Like many people in this great land of ours, I am bigoted. Well, not really. I mean, it's not like I've ever cut holes in my 400-threadcount Egyptian cotton sheets and worn them to a good old-fashioned cross burning. But I have, on occasion, empathized with Archie Bunker. The thing is--and I think this is a constant across races and lifestyles--we, as humans, like to laugh at those different from us. And I think laughing at people different than us is certainly different than hating them.
A recent experience highlighted this for me. It was a typical Saturday night in Dallas. Summer was upon us and the eve was sultry. Sweat ran down our brows like we were working the cotton fields of Mississippi. I'd decided to go to the local bastion of unadulterated capitalistic evil--Starbucks. Despite what those hippie freaks that start fires outside of World Trade Organization conferences say, I have no problem with total world domination of a business sector by one corporation. So, yay Starbucks. Yay Wal-Mart. Yay McDonald's. If Robocop
taught us anything, everything is for the best when one corporation runs everything, such as illustrated by the film's fictional OmniCorp. As I sipped my venti mocha and worked on my magna opus Moaner
, I chatted with my friend Jordan, who is a barista (Italian for coffee-slinging wage slave) at said Starbucks. We noted that there were a large number of Asians in the store that evening, though it was Saturday. Normally, Sunday night is Asian night at Starbucks--it's the only night they serve MSG Lattes. Except we didn't call them Asians. We called them Kim. Why? It's an expansion of a naming scheme created by PennyLane which allows you to talk freely about people of other races in their presence without them knowing about it. Originally, it was confined to black people, and they were known as "James". Thus you could say things like "Did you notice how big James' nose was?" without fear of reprisal at the business end of a 9mm. We've since expanded this linguistic convention as follows:
Mexicans - Carl
Arabs - Amy
Indians - Sam
American Indians - Jeff
Asians - the aforementioned Kim
That night, it was decided that we'd get drinks after Jordan got off of work at midnight--a mere two hours to get smashed (figuratively, it was hoped). Our first choice of an inebriation venue in Valley Ranch is Rocky's (where, incidentally, I ranked #8 in the US and Canada on NTN Trivia last night). We traveled there only to find that it was crowded beyond comprehension. Of all the bars and dives in the DFW Metroplex, why would most of the people in the city want to come here. We regrouped and decided to go up to Yucatan--a quasi Mexican-themed bar/outdoor funitarium on Beltline. As we approached the doors of the establishment, the strained chords of a shitty band reached our ears. The doorman greeted us, asking that we pay a $5 cover charge for the right to spend more money to drink and have our ears assaulted at the same time. We decided it was best that we didn't enter this evil place and instead travel over to the Flying Saucer in Addison.
The Flying Saucer, for the uninitiated, is beer heaven. Well over a hundred beers are available on tap and drunken fun is but a few glassfuls away. Unfortunately, there was also a cover charge here. "Fuck this cover charge shit," we thought aloud and, since time was waning, decided to just walk across the parking lot to the pseudo-Irish pub/restaurant Bennigan's. We sauntered into the place to find it deserted, save for a couple of James folk in a corner booth. We sat at the bar, greeted by a bartender who reminded me a lot of the Agador Spartacus character in The Birdcage
. While flaming, it wasn't entirely clear whether or not this Mexican barkeep was actually gay. In order to most efficiently ensure our inebriation, we ordered Long Island Iced Teas. While ordering the second round, I asked "Carl" (the bartender was Mexican, remember?) how much the LIITs were.
"$6.95. But for you, $3," was his answer.
That sealed it for me...I was 99% sure he was gay.
As we sat there, drinking. Jordan asked me "So, do you think Carl is gay?" to which I replied, "I don't know. I guess we could ask him." Jordan replied, "We could, but if Carl's not, it might be embarassing."
All during this exchange, the bartender was semi-listening to our conversation and laughing at our predicament. We continued to drink, remarking on our concern about Carl's sexuality. Finally, it was closing time and I paid our tab. On the way out, the bartender said, "Have a nice night, guys." I couldn't help myself and replied "you have a nice night, too, Carl."
I wonder if he heard me call him Carl. I wonder if he made the connection. I wonder if he'll remember me the next time I'm there and give me $3 drinks. Probably not.