No alarms and no surprises, please.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Open Letter to the old dude at the italian deli

Obama Chia Pet

Dear Old Dude,

The following is not a funny joke:

So, I was at walgreen's the other day and I saw the Obama Chia Pet. Be the first one in your hood to get one!

It's not funny. That's mostly why I didn't laugh. That's mostly why the two other people you told that joke to while I was waiting for my Chicken Santore sub didn't laugh either. It made us uncomfortable. You made us uncomfortable. That shit was not cool.

Now, in your defense, it wasn't you that had the idea "hey, black president! Let's make a Chia Pet!" Someone else did that and, frankly, I think it's kinda fucked up. But as I drove back to my office, I remember thinking about your joke (which adds the "first in your hood" reference) and wondering why you thought it was funny?

Here's one idea I came up with.

Perhaps you feel that the world has passed you by (it has). Maybe you think that the things you hold dear (racial segregation) are going the way of the rotary phone (it is). You probably think that this has made our country less than it was in the good ol' days (it hasn't) and you feel isolated in your dismay at a world that's, in your eyes, going down the tubes. So, you construct a crappy, unfunny joke and it's a litmus test. Whether it's funny or not is not the point. You can go around and tell this joke to folks and try and find people that feel the same way as you. You can almost immediately see in their eyes if they're thinking to themselves "move along you unfunny fuck" or "Yes! Someone gets it! Black people shouldn't be president!" And when you find that person you can cling to each other like two castaways in a raging sea of racial equality. Perhaps then you can use a terribly unfunny bit of gallows humor to share your bitterness over a loss of status and reminisce about the days when black people didn't raise our taxes, they parked our cars at restaurants and carried our luggage at the airport.

Is that it? If so, I almost feel a little bad that you didn't find any other members of the oppressed majority to commiserate with at my favorite italian deli. Even the guy behind the counter who owns the place (I think) and is about the same age as you didn't sign on. After you walked away, he and I shared a raised-eyebrow "what the fuck was that" look. We were both very happy you stopped talking to us. While I can't agree with your feelings over Obama, I get the loneliness and fear, old dude.

I kind of hope that's what it is. Because the only other idea I could come up with is that you're an unfunny racist asshole.