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The black man and his car

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 12.06.15 PMToday a man came to my house to fix the water heater. He was black, and driving a silver Mini Cooper.

“Sweet car!” I said. “Is that yours.”

The words hung there. And hung there. And hung there. Is that yours. Is that yours. Is that yours.

I’m not just saying this—what I meant by, “Is that yours?” was, “Is it a company car?” Because, most of the time, guys from the water heater company arrive in cars provided by the company. However, the water heater company isn’t handing out Mini Coopers. Obviously. Fuck, of course it was his car. Fuck. Fuck.

I wanted to say, “Listen, by ‘Is it a company car?’ I didn’t mean to imply that an African-American man can’t own a Mini Cooper. Heck, you look like a very smart man, so naturally the vehicle belongs to you. I mean, why wouldn’t it belong to you? By the way, have I mentioned that my brother-in-law is African-American? I mean, he’s not actually my brother-in-law any longer. He and my sister-in-law are divorced. But he’s a great guy, and he used to chill with us all the time. Not that there’s anything special about letting a black man chill with us. I mean, we didn’t ‘let’ him—he chose to. Because, of course, everyone has free choice. And I’m in favor of that. Heck, I’ve had black people use my bathroom. Not that I wouldn’t. Or that I shouldn’t. Or that it’s a big deal. I’m just saying … they have. And I’m happy about it. I actually love when African-Americans use my toilet! It’s great. Not that I have a toilet fetish. I just … did I mention I love Denzel Washington? He was awesome in Glory. Not that he needs to play a freed slave soldier to be awesome. Not at all. That’s not what I mean. And I bet he owns his own Mini Cooper. Just like you do. Hell, you have a nicer car than I have. Not that anything’s wrong with that—you should have a nicer car than I have. I mean, who the heck am I?”

By the time I started to speak, however, 45 minutes had passed, and the water heater was fixed.

He was out the door—in his Mini Cooper.

2 replies on “The black man and his car”

“Some of my best friends are black…I had binders full of black people…etc…etc”. Thank you for your self depricating account that helped to lighten what must have been a terribly awkward moment. It’s not easy to write about issues of race without coming off like a pious blowhard. This was very good.

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