. But because of RDT’s stubborn dedication, we agreed to drop some of the counts in exchange for getting RDT’s guilty vote on some other counts. So we convicted on five counts, with three of those five bumped down to lesser levels (simple assault vs. assault with intent to kill, etc.).

So in the end, we managed to make our sausage, as it were. Like real sausage-making, it wasn’t pretty; we all came out of the process feeling a little dirty, but finally we did manage to deliver a verdict, wrapped in hog intestine and ready to be force-fed to the defendant. And in the view of 11 of us, justice was largely done.

Oh, and apropos of nothing, RDT was a white boy. Like me.

You may have noticed most of this post didn’t really have anything to do with marrying a black woman.  I do have other interests, you know. I mean, it’s not like being married to a black woman completely defines me as a person. Does it? Maybe it does. I don’t know. But I will say that all the little old black ladies on our jury, and there were several, were in complete agreement with everything I said during our deliberations. It was like having my own little chorus in church: I’d make an argument, and behind me I’d hear: “That’s right…Uh huh…Yep…”

When they did this, I smiled inwardly to myself and thought, “That’s right, I speak for black women.”

Just don’t tell my wife I said that. Please don’t. No, seriously. Don’t.

–Whiteboy

James Cameron’s Avatar, or “I Married A Blue Woman”

James Cameron, the director of The Terminator, Aliens, Titanic and Piranha 2: The Spawning, is a white man from Canada. A couple of years ago, he released a movie called Avatar that a few people bought tickets for, including myself and my wife (Alas no, that’s not a picture of us above). In fact, we saw it twice in the theater. If you haven’t seen it, you should. I’ll wait. Or you can just watch this pithy but fairly accurate summary. Or I’ll just summarize it for you.

On the surface, Avatar appears to be a simple story. Some years in the future, after Earth’s environment has gone completely to shit, our hero, Jake Sully–a white male not too different from myself, insofar as I also am white and male–goes to a lush alien planet (or a moon, if you’re an asshole for such details) to hook up with some mostly white scientists who use futuristic technology to transplant their consciousnesses into genetically engineered alien bodies–the titular (and yet, ironically, quite flat-chested) avatars. With their avatars, they can interact in situ with the ten-foot-tall, bright blue alien inhabitants of the planet, who are known as the Na’vi.

Meanwhile, a bunch of other, less scientifically inclined, mostly white, people want to drive the Na’vi from their home and exploit their planet’s chief resource (you know, if you don’t count connectedness with nature)–a mysterious and highly valuable element known as unobtainium that apparently makes mountains float in the air like something from an old Yes album cover. (“Unobtainium,” by the way, is an old engineering joke referring to a material that is massless, infinitely strong and costs nothing to produce. If you find your design relying on unobtainium to work, so the parable goes, then it’s back to the drawing board.)

Jake starts off on the side of the less scientifically inclined white people, but after cavorting with the aliens in his spiffy blue body for a while–and finally making alien hair-braiding sex-love with the most attractive member of the tribe, the princess Neytiri–our hero comes to identify more with the aliens, in tried-and-true Dances with Wolves fashion. Realizing that he is the blue people’s savior, the white man goes ahead and saves them from the other mean white people, leading a rebellion that appears to end fairly successfully (at least until Avatar 2: The Spawning).

Scratch the thematic skin of the film ever-so-slightly, say with a dull X-Acto knife, and you reveal a (frankly rather trite) condemnation of industrialization and capitalism combined with a celebration of pre-technological cultures–which I suppose is a predictable dream/wish coming from a wealthy, Caucasian techno-fetishist filmmaker.

And of course you also find the classic white liberal mea culpa fantasy. By disparaging our own culture and embracing that of the, ahem…blue-colored people, we prove ourselves superior to those those other whites who are not as inclined to self-flagellation. But at the same time, we reinforce our secret (or not-so-secret) belief that we really are better than everyone else, because after all, where would those poor blue-colored people be without us? (Better off, obviously, but never mind.)

Now don’t get me wrong–I actually like Avatar. In fact, I pretty much love it. I find it more believable thanTitanic, at least. But if you scratch the thematic subsurface of Cameron’s otherworldy epic just a bit more with your bloodied X-Acto knife, you reveal another, simpler message. One that I can relate to:

James Cameron wants to marry a black woman.

Now, I’m not sure if James Cameron has ever actually married a black woman. His current wife, actress Suzy Amis, is white, and so was previous wife Gale Anne Hurd. (I’m enough of a recovering movie nerd to know that off the top of my head.) But the famously tyrannical, control-freak auteur has been to the altar five times, so one of the other three women could have been black. I don’t know, and I’m too lazy to check. But if he never married a black woman, some part of him clearly wants to.

At first blush, the Na’vi appear to be based on the Indigenous Peoples of North America, also known as Native Americans and previously, quite absurdly, as Indians. They use bows and arrows. They commune intimately with nature, which Native Americans do in all the Caucasian-made westerns that the impressionable young Cameron likely grew up on. Their hair is black, and their active lifestyle naturally involves a lot of cardio and core training. For aliens, it must be said, they look pretty good. Particularly the aforementioned Neytiri, whom the white-man-in-a-blue-body claims as his wife.

But the Na’vi are not really supposed to be Native Americans. They’re supposed to be black. It’s completely obvious. And you will agree, impressionable blog reader, after I present you with no more or less than three pieces of questionable, borderline-racist, totally cherry-picked evidence.

Piece of Evidence #1: Neytiri braids her hair.

My wife also wears her hair braided–a painstaking process that involves sitting in a chair for up to 10 hours while as many as three Cameroonian women natter in French and weave synthetic hair fibers known as kanekalon together with her real hair. (Cameron should have called unobtainium kanekalon instead. All the black people in the theater would have laughed their heads off.) Now, we never actually see Neytiri getting her hair braided–Not even in the extended edition that I own on high-def blu-ray disc. And in some sequences it’s not braided at all. But I bet somewhere on the cutting room floor is at least one scene in which Neytiri has her half-done hair tastefully covered in a head scarf (see below) so that Jake doesn’t have to see it looking all nappy.

Piece of Evidence #2: The casting.

Now, here are the humans in the movie who use avatars to pretend they’re blue people:

And here are the actors Cameron cast to play the actual blue people. The ones who keep it real, if you will:

Now, you don’t have to be a professional imagery analyst working for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to pick out the pattern here.

(Thanks to AvatarPlanet.net for the above comparison images, which saved me a lot of sweat in Photoshop.)

Thus, this makes the story about white people wishing that they could be black people–again, refer to the liberal white male fantasy I referenced above. And that brings me to…

Piece of Evidence #3: What’s the first thing that the white scientists do once they’ve been transplanted into their much bluer, much taller, more capable and athletic bodies?

Ahem…

Now before you accuse me of blithely trading in racial stereotypes as if they were Pokemon cards, remember that I didn’t make the movie. I just watched it, and thought about it way too much. James Cameron made the movie. He could have had them playing tennis, or badminton, or squash, or polo. Or doing sudoku puzzles. Or catching up on episodes of Portlandia. But that’s not the artistic decision he made. Take it up with him.

(My wife’s comment on this final piece of evidence: She assures me that her own blog, “I Married a Racist,” is coming soon.)

Avatar ends with Jake leaving his disabled white body behind forever–Did I mention he’s disabled? He’s disabled. Maybe I should have mentioned that earlier–and officially becoming a blue person and living with his blue wife in what is perhaps the ultimate sci-fi expression of white liberal expiating fantasy. I hope Jake is as happy with Neytiri as I am with my wife. Hell, he ought to be; Cameron’s edict to his design team was to make her “fuckable,” and in this I think they succeeded. At least for those viewers who have ever been sexually attracted to their cat. And who hasn’t, really?

[Awkward silence.]

Hey, don’t look at me like that. It’s not that weird. Or, at least there are a lot of weird people out there, which makes it less weird. If you don’t believe me, are feeling adventurous, and are absolutely not at work, try Google image searching on “Avatar porn.”

But no… it might be better if you just take my word for it.

–Whiteboy

Thanksgiving in Black and White

If you read post #1, you might logically expect post #2 to cover how I met my wife, if we were going in chronological order. But we’re not. We’re going to jump around in time here, all willy-nilly. Think of this as the Pulp Fiction of blogs about interracial marriage. So let’s talk about the recently passed holiday of Thanksgiving.

I didn’t just marry a black woman; I married a black woman with a big-ass family. A very big-ass family. My mother-in-law was the next-to-youngest of 14. The first and last birth were separated by no less than 24 years. By my calculations, this means grandma must have been pretty much continuously pregnant for all of her childbearing years (and I wonder if she somehow found a way to make her pregnancies overlap). The firstborn could legally toast the health of their 13th sibling. Hell, if they’d gone to medical school, they could have delivered the kid.

And my family? Well, let me see…there was me, Mom and Dad. That’s it. My folks just had one kid. Hell, that just seems lazy in comparison.

As one might expect, my wife’s family and my family celebrate Thanksgiving a little differently. Since both families are local, we don’t have to pick one group to spend Thanksgiving with each year. So we eat Thanksgiving dinner twice in one day. How do we prepare for this? Much like one would prepare for a colonoscopy–by making sure the stomach is absolutely empty.

We start by visiting my parents, who, like many senior citizens, like to get an early start on things. Dinner begins promptly at around 4:30 p.m. They like to celebrate jointly with their next-door neighbors, who in addition to being very nice people, have a hell of a lot more counter space. Our neighbors like to say Grace prior to the meal–my father and I are both atheists, but we’re not assholes about it, so we join hands just like the rest of the table and bow our heads at a courteously, though not obsequiously, steep angle, say “Amen,” and get to eating. We do not eat buffet-style; there’s lots of passing of butter involved.

The carb-loaded menu is what you might expect: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, some sort of sweet-potato dish (sometimes brought by my wife), cornbread, rolls, cranberry sauce (regular and jellied, which I prefer), a token green vegetable (green beans, usually). For dessert, homemade pies: blueberry, apple, pumpkin, and, in a concession to my English mother–who is not only the only person at the table, but the only person I’ve ever met, who will eat it–nauseous mince.

(Yes, that’s an acceptable use of “nauseous,” as distinct from “nauseated.” Although there’s some contention among style nazis on this one.)

Once we’re finished with White Thanksgiving, my wife and I say our goodbyes, grab some leftovers, waddle outside, stuff ourselves back into the car and drive to Black Thanksgiving. The size of her family’s Thanksgiving meal varies with the number of attendees, but due to the sheer size of the family, in some years it’s been much like a catered event, where all the food is cooked and served in those big aluminum pans.

The menu of Black Thanksgiving overlaps a fair amount with White Thanksgiving. There’s turkey, mac-and-cheese, collard greens (lots of butter), boiled cabbage (even more butter), rolls (with butter), sweet potatoes (with brown sugar and butter), and perhaps most coveted of all, my mother-in-law’s seafood stuffing (which probably also includes plenty of butter). Don’t ask me for the details of the recipe, which she guards as if they were ICBM launch codes. It’s a recipe so special she refuses to share it even with her own children. My wife is convinced she will take it to her grave. All I know is that it involves crab, and it’s fucking fantastic.

There’s another special centerpiece item on the table that is not part of my parents’ Thanksgiving at all: that magical, delicious animal, Sus Scrofa Domesticus. Quite intelligent, according to scientists, but who cares? Any other accomplishments the species may rack up will always be overshadowed by the fact that it is the only known source of bacon. Without doubt, if there’s one thing we can all collectively be thankful for, it’s the existence of the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates, and all its delicious applications:

Yes, the pig is scrumptious. So much so that some people will essentially eat its anus, if properly prepared. (Fortunately, chitlins are not a part of my wife’s family’s thanksgiving menu. Despite my enthusiasm for the animal, I do draw the line at the Cronenbergian spectacle of chewing on its small intestines. Perhaps I’ll try it one day, but that will be a subject for another blog.)

I must say, though, that the Black Thanksgiving menu is not all that different from what you might eat with my wife’s family on any given weeknight. That’s right–they have Thanksgiving dinners all the time. Why haven’t the rest of us caught on to this? Sure, eating this way all the time will kill you, but you will die satisfied.

Whereas White Thanksgiving breaks up pretty shortly after the meal is eaten, Black Thanksgiving lasts well into the night. My wife’s family enjoys card games, particularly Pit, and when they play, they get into it. Really into it. Things get loud. In fact, I think the loudest team wins. (I should add that Pit isn’t a black thing, necessarily, as this video attests.)

So after eating two enormous meals, and packing the car with enough leftovers to feed us for another week, my wife and I drive home, the car’s suspension sagging under our collective weight, with me fighting the urge to pull the car over on the side of the road and succumb to “the itis” right then and there. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Off-topic: Do you need a new wallet?

–Whiteboy

Tasteful Fade to Black…

So how does a white man in America in the 21st century go about marrying a black woman? Legally speaking, you start by going and getting your marriage license. But that’s not what I’m talking about. There are a series of psychological steps and choices–some made for me, some made by me–that preceded and enabled my bi-racial walk down the aisle on April 19, 2009.

To begin at the beginning, I was born a Caucasian infant in 1972 and remain one to this day (A Caucasian that is, not an infant.). It was a leap year, although I didn’t know that at the time, and wouldn’t have cared if I had known. I also didn’t realize what a cultural landmarkThe Godfather was when it was released later that year. And I’m sure I paid no attention whatsoever to President Richard Nixon’s approval of NASA’s new space shuttle program, which he had just signed off on that January.

Of course none of that stuff has anything to do with marrying a black woman, per se, but it’s there to give you context and shit.

My wife would not be born for another three years, and I wouldn’t meet her for another 22 years after that, so I just bided my time. I ate food, slept, grew, and consumed media (Mostly Star Wars-related). And eventually, in the course of things, I became fascinated by women. That is to say, their bodies, and the things that could be done with their bodies, on the very off chance I might one day be able to convince one of them to do those things with me, at no charge, for recreational purposes.

Men, of course, don’t fantasize about their future wedding the way that many women do. (My tomboyish wife excepted. She still can’t believe she’s married, and neither can many of her friends and relatives.) Men’s  fantasies tend to revolve around the exchange of fluids rather than vows. That’s how we’re wired. So naturally I had no inkling as a boy that I might one day marry a black woman. It’s not an idea that just pops into a white boy’s head. Not in this country, anyway.

That said, fortunately for me, neither was it an idea that I had been conditioned to spurn. I had the great good fortune of having parents who always taught me, by words and deeds, to treat each human being as an individual. I don’t know if they were really cognizant of how far I would run with that idea, but that can be the subject of another blog.

So I wasn’t a racist–or at least, no more racist than is considered normal. But as a child, I still had some growing to do before I would come to think of black women as attractive. This I will describe.

Media, of course, bombards us with sexual images, and this was no less true in the 1970s and 1980s than it is now, the main differences being hairstyles–pubic and otherwise. Then, as now, most of the images of female beauty were patterned after good caucasian genetics. Children were issued toys that embodied and reinforced these principles:

How many girls painted their Barbies different colors back then, I wonder? If I’d ever had one, I’d likely have painted it green, as a tribute to the Orion slave girls on Star Trek:

And then I’d have let my G.I. Joe action figures (Not dolls!) have their concupiscent way with said green Barbie. (This is why girls didn’t–and I assume, still don’t–let boys get anywhere near their Barbies. They’re right to do that.)

The cumulative effect of this media focus on fair skin, combined with the natural human affinity for those who resemble ourselves, caused me to find only white women attractive when I was a young boy. No blacks, asians, latinos or Native Americans needed to apply to my adolescent fantasies. Again, this is not because I was racist. (At least I don’t think so, although I guess that depends on your definition of racism.) It’s just what I preferred at the time.

You see, my libido was trained on re-runs of ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ My favorite angel was Jacklyn Smith, who, it must be said, was simply sensational.

If you have to ask, Jacklyn is the one on the right. (You shouldn’t have to ask). Apparently she drew the short straw at the wardrobe fitting that day.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. By this point, the arbiters of fashion and beauty (basically a cabal of talented gay men who, ironically enough, are in the position of dictating to the world what constitutes an attractive woman) were a bit more cosmopolitan in their tastes, and this relaxation of aesthetic segregation seeped into the popular culture. You started to see more women of color in mainstream media.

I can actually remember the precise moment at which I found myself attracted to someone other than a white woman. It was the moment I laid eyes on this immortal picture:


Wait…sorry, not that immortal picture. This one:

That, gentle readers, is a poorly up-rezzed version of a photo that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, circa…1988/1989 or so. The photographer–a member of the aforementioned cabal–was the late, great Herb Ritts. The model is a very young Naomi Campbell. (And if anyone has a better jpeg of this picture, and someone must, please send it to me. I scoured the Internet and this was the best I could do. I need it, you know, for those moments when I feel like…getting nostalgic with myself. Even married men need to do that sometimes.)

By the way, that particular issue of Rolling Stone magazine also featured another, much more famous photo that you have no doubt seen:

Progress marches on. But once again, it was not this photo, but the one above it, that struck my adolescent fancy. Naomi was quite an apparition to my young mind. Thin frame. Boyish haircut. Skin that appeared blacker than black–nearly obsidian when set next to my pasty pallor. But I found the photo compelling. Compelling enough that, with the vague thrill that I was doing something not just naughty, but somehow culturally and politically subversive, I…well…use your imagination. [Tasteful fade to black]

And that’s how it all started. It would only be another twenty years before I would actually marry a black woman. But in a sense, I owe it all to Naomi and Herb.

–Whiteboy