What a Nice Guy by Phil Torcivia

Friday, April 15, 2011

Varieties


      I was fortunate to grow up in a diverse family. My parents adopted four children, each with a distinct ethnicity. My cousins were mostly Italian, but we had some Japanese mixed in one branch. That was cool. I never saw ethnicity as anything to judge a person by any more than hair color or shoe size. So, when I tried to set a woman up with a friend of mine (who happens to have a really dark tan) I was shocked by her answer.
      “... not that I’m prejudice, but I wouldn’t date a man of color.”
      That’s some last-century shit right there. Assholes come in all shapes and colors. It’s safe to say the shelves are still overstocked with large, white ones.
      I didn’t get into it with her. Some people are (improperly) raised to make snap judgments about a person’s value at a distance. It’s silly. I hope we’re growing out of it, then I hear people say some shockingly ignorant things about people they’ve never even seen in 3-D.
      “Hey, Donald. I don’t give a shit in which country or planet our president was born. He’s an exceptionally smart man doing his best to clean up a mess he didn’t make, while you bankrupt companies and whore yourself in prime time to the pudding-headed masses.”
      “... but, the rules say ...”
      “Yeah and those rules were written long before we had enough sense to realize how silly they are.”
      I’m sure my buddy would have shrugged off the woman’s statement, if I told him about it. Still, it pissed me off. She may have meant she isn’t normally attracted to certain men. I’m OK with preferences--I have quite a few of them myself. I wouldn’t say (or even think) something like:
·         I would never date a tall woman.
·         I would never date a blonde.
·         I would never date a Mormon.
·         etc.
      I would say it in the form, “I’m not typically attracted to older women.” That leaves the opportunity door open and allows me to pleasantly surprised on occasion instead of frozen in my ignorant isolation.
      Maybe if that woman were less intelligent, young, or oblivious, I wouldn’t have been so derailed by her statement. She had no excuse. My exposure to racists doesn’t give me the desire to become racist any more than my exposure to 4x4s makes me want to attend a monster truck rally.
      Sure, I enjoy jokes about stereotypes--even Italian ones (since we’re easy targets). In fact, last week I had a woman ask me about the origins of my last name. I said it was Sicilian and she remarked, “Wow, I guess I’d better be careful or you’ll break my legs.”
      I smiled and said, “Nah. I’m more liable to cook for you.”
      She was just trying to be funny. I wasn’t the slightest bit offended, but I could tell by her reaction to my response that she wished she hadn’t let those words pass her lips. See? I can tell the difference between someone being goofy and someone being malicious. No harm, no foul. That other woman, however, isn’t worthy of dating any of my colorful friends or me.

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