They even come to your home….
I love pyjamas. They are the most comfortable form of home lounge wear. And, I’m certain, the working outfit of many writers.
The door bell rang late this morning. I glanced down at my pyjama-clad self. Well, I shrugged, it’s the weekend, and they are coming to me, so. My terms.
I could see, clearly, one tall 50+ yrs old white male on the other side of the door. A stranger. There was someone else beside him. A little shorter. Same age. Both wearing econo suits. Probably religious, I thought, but it would be rude to not open the door, so I did.
“Hello, we’re out here today to talk about the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
“No, thank you,” I smiled, and began to slowly close the door.
“What language are you?” he cried, trying to play another hand.
“Clearly, I am speaking English,” I said. And closed the door faster.
“No, I mean– never mind…” he said.
I’m always a combination of bemused/annoyed/curious/wondering/appalled when this kind of thing happens. It clearly underscores the human tendency to create a flash narrative, unthinking, but instantaneous. The flash narrative is built upon all the narratives and biases assimilated throughout the person’s life. It does not matter what actually happens in the interaction– the flash narrative is overlaid atop of the event to recreate the existing beliefs of the subject. This kind of situation happens a great deal around race, gender, sexuality, body.
Two Christmases ago I was vacationing in San Francisco with family members. The streets were busy with tourists and seasonal merry-makers. At one busy intersection we were waiting for a traffic light to change. A man beside me was rambling on, a monologue, that was difficult to decipher. I thought he was mostly talking to himself. He began talking to me, a mishmash of ideas that I could not follow, that made me slightly uneasy. I didn’t respond.
“Do you understand English?” he asked me.
“Not very well,” I replied.
And he left me alone.