June 27, 2003

I'm looking at the guy thinking: It's Tarique. It's that kid I used to hang out with in grade 6 who was at at least 3 on my list of 'all time best-friends in the world', and who once said of baseball (in a television interview that I recorded and stumbled across recently): "You don't have to have biceps rippling out of your ear holes - it's a thinking man's game - quote unquote". A wondrous turn of phrase for an eleven year old.

One too many weeks went by in Junior High and that was it. I know his last name, suspect he might still be in the city, but can't look him up. Nope, the only way I'll ever catch up with Tarique is if we run into each other, which is why it's perfect he's on the patio, practically in front of me - if only I could be sure it was him.

Fifteen years can do a lot to a person and their face. So I decide to do a little eavesdropping. And while I'm doing this - discreetly, of course - I notice he's squinting at me, seemingly also at a loss. Then, as he's leaving, he comes over and says: 'Now what's happening here, why are we recognizing each other -- where do I know you from?' and the barrage is hyper-active, it's the kid who used to try to explain steam-engines to me - it's that kid! And you can imagine - I'm only too happy to tell him.

Problem being, he's Tarique - he's brown - and I'm pure honky. So if I'm wrong, (as I explained insightfully before he approached,) well, then I'll be an inventor of a racial tension, and pay accordingly.

What a peculiar dynamic. I might confuse this guy and this guy or this guy and this guy, and sure, it can get offensive - what can't? - but failing at the name game with a "minority" (though, this word won't hold) - and being white - it's always got a terrible charge to it.

"No, but I do know a Tarique." And the sneer on the face of those within earshot, the look of indignation on his behalf, when he himself is totally unfazed - it's his goodness, his persevering struggle to place my face, and the peripheral scorn - these things and some red wine lead me to it: 'I was just telling my sister I thought you were a childhood friend I hadn't seen in years, but I kept thinking if I asked and was wrong I'd be like racist-' 'Oh, I don't think it's racist,' 'Oh good, then, that's what matters,' 'Not in the least,' which made me think: 'Are you sure you're not Tarique?' And it was all this to make them stop with the horrified expression-bit, which didn't stop, but still I thought to myself, at least they've heard first-hand how little it matters, at least they've heard, if not processed, that much. Then, God bless him - whatever his name was - he shrugged, gave up, shook my hand, smiled kindly, was on his way.

In case you're wondering, I'm also a little surprised I bothered writing this.

But only a little.

Posted by at June 27, 2003 11:36 AM

You can only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Posted by: Party Poker on November 4, 2004 07:21 PM .
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