Have you ever been to the bar with a beer commercial/college brochure mix of varied ethnicities and whatnot, only to learn that one of the white guys can totally relate to all of the prejudices faced by other genders/races/orientations? And that, he himself, is far above such base feelings of discrimination, and willing to provide several examples of how culturally diverse his personal universe is? And who, in the process of explaining how he reached this enlightened state, manages to convey several inappropriate words/philosophies/concepts? Can we all agree that this guy is one of the worst types of drinkers – a worse social companion than The Head-Butter, The Suicidal Guy or The Jersey Ultimate Fighter?
Unfortunately, Friday night, I was that guy. My drinking personas rotate quite a bit, and thankfully I’ve moved past my Guy Who Takes Off His Shirt stage, given that I generally now only wear tee shirts and don’t think anyone is really that interested in seeing the foliage that hits various formerly un-hirsute areas as you (rapidly) age. Most of the time now I’m either Inappropriately Loud Guy or Guy Who Wants To Go Home, so Enlightened White Guy was an unexpected changeup. Even though I started out carefully, EWG reared his ugly head later on.
I knew my SO had friends in town and that there was a dinner obligation involved, which she wisely teased with another friend’s birthday party; going out both nights of the weekend is strictly for the college kids. I started the weekend with a healthy attitude – lunch was a scrawny 6 inch sub from Subway (as prolific in NYC as ads for The Beautiful Life – RIP) and I hit the gym in the late afternoon for a moderate workout. An impressive and mature beginning to the weekend, befitting my status as an old-ass person.
Then my friend J-Winnie called and suggested drinks at the Flatiron (a bar I’ve been thrown out of before, but we have patched up our differences), which is right in my neighborhood. So I could totally meet him for a few beverages and then head to dinner at some frou-frou Mexican place at 9:00 PM. So far, so good. While discussing the plusses and minuses of R-8s and GT-Rs, I started to have a little martini envy. The G&T wasn’t really cutting it so I moved to Bombay martinis for the next couple rounds. I was holding up quite well, having only had three drinks after two hours. We moved confidently to the Mexican joint for some margaritas, tacos and sweet, sweet chorizo fundito. I was in perfect shape after dinner; I could easily have driven the cab to the bar or even worked air traffic control in a pinch.
It all really fell apart for me at the bar. After another martini I then made a horrible switch to red bull and vodkas with a jager shot sidecar. (The bar kind of screwed me by not having goldschlager or rumple minze – I have built up an immunity to those foul nectars and can generally put any drinking companions/competition out of commission quickly with their help. Jager? Not so much.) So what is the point of all this? Oh yeah, SO’s friend was gay and had a few friends with him. So I managed to put at least three people through a slurred “I’m so cool with gay people, I can’t imagine what all the fuss is about – like who gives a shit what other people do? I’m from Arkansas where people get real up in arms about that stuff but I am fucking cool as shit with it. I have like 800-900 great gay friends and if I ever have kids I’m hoping they turn out to be gay. And I live in Chelsea, so I’m like seriously in the community and super cool with everything and stuff.”
Having established how cool I am with people doing whatever they want in the boudoir, I then related the hilarious anecdote of how I was messing with my SO, trying to make her fear I would say something inappropriate by asking her: “what kind of drinks do you think those homos will like?” “Ha-ha! That’s hilarious! I would never do that for real, of course, because I know what it’s like to have to deal with discrimination and shit. But, say, is “homo” an illegal word? Seems like it should be okay, really, right? It’s like shorthand, no? It’s sad how “gay” has evolved to the point where it means “lame,” right? It’s not even reflective of orientation anymore, really, right? What do you like to be called?”
The above paragraph doesn’t accurately reflect the slurring and repetition of the ideas and sentences that was going on. I’ve slipped into this persona before, much to the dismay of some of my poor non-white friends who had to hear me opine on how great it is that racism no longer exists anywhere in America. “I know what it’s like to be black in America – I own all the Chappelle’s Show DVDs.” I fucking hate Enlightened White Guy – I think he kind of means well but he just won’t leave it alone and doesn’t choose his words well. I should probably hit the gym a little (lot) harder, maybe get some waxing done, and just go back to being The Guy Who Takes Off His Shirt.
Here is an actual revelatory text message Enlightened White Guy sent to a bunch of people Friday night from my phone:
Honestly I might like gay dudes better than straight dudes. They generally want to get f&cked up and they’re cool as shkt and will tell you when you shirt is for sh&t
(I had on a shirt featuring a single diagonal stripe (about 4 inches wide). If horizontal stripes make you look fat, and vertical make you look thin, I figured I’d keep it realer than real with a diagonal swath. I didn’t want to mislead anyone about my weight. Also, I had previously thought of marketing a similar shirt as it would always look like you had a seat belt on, so you could potentially avoid a ticket if you are one of the morons who’s morally opposed to wearing a seat belt.)
What to do if you are ever seated next to The Enlightened White Guy at a bar? Maintain some open space for lateral movement AT ALL TIMES. Do not look him directly in the eye, lest he feels that his moronic empathetic (heavy on the pathetic) speech is hitting home. Attempt to change the subject to sports or the movie Wild Things. If all other evasive efforts fail, go ahead and spill your drink on yourself and say you are going home.
Anyway, that night cost me basically the rest of the weekend. I am still feeling some ill effects, but I soldier on. I’ve got a post coming up on Business School interviewing season, that bitch is gonna hit the net this afternoon.
Full Disclosure: I have tons of friends of all colors, ethnicities, orientations, intelligence levels and positions above and below the poverty line. Enlightened White Guy is not reflective of my real life situation. I do not discriminate – except for teenagers who have several kids. That kind of pisses me off. And the French. But you can give French people tons of shit and it’s never a problem (even in the workplace).
Fuller Disclosure: I don’t have that many friends.