Something happened today that I can’t seem to stop thinking about, and so I have decided that the best solution would be for me to share it with you. At 11:00, my school breaks for tea and my classmates and I always go and sit outside for a snack and a chat. This is a time for relaxation, for catching-up, and generally for talking rubbish. Today, however, our valuable chill-session was interrupted by a nameless checked-shirt wearing newspaper-carrying yoghurt-eating young guy, who was intent on ruining our precious 30 minute break. Now I like to think of myself as a pretty open and friendly person, so when this stranger asked if he could join our table for some company, I was the first one to make a space for him. For once, I regret being brought up with manners.
The guy – who, to make things easier, I am going to name Theodore – sits down and immediately opens his newspaper to an article about the ongoing textbook saga in Limpopo. He then proceeds to rant on at length about how shocking it is that the book “50 Shades of Grey” is being circulated throughout the country and yet our children aren’t getting any textbooks, and how do we feel about this situation? Yes, he has a point, and yes, I’m sure that it is a pretty interesting topic of discussion to have at a dinner party with like-minded friends, but this is not how one starts up a conversation with a group of people you have never met. We all stare at him blankly and I mumble something about it being shocking, and then we quickly move onto a more light-hearted topic of conversation. To which he says that he is obviously much older than us (he’s 20) and proceeds to ask if we are all in high school ... because obviously only high school students wouldn’t want to have a political exchange with a complete stranger, right?
Trying not to be too miffed, we valiantly try to continue chatting about idyll nonsense and the topic turns to surfing. So my friend Zach (who is coloured) says that when he goes in the sea his hair turns into a complete afro. I, being the sometimes not-so-proud owner of masses of curly locks myself, know exactly how he feels and so I say that maybe I should have been born coloured because of my hair. To which Theodore tells me that I am a racist. Oh, and that he can’t believe that I am using the race card which is so passé’ in today’s day and age. Before I can say a word, he begins another diatribe about how he was trying to put us into buckets (yes bucket, not boxes, buckets), but now that I said something racist he just doesn’t know where to place me. Clearly it should be in that rusty old bucket that’s wedged right in between rapists and serial killers.
I was not in the mood to get into an argument and I decide to ignore the *insert swear word of your own choice here* and try to enjoy the little bit of my break that is left. But oh no, clearly us racists are not allowed any relaxation time, because Theodore then chooses to tell us all about how he has decided to become a vegan (because we are so interested). Yes, he informs us that even his yoghurt is vegan yoghurt and that eating meat is lazy. We then get told that elephants and buffaloes eat only grass and they are huge, so that means that humans will not be malnourished if they only eat vegetables. For those of you who don’t know, I respect our right as individuals to freely make our own decisions, but do not start grandstanding about your own lifestyle choices and expect everybody else to convert just because you say so. Theodore was lucky that I was in a pretty placid mood, so instead of starting a fight I remembered my manners and completely zoned out while he continued to educate us about the benefits of ?Veganism? and how we were terrible people for eating meat. To which Zach turned to me and said that he felt like some ribs.
When it finally reached 11:30 (break has never before gone so slowly), we all walked away from Theodore in a total state of befuddlement. Who was that guy?! And where did he learn his social skills?! I keep on playing the exchange over and over in my head and the only conclusion that I can come to is that his rudeness and pomposity must be because he is black. And I can say that, because I am such a racist.