Friday, September 02, 2005
The Culture Exchange at Exxon
Man, I love America.

I love that a place can be so diversified. So political. The home of so many polar opposites. The land made up of the riff-raff of the world.

Over the centuries, the Irish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Chinese, Japanese, and all sorts of other diseased barbarians came to America. Don't get offended. I'm part five of these six ethnicities. Anyway, here they came and kinda went back to their own cultures and kinda adapted to new ones.

By the way, we're not a melting pot. We're a mixed salad. People tend to stick their own kind.

Okay, so my point? I made those above comments to buffer the reactions I'm going to get when readers go forward from here. Those paragraphs are a disclaimer: I am not racist, nor am I one of those America-is-so-much-Better type-supremists.

Here goes:

If you come to this country to live, DO NOT expect me to put up with YOUR cultural shit!!

If you are Mexican or Latino or Venezualan or Cuban or WHATEVER: do not whistle at me and say, "ooooomuybonita" when I walk by. Do not undress me with your eyes. Do not press your dirty hands against my bottom while in line at Exxon. My father tried to explain this behavior.

"In their culture, it's a compliment. You have to understand, it's very much a partriarchy in the Latin World."
Like I care. This is America, and the next time I get one of those 'oolala' comments, I'm gonna take my purse and start wailing on 'em.

This is a true story. It just happened to me. Like two hours ago.

Michael and I are driving back from dinner. I go to Exxon (not for gas, but smokes). I'm driving the Scion. Michael sits in the passenger seat.
I go into the store. It is empty except for the clerk. He is African; I know this because of his name tag and his accent. He is quite articulate.
I get a Frappacino. I go up to the counter, where the bullet proof glass is and say hello, may I please have a pack of Camel Special Lights? The clerk grabs the smokes and asks for my ID.

I pass it to him. He passes it back. I hand him my ATM card and then he says,
"Wait. Was that really you in the picture?"
I have a ballcap on, so I take it off, "Yeah, it's me."
"Oh," he says, "You've gained a lot of weight!"

Ummm. Since when is it okay for people who are taking my money to tell me what's wrong with my body? Yeah, I'm sensitive about my wieght. So, I say as sarcastically as possible,
"Gee. Thanks for pointing that out."
"No problem!" he says, "You should run. You should run like twice a week. Then, you'll look good again!"
I walk out, almost in tears.
"Please come back to see me!"

Once I get into the car after Michael beat a meth addict away (no, really, a meth addict was hanging on to the door handle of my car--I'm gonna have to wash it), I told him what happened. He was mad for me. Sweet guy.

I worked one summer in a housing project in Omaha, Nebraska. I was a camp counselor for the not-for-profit group Campfire Boys and Girls. I know, it's scary. I was a counselor. Anyway, most of the kids were immigrants from the Sudan, and the rest were African-American. Man, did those two groups hate each other. The American kids would call the Sudanese 'niggers'. I just didn't understand.
One little girl, N'taye, was taunted and teased mercilessly. She still wore her hair in the traditional style of 'clean-shaven', I suppose to cut down on pests. Not only were the Americans awful to her, but the Sudanese were, too. She had it tough. But she never let them get to her. She always went home with her chin held high and a retort to a taunt right behind her lips. N'taye was my hero that summer.
Anyway, the Sudanese are extremely patriarchal. They still treat women like livestock. Girls are never as good as men. Women are constantly told they are too fat, too skinny, not pretty. These are the same group of people (but certainly not the only) that practice female genital mutilation. This barbaric practice is done when a girl first menstruates. Her clitoris is sliced off, and her vagina sewn closed with twine. Many girls die of infection. The purpose of the practice is to ensure that women know they may not derive any pleasure from sex, and are only vessels for men's use. The sewing of the vagina ensures the woman has not had sex with a man before she is married, because the groom must break through the twine on the wedding night.

Yeah, just a little male-dominated.

Anyway, I guess I just got pissed because that clerk didn't realize how insulting he was. He had no concept that in this country, you don't talk to a woman that way. You don't make her feel awkward and ugly because of a flaw, especially when she is buying something from you.

So, the next time I bitch about men in America? Yeah, remind me of the gas station. Remind me what it COULD be like.

I still want to punch that guy right in his smug little mouth with my big arm.

Yeah, I'm one of the fat kids.
Written by FRITZ
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Name: Fritz

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