The First Time

A recent gchat conversation reminded me of the following. I’m surprised I haven’t actually told this story before, but given that it’s “Black History Month” I am probably at least half obligated to tell it. I have no other way of categorizing it or setting it up than as my first recalled brush with any sort of racism.

It was early October of 1996 and my junior year of high school. All sorts of things were going on, including but not limited to preparations for homecoming and the homecoming dance. My date was a girl who had lived just down the street from me until a few months before when my parents split and we’d moved to the other side of town. She was also white. One afternoon, The Captain and I were out riding around and decided to drop by my date’s house. We hung out there for awhile and one of the last things we did before we left was meet her mother. We talked to her for a bit and eventually The Captain and I went on our way.

A few days later, my date called me on the phone. Through tears she told me that her mother didn’t think she should go to homecoming with someone of a different color “because people might start to think things.” I didn’t know what to say. My initial instinct was to want to comfort her and say “it’s okay,” but I stopped myself because it wasn’t okay. To be honest, I don’t even remember what I said when I broke my silence. What I wanted to do, aided by the fact that in those days I had a short temper, was get that bitch on the phone and lay into her with all my verbal might. Or maybe I should’ve gone back over to that house, knocked on the door, and set her straight face to face just so I could see her look.

In the end I found another date, and my little high school life continued unabated. The world did not end, and time did not stop. Still, to this day I regret that I couldn’t find the words to properly verbalize my feelings. One thing is for sure… If something like that happened tomorrow, the story would be entirely different.


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