A friend recently asked me if I date white guys. My awkward answer was I don't know.
I used to. All the time. My first love was 6', blond, and blue-eyed. Bless that man. He set the standard for attraction for several years. But the reality is that it's become increasingly difficult for me to date white men.
My edges are sharper and I have less interest in explaining to my date that there are multiple countries in South Asia and Africa where people who look like me come from. Can't I just drink this latte and bat my lashes?
But here we are, on this date, and you are telling me that you like my bindi. I cringe, I look away. I hear my friend Megan telling me "Use kindness Meech. Don't make him feel ashamed just because he doesn't know something. Use kindness."
I'm breathing, I'm using kindness. I'm letting the conversation move on and away from your non-knowing, North Indian, neocolonialism and staying present to the heart that you imbue. This man's vulnerability is so deep. He's really showing up for this date.
Except then he does it again. His eyes are roaming my face. "You're looking at something," I say. "You have beautiful eyes," he says. (Well, shoot! #hairflip) "And your bindi's so pretty." At this point, I choose honesty. "You know it's really hurtful when you use that word," I say. He's aghast. Apologetic. Wanting to understand. "Educate me," he says. The words hung like twinkling stars in a nursery rhyme I may never get to sing to my children.
"I don't know if I want to," I say. "I mean I will, but I don't know if I want to." He looks confused. And I get it. I get that he doesn't get it. He doesn't get that I don't want the responsibility to educate to be a requirement of my existence. Not on a date, not here.
[caption id="attachment_16101" align="aligncenter" width="385"] Artwork by Hatecopy.[/caption]
I move past my feelings of bleh and share with him my feelings on the word bindi and why I prefer the word pottu. "Pottu," he repeats. "Your pottu is so pretty." And here he gets one more shot.
"So tell me what you like about my pottu!" I say. I am waiting to hear that he likes the shape. The symmetry is so round. Or maybe he likes the velvety texture. These are things I like about my pottu. I am curious as to what interesting things my date sees that I have missed. "Your pottu makes you unique," he says. "It sets you apart from everyone else."
Oh GAWD bruh. You might as well call me exotic. This date is officially over. But I am appreciative - of this man and of this date - because I received some damn deep opportunities. I got to practice showing up with kindness.
I got to practice holding my needs without shaming the person who wasn't meeting them.
Feature image courtesy of Easy Freezy.
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