This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

May 22, 2009

Ask Old School Friday

Filed under: Old School Friday, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — pprscribe @ 12:05 am


I am doing something a little different this week for Old School Friday. By the time this week’s theme comes out, I will be out of town and away from my computer. So, I have prepared an OSF post in advance and am scheduling it for release Friday for your listening and reading pleasure.

I have also come up with my own theme. It is said we live in an information age. I actually think we live in an opinion age, as true “information” is a lot harder to come by than someone’s guess, opinion, estimation, or advice. As such, there is a flourishing of advice columns, offering opinions to people who write or email in to request it. Well, thought I, why should Old School Friday not get in on this gig? After all, there is no question or quandary that a little music cannot answer. However, because no one has actually written in to PPR Scribe asking for my two cents, I have simply appropriated the questions from other folks’ advice columns.

First up is an advice seeker from Dan Savage’s popular Savage Love column. There are no profound reasons why I chose this particular question. It is just one of the few questions from Mr. Savage’s column appropriate for this PG-13-rated blog. A newlywed tells Dan:

My wife and I have been married for eight months, and I love her very much. However, we don’t have sex much, maybe three times a month. We’ve seen a therapist a few times, and it hasn’t changed anything. I still love her, but my needs haven’t been met and I’m frustrated. Due to my frustration, I posted an ad on Craigslist—not to cheat but to just get some erotic interaction via the web. I only sent a few pictures back and forth. However, my wife found the e-mails. I apologized and said I never wanted to be with anyone but her, but that I just wanted to feel like I was desired. My wife has asked me to move out for a while, which I did.

Are we effed? I know what I did was horrible, but I want to make this marriage work. I love her, and I don’t want this to end it.

This may not be the answer you are looking for, but I think your wife was being pretty clear when she “asked” you to leave the house. I think you may have added the “for a while” because you cannot face facts. So, yes: you two probably are effed. Or…not effed (by each other), as the case may be. At any rate, I would not be shopping for a one year anniversary gift for “Jill” any time soon.

But on the bright side, it sounds like you have found an alternative that works for you. I do not particularly recommend Craig’s List  for this purpose, but there are many opportunities to engage in very safe and (I hear tell) satisfying sexual relationships on-line. Why fight it? As long as you have the bandwidth and are careful about the potential for repetitive motion injuries—go for it! While you are pondering this possibility, you might want to listen to “Computer Love” by Zapp for inspiration and motivation. It very well could be that you will find that special girl (or guy) to share in your computer world. You no longer need search for any other strategy, thanks to modern technology!

Shooby doo bop shoo doo bop and thanks for your letter!

Now for another computer-related query:

DEAR ABBY: A few months ago, my friend and neighbor, “Jill,” told me how much she enjoyed an online mothers group she participated in, so I joined. Last week, Jill announced on the Web site that she’s pregnant with her second child. I congratulated her online, then congratulated her husband in person when I ran into him in the neighborhood later that day. He was flabbergasted. Apparently, Jill hadn’t told him about the baby!

Jill is now furious with me because I “spoiled her surprise” by revealing something that was supposed to be a secret. How could I have possibly known her pregnancy was secret? She posted it on the Internet! Jill claims any information exchanged in the online community should be confidential as it is never mentioned in the “real world.” I think she should have told her husband before telling her online friends.

How was I supposed to know this “rule” about privacy when it’s never discussed? And how do I fix our friendship?

Well, “Jill’s” ex-friend, sometimes people (I suspect) write letters to advice columns to hear what they want to hear and I think that may be the case with you. Of course you had no way of knowing that this woman would tell a bunch of folks on-line of her pregnancy before she even told her husband and (purported) father of her unborn child. Of course you are under no legal or moral obligation to keep news received on-line confidential. But

In this case you need to follow different rules than what you may be used to. Many people treat their on-line interactions like a time out of Time, a life out of Life. They use the internets as some kind of playground where normal rules do not necessarily apply. In this case, for all you knew “Jill” could have been making up an entire ghost pregnancy deal, real only in her on-line world. Or, she could have been engaging in performance art. Or, she had become pregnant through on-line relations with the previous letter writer to Dan Savage’s column.

The fact is: you do not know. Thus, a good rule of thumb for on-line relationships is to let everything you read on your computer screen go in one eye and out the other. Be like the Vegas hotel concierge: what happens on-line stays on-line. Pay no mind to what they say (on-line); it doesn’t matter anyway (on-line). Like the Go-Go’s, your lips should be sealed, always, with regard to anything you read from your friends on-line.

Thanks for your letter—and I wouldn’t be buying a baby shower gift any time soon.

I was not telling tales when I said that everyone is in on the advice-giving business. The following is a letter sent in to The Atlantic:

I have just realized fully, after seven years, that I am married to a racist. He’s used the “N word” a number of times over the years, and we always fought about it. But he has always claimed to be directing the slur toward somebody “acting” like one, and not toward people of color generally. Well, I recently learned how he truly feels. He voted for McCain and I voted for Obama. He said, “Looks like we have an ‘N’ for president.” I was saddened and disgusted by his remark. I don’t believe I can live with anyone who thinks like this, and I’m planning to get a divorce. This is not the only reason, but it’s certainly the icing on the cake. Do you think we can change racists’ minds?

Where to even begin? First of all, throw out the advice given to you by the columnist. “Racism isn’t a burden for us; it’s a burden for racists” is a bunch of poppycock. Racism is a burden for all of us—particularly all us people of color your husband is hurling the n-word at.

Now. Here again, I think you are looking with your letter for something besides advice. I think you may be looking for praise about how non-racist and progressive you are. OK. You are a wonderful, non-racist, progressive person—who voted for Barack Obama no less! Good for you, and here is your cookie! But…

I think it is unlikely that your husband has devolved into a raging racist or that you are only now “coming to realize” his tendencies. I think it is far more likely that you yourself are the one who has undergone a conversion regarding your attitude towards Black folks, fueled perhaps by the recent presidential campaign. (I am presuming both you and your husband are non-Black. I apologize if this assumption is incorrect.) There is nothing wrong with this. There were many stories during the campaign of formerly racist folks who resolved their cognitive dissonance around race by removing some of their former racist garb. Perhaps this has happened to you. And now, like the former smoker or born-again Christian or new Prius owner, you have little tolerance for people who are still lighting up and blaspheming in the old racist gas guzzler—your husband included.

OSF offers no advice for you on the marriage vs divorce front—although I do hope that you do not blame/credit your divorce on/to your husband being a racist. As you say, there are probably other issues at play, and the sooner you focus on and deal with these, the better your life will be. In the meantime, I would suggest that you model for your husband the proper words for people of African descent, as the n-word is not appropriate unless your name begins with “Lil” or “MC” and you have a million-dollar record deal. (And, IMO, not even then—although that is a different post altogether.) I think that if you listen repeatedly and even sing aloud to Aretha Franklin’s version of “Young, Giften and Black,” you may get the inspiration you need to deal with your husband’s bad verbal habit:

When you’re feeling really low
There’s a great truth you should remember and know
When you’re young, gifted and black
Your soul’s intact (and getting bigger)
And that’s a fact (and you are not a n*****…)

This may not change your husband’s heart and mind, but it may help you keep from slipping back into your (I am guessing) old ways. Thanks much for your letter. And thanks for your vote! (Although you do know that this action does not give you some sort of “get out of racism free” card—you still have much work to do…)

Finally comes this letter to an Essence magazine advice columnist:

My current boyfriend has the smallest penis of anyone I’ve been with. Can I do something to tighten my vagina? Or teach my man to work what he has—without hurting his ego?

I know that you expect me to comment on your expressed expertise with male anatomy. I first thought to go with a Prince song in which he relays the joke about the woman who asked her lover “Why is your organ so small” to which he replied “I did not know I’d be playing in a cathedral.” (Ba-doom-doom!) But in all seriousness. If it is really your concern that because of your previous sexual exploits you are now left with a certain…undesired roominess in your own cathedral, I do hear there are now cosmetic surgeries to downsize your…lodgings.

But I really don’t think that OSF should be recommending such drastic (and, IMO, unnecessary) action. I believe this may be a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence…or, the pipe organ seeming louder in the other sanctuary, as the case may be. You have heard the saying It isn’t the size of the boat, but the motion of the ocean, perhaps? Well, maybe your man could do more to compensate for the inadequate (for you) dimensions of his watercraft. A mega cruise liner does not necessarily make for a pleasant and exciting voyage.

If you do not believe me, then you should listen to Jean Knight testify about a man endowed with, apparently, “big stuff” but who was not all that. Like Ms. Knight, you should prefer to give your business to a tiny handyman who is a fine and attentive craftsman than to a big, burly carpenter who breaks his customers’ hearts, makes them cry, and leaves them with an invoice and unfinished job as big as his tool. When all a man has is a big, heavy hammer every project looks like a nail in a board. But when he has a box full of tools—Philips head screwdrivers and pneumatic drills and multiple grit sandpaper and power saws and pipe wrenches and tongue and groove pliers—why, there is no end to the exciting projects he can take on!

Anyway, I am out of rated PG-13 Ace Hardware metaphors, so—best of luck to you. Thanks for your letter!

Well, boys and girls, I think the mail bag is empty. I hope that OSF has provided some musical advice and encouragement this day. Have a great Memorial Day weekend and Happy Old School Friday!

**UPDATE** (5/25) As I said, I posted this in advance of the official OSF theme. For last week that theme was “This is dedicated to…” I’d like to belatedly dedicate this post to the creators of Old School Friday, and all of my fellow Old School Friday participants. No matter how annoyed by racial and other nonsense I am throughout the week I look forward to being able to blog with all of you on Fridays. All of your posts and songs always take me back and make me smile. And the theme fits perfectly with the one I went with here because there is no problem, no question, that OSF’ers cannot solve and answer with music!


As always, a big thank you to OSF hostesses, Marvalus at Conversations with Marva and MrsGrapevine. Please check out the rules for joining and list of other OSF participants here.


1 Comment »


    Comment by thescoop — May 22, 2009 @ 11:47 am

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