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Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
A (don't kick the) Bucket List - 2014-10-28
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7:05 p.m. - 2013-12-21
I've always had a 'White' Christmas

Tis the season...to bash 'Love Actually'. The tenth anniversary has brought out critics and detractors by the score. Grinches, naysayers, seems everybody with a gripe about this movie has come out loud and proud this year. Now let me state right up front I adore 'Love Actually'. No duh, right? That LA the movie mush would love the ultimate smushy-gushy cinematic bonbon? Gee, let me faint from the surprise, not! But even the LA the fan girl has a beef with 'Love Actually'. And no, it's not the silliness of Colin Frissel the horny dirtbag finding a horde of model-perfect Anglophile dimwits in a bar in Wisconsin or Colin Firth's character managing to learn pretty darn good Portuguese in a matter of days, nope, my problem is the bit with Hugh Grant going door-to-door in the dodgy end of Wandsworth. The guy is the fricken Prime Minister! He couldn't make a phone call and find out Natalie's exact address? She worked at 10 Downing Street, for Christ's sake! You'd assume she'd been vetted by the Brit Secret Service and that her address would be on file somewhere. Yes it gives Hugh Grant yet another opportunity to be affably adorable (extemporaneous in-person well wishing to the electorate, carol singing, etc) but the idea that he'd knock on doors and drag his cute world leader butt the entire length of that absurdly long street before finally chancing upon Natalie's house (101 doors later!) is too stupid, even for me.

Aside from that niggling little bit of absurdity I go with the flow and let the hilarious, heartbreaking wonderfulness of 'Love Actually' wash over me in total immersion bliss. The line that reduces me to a howling mess of boogers, tears, and empathetic nodding every goddamn time?

"Would you wait around to find out if it's just a necklace or if it's sex and a necklace or if, worst of all, it's a necklace and love? Would you stay, knowing life would always be a little bit worse? Or would you cut and run?"

Been there. Done that.

I am 99% finished with my shopping. Haven't started wrapping yet. I'll do that in a whopping marathon on Monday while Mick and Wolf are out doing their secret Santa biz for me. I'll likely scoot off tomorrow and pick up the last few bits and bobs I'd like to get. Nothing essential, just nice touches to round out the goodies already to hand.

Yesterday I was at a dollar store getting stocking stuffers and the young man in front of me at the check-out was grocery shopping. I was dumbfounded. There I was buying squirt guns and novelty teeth and this tidy but obviously hard against it young black man was buying food. At the dollar store. His items were all pastas and frozen meals-in-a-bag, canned stews and powdered drink mixes. He kept tabs on his total with anxious queries to the cashier. When it reached $40 he had her stop. There were still five or six things on the conveyor belt, mostly frozen vegetable medleys. Distressed, I said for the cashier to keep going I'd pick up the rest. The young man refused. Graciously, but still. I was frantic. I said to him, "But it's vegetables! Please. You should have the vegetables!" He turned me down again. With thanks, but quite firmly. Then he dug and pawed and dug some more in obviously empty pockets for the change to cover the sales tax. He told the cashier to take something off his bill. Unable to keep still I pulled a single from my wallet and handed it to the cashier. "For the tax." The young man made to refuse me again and I stared him down. "Young man, I'd like to think that if my son were in your place he'd accept a kindness from a mother whose son is all grown and gone from home. So hush now." He hushed. Then gathering up his groceries he thanked me and wished me a Merry Christmas. I returned it.

Shook me to the core. Food. That young man was buying food from the dollar store at Christmas. And there I was with my scented candles and bag of shiny ribbon bows and a Slinky. I sort of understood his mindset but it hurt me that he wouldn't let me pay for some frozen carrots. I'd been poor and proud once too. But I had to wonder if he had been white or if I'd been black it would have gone differently. I hated that race might have been the deciding vote. I know for myself I'd have offered to treat for the vegetables regardless of the color or gender of the young person in line in front of me, but maybe to him I looked like Ms Fancy Lady Bountiful White Lady and my offer of help was seen through a racial lens.

I don't know. Privilege is on my mind a lot these days and maybe I'm being hyper-sensitive. What I do know was when I was leaving Sam's yesterday the woman in line ahead of me was about par with me for dress and age but the girl checking receipts at the exit door went over every single item in her cart. Picking things up, looking beneath, checking and rechecking against the register tape. Making sure there wasn't anything in there which hadn't been paid for. Then I wheeled up and the girl gave my cart a brief glance, made her mark on my receipt and sent me on my way with a smile and a "Happy Holidays!"

WTF?

The only difference between me and the woman in front of me was skin color. Two middle-aged women with great hair and stylish accessories. One a white woman, one a black woman. Yet her cart had been searched with Gestapo-like thoroughness and mine was given a pass with barely a glance.

You cannot tell me this wasn't a prime example of white privilege. Me with my nice teeth and good handbag and white skin. I used to get the privilege of being young and beautiful too. And I never really saw it until recently. I moved through life going to the head of the line, getting my freebies and discounts and on the rare occasions I was pulled over by cops going on my merry way with a playful finger wag and a warning. No traffic tickets or arrests for LA. Nope. Store detectives never trail me around. Bank mangers cash my checks and waive the fees. It wasn't that I believed this special treatment was my due, I honestly didn't know it wasn't like this for everybody.

Nowadays I'm seeing how easy my ride has been and still is in many ways. And I'm wondering what I can do, what I should do about it.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Input appreciated.


Many thanks, ~LA


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