In the past month or so I’ve managed to be the most insulting, racist, and creepiest person I’ve ever been in my life.
The Creepy incident was at a sandwich shop. I was ordering and something was mentioned that I didn’t like, so I said,”Eewww, no. That’s nasty.” And then, because I think of things all the time that sound witty in my head, but come out like a spastic with Tourette’s, I say with a knowing smile, “The only nasty thing I like is a nasty groove.” For those of you as old as me, you probably got the Janette Jackson reference without hesitation. That’s when I realized that the girl in front of me was lower 20s at most. The look on her face had turned from Can I help you, sir to Am I safe now, even with people around? I felt like Ron Jeremy must feel all the time. I was, for the moment, the creepiest guy on the planet. Before she could press the panic button, I dug my way out of this one by acknowledging my failed attempt at humor and explaining the song. Luckily, my wife was with me to reassure the girl that I was safe while off my leash. I followed up by pointing out the name of the singer who was currently belting out I want to party all the time, party all the time, party all the tiiiiiime. That earned me some 80s cred.
But that wasn’t horrible enough, my subconscious thought. Surely you can take it to the next level. So I did.
Me and the crew were outside a Wal-Mart. Where this one is located, there is always someone outside with a sign. I always give something. Money, food, something. And most of the time, the people standing out there look the part. A little worn and scraggly. Their dress and the wrinkles in their face reflect their hard times. Not this fellow. He was maybe 19 or 20. Same age as my boy. He looked well kempt, but really down. Really down. We pull up and roll our window down. He hesitantly eases forward and as I’m reaching in my pocket (it’s hard for fat people to get things out of our pockets when we’re in our vehicles), I look up into his downcast eyes and say, because it’s reflex and I say it to everyone I meet automatically, “How’s it going man?”
That’s right. I asked a kid who might be homeless and destitute how it was going. I guess I could have followed up by slashing his arms with my pocket knife and sprinkling some salt in the wounds, or maybe running over his foot when I pulled off. I didn’t even realize what I had said until after I pulled off. I went low for a minute. Really low. I’m sure that if there are events in our lives that might send us straight to Purgatory when we die, I just earned myself a couple hundred years there. Then, because it was so horrible and there was nothing I could do about it, I began to laugh hysterically at myself. Because I’m a horrible person.
That was next level, sure. But was it worthy of a trophy from Hades? No. I had to one up that. I had to climb to the summit of Mount Horrible and pledge my soul directly to the God of Shame.
A few weeks later, the wife and I are doing the yard sale thing. We stop at one that’s half in and half out of a garage. I walk into the garage and a lady to my left exclaims loudly that, “Everything in this room is for sale!” Since I’m a smartass who overanalyzes everything, I immediately notice that she herself is in the room, so without thinking, I blurt out, “So are you for sale?”
Then it hits me . . . she’s black.
That’s right. I just asked a black woman if I could purchase her. I’m in Alabama. I’m white. I would normally immediately point out how racist that sounded and make a joke about how oblivious and aloof I am. But I am too flummoxed this time. I’m waiting for this woman to put me in my place. I’m speechless. As I stood there with my mouth open and eyes wide, I might have drooled a little on the concrete. I still don’t know whether she caught it herself, because she says, “Oh, no. My husband wouldn’t like that at all.”
I am blubbering. Can’t mind working not think doodoo duh. I hear myself say, “Oh, he’d probably pay a lot of money to get you back.” Okay, now I’m just saying stupid shit and I can’t stop. I continue to move robotically around the garage and then make for the car. As I leave, she calls out behind me, “Didn’t see anything you wanted to buy?” I don’t know if she is screwing with me now, or just trying to sale stuff and oblivious of social faux pas. “No mam. Thank you. Have a good day today.” I get in the car and look in the rearview mirror to see if a swastika has spontaneously formed on my forehead.
I am paranoid now. Moving cautiously through each day, fearful that I’m going to accidentally knock some kid out of their wheelchair or run over someone’s new puppy on the way to work. Please, if you see me out, know that I am a good person. Hold your children closer, yes, but know that I mean well.