Yup, it’s that time again. It’s time for me to make huge, sweeping generalizations about Americans.
In my defence, I should say that this is now post 38, and this is the first time (I think) I’ve bitched about Americans. This is good going compared to the last blog!
I just had a “NCNS”, which is the abbreviation for “No Call No Show” i.e. sex industry terminology for an asshole client who stands you up. Technically speaking, this particular asshole was only a “NS”, as he did finally deign to email me one hour after the session was due to start to tell me why he didn’t show up. I don’t know why he didn’t answer my calls, or let me know sooner. In the words of nearly every character on “Deadwood”: Cocksucker!
Anyway, here’s his pathetic excuse of an apology letter:
Wow – your area of town was just too spooky (dangerous-looking) for me. Sorry. I was really looking forward to our session.
I get really annoyed at such excuses because they are, for me at least, just another way of insinuating that all working class, African-Americans are going to rob, rape or murder you. Long before I ever moved to this area of town, it apparently was really dangerous for a white person to come over here but now? Jesus, you can’t avoid having your eyes assaulted by all the white yuppies who’re moving in and the nasty montrosities they build – which do not fit in aesthetically with the neighbourhood at all.
It’s true that only one block away there is a corner where’ll you find pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers, but turn another corner, and you’ll find a whole street of white yuppies. This neighbourhood obviously still has its gritty side, but by no stretch of the imagination can you call it “the ghetto”. It seems to me that only a very sheltered white person who has never been exposed to someone of a different social class, or race, could call it that.
That’s what puzzles me about the US. On the one hand, it is such a wonderfully diverse country (and I love, love, looooove this about it…in fact, it would be weird and boring to move back to “the motherland” for this very reason) but, on the other, you have all these people who’ve grown up here who just seem entirely clueless about how the other half lives. I just don’t get it.
When I was training to be a teacher, a fellow student of mine used to give me a ride home, and we actually became quite good friends over the months despite the fact that she was a self-confessed “Conservative Christian”! One time we were sitting in her car, chatting, with the window rolled down, when she saw a black guy walking past on the other side of the street. Damn, she couldn’t have rolled that bloody window up fast enough! I don’t know what she thought he was going to do, but he just walked on past, minding his own business, as I’m sure he was intending to all along.
She was convinced that I was about to be raped and murdered any second by a black man if I stayed in this part of town, and she said it reassured her that I had a big dog to look after me! This woman would confess to me that her greatest fear was being placed in a high needs school with a lot of minority children because she “just wouldn’t know how to relate to those people“. I actually found this woman’s attitudes funny because, well, I’m used to hanging around with liberal types who are probably racist in their own way, but who would just never admit it to themselves or others. It was refreshingly honest to hear somebody admit outright that they have prejudices and fears about other races. Also, this woman was a good person, deep down, so I couldn’t really fault her for fearing something to which she’d just never been exposed. Once she’s a teacher, I genuinely don’t believe she’ll discriminate against someone from another race/social class. She probably won’t understand their specific learning needs, but she wouldn’t intentionally try to screw them over.
Despite this, though, I just couldn’t help but think…Were you never curious about African-Americans? Did you never want to come over to this part of town to see what life was like here?
I don’t mean to glorify poverty, but I always want to live in a neighbourhood that’s slightly down-at-heel and working-class. Life in this part of town is big, glorious and messy, and I couldn’t imagine living in one of those weird, sterile suburbs middle-class people here seem to prefer. At Christmas time, I visited Midwestern Man’s family in their (yup, you’ve guessed it) Midwestern suburb, and I was bored out of my mind! There’s never anybody on the street, the lawns are always perfectly manicured….nothing ever happens!
The funny thing is that there’s probably loads happening inside…at least the fucked-up parts of this neighbourhood are out in the open for everybody to see. In those suburbs, though, you never see anything but how many women are getting beaten up behind those closed doors? How many alcoholics are they? How many sleazy fathers touching their wee girls? How many alienated, disturbed teenagers?