(White) brothers in arms…damnit, Barack.

It was with carefree abandon that I greeted my two law school friends, Matt and Patrick, for a night of debauchery when Matt arrived in town for business last weekend.

Let me begin by telling you how overjoyed I was to hang out with them. I had not seen Matt for years and years and years, and watching him so easily interact with Patrick took me back to our first year of law school.

It had all the makings of a perfect night. We were in the company of Matt’s best friend/brother-in-law, Derek, Derek’s girlfriend, Jill, and were ultimately joined by Jill’s friends, Mike and Marie.

And a perfect night it was.

We happily threaded in and out of various Old Town bars, drinking, eating, laughing—each of us attempting to best the others in jibes and candor.

Now, as is the custom with most blacks my age, educated in predominately white settings, there have been many occasions throughout my life when I’ve been the lone person of color in a particular environs.

Naturally, the passage of time, and a change of geography has tempered both the frequency of this occurrence, and my perspective when it arises.

At 29, confident in who I am, and frankly, accustomed to the practice, I barely give any such situation a second thought. Generally, when I’m around people I don’t know well, or people who I suspect have had limited intimate interaction with minorities, I brace myself for the eventual, “Can I touch your hair?” or “My father marched with MLK on Washington,” I’m-not-a-racist awkward conversational subtext.

However, I felt no need to armor myself against such racial weirdness on this special night. These were my boys. We were well aware of the non-existence of any singular issue of socio/political/economic importance on which we could all agree. I celebrated them because they were so radically different from me. Our friendship was a clean space. A safe space. Entirely free from the bullshit that complicated my everyday life.

So I let my guard down.


I let my guard down.

And by night’s end, I would pay for it with a piece of my soul.

Everyone’s bloodstreams were ripe with spirits by the time we entered 219, a cigar bar closer to the water.

Already euphoric from the company, the smell of cigar smoke tickling at my nose and the rich timbre of Delta Blues coming from the live band nearly sent me over the edge.

We all assembled closest to the musicians, the guys pushing together a table and a booth that we might gather more comfortably. Marie and Patrick sat across from each other, with Matt next to Marie, Mike next to Matt, Me next to Mike, and Jill wedged between me and Patrick.

I hope you paid attention to the seating chart.

It’s important.

Mike and I were taking turns attempting to talk over the music, we were all drinking various bourbon concoctions, and I was trying desperately to appreciate the merits of a cigar I was not supposed to inhale.

After thirty minutes or so had passed, I went upstairs to find the bathroom, locking myself inside a stall to check my messages.


That’s a lie.

I went upstairs to fuck around with Twitter, okay.

I left my party, briefly, to go upstairs and tweet, okay?

Endeavor not to judge me, there’s a story to be had.

So, right—

I was leaning against the wall of the stall, tweeting my little tipsy heart out when a fearsome knock interrupted my thoughts.

Realizing that I was hogging the space, and unable to properly assess how long I’d been inside, on account of my near drunkenness, I opened the door, and quickly prepared to offer the offended knocker a stream of apologies.

Before me stood a middle aged white woman, slight of frame, with long, brunette hair. Her brow was furrowed, and a concerned look adorned her face.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “Do you need to use the stall? I’m just using my phone. I’m so sorry.”

She rushed to answer. “No, I don’t have to use it. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. I followed you up here.”

I paused, momentarily, not entirely certain of what she meant, or why she would have had cause to follow me anywhere, but, I disregarded. “Oh, no. I’m fine. I just wanted to check my messages.”

She began again, appearing to struggle with her words. “I mean….it’s just…I mean….are you sure? Are you sure you’re okay? I’ve been watching you all night, and I’ve been so worried. Are you sure you’re okay?”

Her choice of words struck me as odd. Had I stumbled? Was my speech coherent? I wasn’t certain, but I wanted to assure her of my okayness, and be the hell about my business. “Really, I’m fine. Truly.”

I attempted to move past her but she was unwavering, resolute in her stance, not moving at all. “My boyfriend told me not to come up here, but I’ve just been so worried. I see you with those guys and it just takes me back to college and I’m just so worried about you. I need to make sure you’re okay.”

Okay bitch. What.The.Fuck.

I looked at her quizzically. “Um, I promise that everything is okay. Really. I was just—“

“Because I see you with them, and I see them giving you drinks, and I just need to know that you’re okay. I keep having these flashbacks to college,” she interrupted.

This woman is crazy.

I tried to begin again, “I don’t really know what that means, but those are my friends, down there, and everything is okay. I promise. Really, I’m fine. I appreciate the concern, but I’m fine.”

She waved away my assurances. “I see you with them, and I just worry, you know? I worry because I see you, and I see them, and you know…you’re…you know…and they’re…..and you’re…..and I get these flashbacks to college….and you’re….you know…”

And that’s when it hit me.

I couldn’t believe it.

I relaxed my stance (I had been considering the chest-bump-shoulder-push-hood-maneuver).

“Because I’m…….black?” I asked, gently as I could.

She lowered her eyes. “Yes. Oh my God. This is so awkward. My boyfriend told me not to come up here, but I was so worried. And those guys were giving you drinks and I didn’t know if you were safe, and I kept thinking that they were going to hurt you…and I didn’t know…” she rambled.

I tried to remove as much condescension from my voice as possible. “I’m fine. I went to law school with those men. They’re old friends. They’re not going to hurt me. Everything is fine. I promise you.”

Her face scrunched up. “Law school?” she asked.

“Law school,” I repeated.

“How old are you?” she asked.

“Thirty,” I answered.

She began to sniffle. “Oh, God! I’m so embarrassed. You all look so young.”

“Those guys are older than me, actually,” I said. “They’re both married, and are actually amazing people. So, everything is okay. I promise.”

I could see her face flush as she came to realize  how much of her ass she’d shown. “I just….oh! I just saw you, and I saw them, and I thought….oh! My boyfriend said not to! Ohmygodpleasedon’ttellthemwhatIsaid! Please, please!!!”

I just looked at her, not knowing whether to pity her or to laugh. “I won’t tell them. But I should go. They’re probably wondering where I am.”

“Okay,” she said, finally moving aside, and relenting. “You’re sure you’re okay, though?”


Nevermind the fact that there were two other women in our party.

Nevermind the fact that I was jovially laughing, having a grand ole time.

Nevermind the fact that I was a grown ass woman who assured her, repeatedly, that I was okay.

I was just a black girl in the company of white men.

And everyone knows that can only be a formula for one thing—

AWWWWW cheea….

Raping and pillaging like a mu-fuckkka!!!!

Listen up, Caucasians.

I’m from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Home of the Stonewall Jackson Shrine.

Home of the why-don’t-we-have-Confederate-History-Month?-stream of logic.

I don’t need your help on the I’m-not-sure-if-we-can-entirely-trust-Whitey bandwagon.

I’ve got this.

“Post-racial America” has y’all turning on each other, and I’m not ready for it.

Please have a meeting, and address this as soon as possible.

And to my mystery would-be-good-Samaritan:

I don’t know what in the holy fuck Klan-sponsored college you went to, but DEMAND financial reimbursement.



7 Responses to “(White) brothers in arms…damnit, Barack.”

  1. October 7, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Smh. Ridiculous. I actually feel sorry for the woman. Poor thing.

  2. 2 Lactose the Intolerable
    October 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Yep… NoVa… That’s why I love hanging out there (read: don’t even consider visiting)

    p.s. Don’t sweat the whole tweeting-on-the-throne thing. A lot of people do their best thinking that way.

  3. 3 gannsberg
    October 7, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Letting down of one’s guard can always be perilous enterprise in this “post racial” society. For instance, we met a nice mixed couple attending my daughter’s soccer practice (husband white/ wife asian) and the wife starts chatting up my wife. So which one is yours? (Mind you we are the only proverbial raisin family in a bowl of oatmeal–whose daughter is the tallest child on the field due to my height of 6’5″ and wifey’s height of 5’9″–but I digress we could have adopted and someone else could have possibly adopted our lil amazonian); Where do live: (off of North Capitol); Where do the kids go to school: (Catholic School off of Mass. Ave by the cathedral); inordinately long pause of reflection.

    wait for it……

    wait a little more……

    So this lady surmises (and does not keep this thought to herself mind you) or so you all got vouchers?

    Really? That’s the next question? Not the typical fuckery like: So what do you do, where did you attend school, you know the basic innocuous questions hurled at all blacks to feel them out.

    Just straight up boldness: Did we receive vouchers!!!! lol

    My wife didn’t even realize she was insulted immediately, and just reached for a quizzical look of “um no…..we pay tuition on a monthly basis” I told her if it was my smart ass, I would have kept the confused look and made her tell me exactly what vouchers are like I was a foreigner….

    Anyway, the lady also felt compelled to tell us that she applied for another Catholic School and they were rejected. (Who the hell gets rejected from grade school; moreover, who the hell tells someone their kid was rejected from grade school?!!!!)

    Anecdotes I have aplenty!

  4. October 14, 2010 at 1:06 am

    I really didn’t see this one coming.

  5. 5 Yem
    October 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    lol@ the refund.

  6. 6 Donn
    November 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Please on the condescension. The woman was showing genuine concern.

    If her genuine concern is about sixty years out of date that makes no difference. I might feel sorry for her; I might wonder to myself what decade – and it wasn’t so long ago – she had just stepped out of to arrive here. But I wouldn’t dis on her.

    She was caring and checking on you. The response – other than feeling sorry that she considered it such a necessity to be afraid for the safety of someone having a good time with friends – is uncalled for.

    About the holy fuck Klan-sponsored college [she] went to, you might want to think about how the actual Klan would have handled that situation.

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a history of my meanderings….


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