Saturday, September 29, 2007

Is “cultural differences” a polite way of saying “penis size”…?

I’m trying to finish the reading for my class, as I wait on Selkirk for the #16. A cheerful middle-aged lady sits down next to me. I smile politely at her, then look back to my book.

Cheerful Middle-Aged Lady: What are you reading? (she looks at my book and reads the title aloud) “Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures”. What’s that about?

Me: It’s for one of my conflict resolution classes, “Conflict and Culture.” (I glance at her, then look back at my book)

Cheerful Middle-Aged Lady: (nodding sagely) Oh yeah, conflict resolution. I’ve heard of that. I took a course once… So that’s about racism?

Me: No, conflict… and culture… (Brief summary of how “culture” is more than just “race”)

Cheerful Middle-Aged Lady: Yeah (nodding again) It’s not about the colour of people’s skin, it’s cultural differences… You can’t just judge people by their skin. I know this one guy, a black guy, and boy is he attractive! (fans herself with her hand) Something about those black guys! (laughs) Sometimes I have these fantasies… oooh, that guy gets my heart pumping. He calls me “Shelly”, although that’s not my name, but I say, he can call me whatever he wants! (sighs passionately) Sometimes I fantasize about… mmmm…

Me: Uhh-

“Shelly”: (with a disappointed sigh) …Not like I’d ever act on those fantasies though! If I had to choose, I’d always choose a black man. You know?

Me: Uhh…

“Shelly”: Like if I had to decide between being with a black man and being with an aboriginal man, I’d choose the black man. It’s not about their race or the colour of their skin… eh? It’s the cultural differences. Of, course, I’d always prefer a white man…

Me: Uh, yeah… (trying to think of a way to end this conversation) …yeah, cultural differences… Hey look, the bus is here!

She follows me to the back of the bus, sits across from me, and tries to make eye contact to continue the conversation, but I look steadily at my book until she looks away.

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