The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

My Photo
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Unexpected Purchase

Just a short time ago I went to Ralphs. This is not a particularly exciting introduction, but I assure you that the absurdity will quickly ensue. While I certainly wouldn’t consider Ralphs to be among the more threatening places I’ve ever been, this particular encounter made me re-consider how I was making this qualification. As I have learned from this experience, any place is capable of containing questionable characters and brewing situations of the most unfriendly sorts within a society that continues to cultivate intolerance.
As I was pushing the grocery cart down the aisle one of my friends had directed me towards, a rather ordinary-looking middle-aged woman walked up to me and asked me if I went to LMU. I of course said yes. No sooner did I reply did she begin to share with me her apparent frustration with the students. After several minutes of this banter, I came to realize that she did not have any horrendous experience which instilled these views in her mind (of which I had been waiting to hear of), they were rather the stereotypes of the school as a whole and were in no way applicable to our particular group.
She asked, “How are you shopping? Do your parents give you stipends or something?” to which I replied, “no. We work.” She was astonished for some reason or another, but this did not deter her from continuing her rant. She asked me where we were from, what we were studying, and what we intended on doing with those ridiculous majors. After this she continued to give her input on what we ought to be learning “for that shit-load of money [we’re] paying,” and told us where she thought we were from and what we looked like we should be studying (in the most rude and condescending of manners). Apparently I’m from the east coast and studying pre-med.
It is important to note at this point in time that I was dressed reasonably well. I was wearing a collared shirt, an argyle sweater, and a pair of brown suede shoes. It was from this that she determined that I was not only wealthy, from the east coast, and studying pre-med, but that I was also gay. While she did not state this directly, it was inferred in so many different ways. For example, she gave the forcefully kind suggestion that we go shopping separately. She pointed to us one at a time, “you go one week, you go two weeks later, and you two weeks from then. That’s how you should do it. You really shouldn’t shop together around here,” she said in what I might venture to call a threatening tone.
It was only after this that she began personal attacks. She told me how un-cool I looked and asked me how I ever expected to get any girls looking like that (sarcastically of course). She went down the line of my friends again. “He’s cool, he’s cool, he’s alright…but YOU!?” And I thought I was loved by senile, middle-aged women everywhere. Where could I have gone wrong?
As she continued her tirade of insults, tossing one out after another, she began to say “and that sweater…” at which point in time, one of my friends who was standing to my left and had not said so much as a word during the entire encounter said in an abnormally flamboyant voice, “You shut up bitch. I bought him that sweater,” put his arm around me and we walked to the next aisle; a perfectly bro-mantic ending to our shopping excursion.
I sincerely hope that she was some sort of anomaly. As a white male I am not often subjected to attacks of prejudice and never before have I been the aim of such an array. I am fortunate that this occurrence is a laughing matter to me, but what truly frightens me is the amount of ignorance and intolerance of all sorts which continues to thrive in the United States and contaminates every crevice of our society, even poor Ralphs. As a Caucasian man, as a heterosexual, as a poor college student with not a dollar to his name, my only regret from this encounter is not allowing myself to use my voice, to be the agent of social change that I know is needed. I ask our society for forgiveness for my inaction and I also ask all those who are so fortunate to have a voice to use it now. We need it more than you might think.

-Samuel Hollin



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home