By the time I got home from Hill House at about 11pm, I was physically drained (due to fact that they served tiramisu and I just can’t resist- which does not mix with having celiac and pre-sugar) and emotionally drained (for reasons I will detail in a moment). Bill came in from teaching minutes later to find me looking blankly at a blank Word document, trying to record my feelings about the evening and coming up blank.
He greets me and gives me a peck on the head; gets a Mt Dew from the fridge and goes in the room to change. He comes back out, fired the PS3, loaded Skyrim and saw me still looking at the screen.
“How was the movie?”
“It was good. Just like the play… but you can’t go wrong with Tommy Lee Jones and Sam L. Jackson.”
“Then what’s wrong? Someone say something? Don’t get me wrong; you don’t look mad. I can’t tell what it is…”
“Bored. I’m bored – I was bored.”
“I’m glad I wasn’t there,” he ran back laughing so I couldn’t pop him. He dropped into the chair and started playing and I went back to my blank page.
About 10 minutes later, he turned to me as the Skyrim patch (finally!) was installing and found that there were no words on the page. He waved me over and met me on the couch. I even let him tug at my gauges.
“What happened?” (tug, tug)
“I was asked where you were again.” (tug, tug)
“Did you tell them I was working and not generally inclined to sit and talk a movie I don’t care about to people I don’t know?” (light elbow jab to the ribs)
“Yes… but that never keeps folks from asking. I just get sad looks. But you do have an invite if you wanna come.”
“That’s okay. So what’s wrong?”
I stopped there… mainly because I didn’t know. It wasn’t as if I was offended; I was treated with the height of hospitality. There was a bit of uneasiness, but few folks have a frame of reference for a returning, single-in-the-faith, black amazon that has a small voice, likes to debate, hates to talk and will clean your kitchen. These kinds of folks just come around that often.
The conversation was great before the movie. I was put on the spot for a brief moment only because I wasn’t quite listening, but that was a small thing. The food was great with all manner of things I wasn’t supposed to eat (which didn’t stop me.one.bit).
“…and after the movie?” Bill had started the game, put his best armor on the character, sent the character into a cave to fight 5 skeletons. The Skeletons whaled at the character with all of their God, to no avail. 30 seconds later the Heavy Armor Level up bar flashed on the screen. Bill grinned at me. He was grinding. I rolled my eyes. He muted the game and turned to me.
“Well, he asked a question and there were crickets…” I laughed. “complete and total silence. I said a bit, but I didn’t say too, too much. Enough to be just a tiny bit provocative,”
“hoping someone would jump in?”
“yeah… but not so much. Everyone was just afraid to talk.”
“Because you were “The Only Adult Black Female in The Room?” he said the last part with air quotes.
“No…” my voice was a bit too defensive. He picked that up and smiled “not at first”
I should stop here and provide a bit of context. For the last 20 years of my life, I have found that for whatever reason, whatever I am doing, I am the only adult black female in said group. There may be another one there occasionally, but when it comes to the usual suspects, it breaks down like this:
Q: 20 white folks and one black female at a party, playing games and having a blast. What do you call the black female?
Q: 7 folks in a room playing D&D, 6 white and one black female. What do you call the black female?
Q: 30 white folks and one black female in a room. What do you call the black female?
A: Dr. Keller-Hanna
Q: 1 white guy, 2 mixed raced girls and one black female in a room, playing Rock Band. What do you call the black female?
A: The Drum Goddess (or mom…)
You get my point. But this is the live I created and chose. And I love my life- it is badass by many definitions, especially if you knew all that I went through to get here.
I think that more than anything else, they were willing to walk in the room see the movie, feel intellectually better about themselves for seeing it, but then pussy out on getting to the real meaning of what they had just seen.
“They didn’t want to discuss the deeper things… they just wanted to appear and to be seen as smart just for showing up. So instead of having to be put on the rails once again by Greg, I just washed dished”
“So you fight being seen as the help by being the help?” I threw the cat at him. He ducked.
“No… by being a servant to the saints”
“You going back?”
“Yeah…especially if the desserts rock”
He gave me a disapproving look, took the game off mute and laughed.
“That’s not why you go”