Today I had a sweet couple from China, who had just arrived from Vegas on a typical West Coast tour. After losing $100 in Vegas and visiting the outlet shops, they asked for my advice on a fish tackle shop to find a gift for the girl’s fisherman father. I said “If you want to find the perfect gift for a fisherman, you are talking to the right guy!” Then I looked up fishing store on Yelp because they were talking to the wrong guy. I’ve never fished for anything but a compliment.
So anyway, adorable and charming little couple, describing their journey and asking for recommendations on where to go next. Their eyes lit up about New York, Boston, and Miami, but when I suggested Chicago, they visibly recoiled.
“Oh, no… too many black people…”
“Oh…,” I said nodding and wide-eyed, like you do when you’re being supportive and overly-affirming to a foreigner struggling with the language.
To a native English speaker, I’d have nervous laughed and said something like “Did you just say too many blacks?” But to someone with a thick Chinese accent struggling to speak English, I just smiled and said “Yes but just the right amount of deep dish pizza…”
In my mind I wanted to add “But New York also has a buttload of blacks, and honestly if you’re avoiding blacks you should probably steer clear of every major city in the U.S. And PS: how many is too many? Also you can’t say stuff like that, because it’s actually pretty racist and offensive. Especially coming from a Chinese couple — because you’re terrible drivers but I wouldn’t say that out loud because that’s racist. I mean I said it right there, because I was making a point.”
But seriously, can you imagine rush hour in Shanghai?
I probably should have taken a stand or at least pressed for clarification — I feel like I missed out on a potential Rosa Parks moment. (Although frankly, I don’t know Rosa Parks’ whole backstory on her back of the bus story. Maybe she took a shine to the married bus driver and wanted to sit in front because she’s a slutty home wrecker. Maybe she saw a spider in the back of the bus and moved to the front because she’s just a fraidy-cat. We’ll never know the real story).
All I know is that if I had suggested San Francisco and they had said “Oh no — too many gays…” I would have gone OFF. (And by gone off, I mean watched TV with a glass of wine).
Anyway, I just shrugged and withdrew to my bedroom, as my charming but racist guests headed up to discover the Walk of Fame.
I probably should’ve given them a heads-up…