should we be talking about this?

I was explaining the dynamics of my condo association to someone recently. Aside from it sounding like some sort of dysfunctional Melrose Place, I realized I was describing everyone using labels. Namely:

  1. The Frat Boys
  2. The Sorority Girls
  3. The Old “insert C-word here”
  4. The Lesbian
  5. The Drunk (although it appears there’s been an intervention and we may have to come up with a new name)
  6. The New People
  7. The Stripper
  8. The Black Lady

There also used to be The Gay Guys (technically they were probably The Other Gay Guys), but they moved to Burly, ID. Who does that??

The last one on the list really bothers me. And, while I’ve been thinking about it for a while, I’ve really gone back and forth on the appropriateness of writing about it.

I’m not entirely sure why I am bothered by it so much. The labels are all related to some defining characteristic. And, let’s face it…being Black in Utah is pretty damn defining. So, does referring to that characteristic make me racist? At the very least, am I demonstrating some level of racist behavior? I’m not so sure.

In all fairness, when I finally learned her name (Betty), I began referring to her as such. But, whenever I do, someone always looks at me like I’m a dumbass and the following conversation ensues:

Them:   Who???
Me:   The Black Lady
Them:  (with a nod of sudden understanding)  Oh, yeah. Why didn’t you say so?

I blame this all on my mom. Growing up, a family down the street was known in our household as: The Mexicans. Nevermind that their name was Moran. Or, that they were from El Salvador. I guess the fact they spoke Spanish was all that mattered. Nowadays they’re known as Marguerite and Julio. It only took 25 years for that to happen.

I’m not sure what other label I can assign Betty to describe her. The Older Lady on the First Floor doesn’t work…there’s two of those, and I know the next question would be, “The White one or the Black one?” The Weird Cat Lady won’t work…there’s at least four of those in the building (yes, Amanda, you’re one of them). I’ve tried just referring to unit numbers, but the numbering scheme in this building has everyone confused and the conversation grinds to a halt while everyone tries to count off in their heads and figure out which unit I’m talking about.

Short of taking Betty around to everyone in the building and introducing her, I’m not sure what I can do differently. Any suggestions?

No, wait…I really don’t think we should be talking about this.


5 responses to “should we be talking about this?

  1. I really shouldn’t comment here because, let’s face it, I am the most inappropriate person in the world and talk out out of my ass 99% of the time and offend most people at some point early on in our relationship. But I will, because I like to cause trouble.

    I don’t think Betty would mind and I think it’s completely acceptable. (Which probably means you should come up with a new name for her QUICK!)

  2. Too funny, my dad JUST started calling “the Mexicans” by the more correct “El Salvadoreans across the street.” I tried to tell him their names for years and he still doesn’t get it. They, and “the Old Bat,” aren’t allowed names apparently.

    • For some reason The Old Bat really can’t stand your dad. I mean, she’s a pain in the ass to everyone, but more so to him. Now i don’t feel so badly about running over her tomatoes with my bike when I was a kid.

  3. I love this post. Mostly because of the paragraph about your parents.

    I love too how you had no problem referring to Bluto as the Fat Guy in your cycling post. Weightist!

    If you were the only white guy living in an apartment full of black people, don’t you think they’d call you The White Guy? Maybe you could just call Betty The Lady With Black Hair. Or The Lady Who Drives the Green Honda. Or you could just change it up and call her The African-American Woman. I’m sure your dad could give you some more suggestions…

    • Look at you assuming she has black hair. How do you know it’s not a fabulous platinum blonde? Hmm??? If she drove, that would work, but she doesn’t. In fact, Col rents her carport to get his truck off the street. But, she wouldn’t take any money. We had to buy her a new stand for her TV at Target and assemble it. She hugged us after we set it up for her. I can’t wait to see what her demand for rent for month 2 will be.

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