I was at Borders yesterday, stopping in to sign Were-Wiener stock, and grabbed a coffee. The woman who waited on me was wearing a headscarf, and she said “I love your jacket!”

I really wanted to say “I love your hijab.” Because it was really pretty, damnit, and the fabric was awesome.

But I didn’t, because the internal editor on my brain, who is out sick seven days out of ten, was actually on the job today and choked me off, saying She’ll probably think you’re being sarcastic.


I should’ve said it. There were no politics attached to it at all. I just really like magenta.

There are too many things I don’t say out of cowardice, or because I know that to do so is to run whooping into the quicksand. For example, I have seen so many Indian women with that marvelous olive-dark skin that’s just so…the color…mmm!…and I would like to say “Your skin is beautiful, and if we lived in a world where we could pick our skin tones…oh man, I would be there in a heartbeat.” Except I don’t, because that sounds like I am horribly ignorant of the systemic discrimination suffered by non-white people and I KNOW that there’s a massive market for skin-whitening products in India for just that reason, and that leads to discussions of white privilege and thence to discussions that exceed both my patience and my vocabulary but which probably involve the word “post-modernist” a lot, and goddamnit, all I wanted to say was “You’re beautiful.”  (And can wear really bright colors and make it look good.)

Sigh. The world is too bloody complicated. I should probably just say what I mean, and trust to the fact that I am clearly harmless, well-meaning, and none-too-bright to carry me through any resulting awkwardness.

2 thoughts on “Cowardice

  1. Wark says:

    From the LJ comments: “But you made the mistake of vaguely mentioning race, which means you get an obligatory lecture on racism.

    At a guess… nearly this, but it’s not just “obligatory lecture,” it’s “obligatory lecture from the people who have Catholic-sized guilt about the cards they drew” plus “PTSD fallout from the people who have been traumatized for the cards they drew.” Because we’ve reached the unfortunate stage, as Americans, where we still have all those awful lurking vipers under the floorboards concerning our relations to other demographics, and we feel REALLY BAD about it, but the hassle of renovating the house so the exterminator can get at said vipers and oh god think of the bill has us hiding in our beds with the covers up over our heads.

    Sucks for everyone, really– “toasty muffins save me, another clueless white person whining about how they’re inconvenienced by racism” and “why did I just get flamed out of my own blog for writing a perfectly average post?” It’s probably best to just remind yourself that the laws of thermodynamics are firmly in effect and find something else to do.


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