A couple of years ago, I was in an Olympia grocery co-op, when I heard a commotion behind me.
“Oh my goodness, you’re so BEAUTIFUL!”
I looked around, and I saw a middle-aged white woman motioning to another middle-aged white woman to come to where she was standing.
“Isn’t she so BEAUTIFUL!”, the first woman stated/asked.
“Oh yes, she sure is, look at you, you’re such a beautiful little girl!”
Curious, I walked over to see what they were gushing about.
Standing between the two ladies was a black girl. She was young, 8, maybe 9 years-old, and while she looked just fine, she wasn’t particularly remarkable. She had black hair, brown eyes, five fingers on each hand, a nose, and looked to be of average height and weight for her age.
Confused, I summoned my neighbor, a lifelong Olympia resident, and asked “Why is everyone making a big fuss over that little girl?”
He looked over to see who I was talking about, then non-chalantly replied “Oh, they aren’t used to seeing black people.”
Later that day, while driving down Harrison Ave., I spotted a line of people near the side of the road. White people. The were 20, maybe 30 of them. Once again, curiosity got the better of me, and when I looked over to see what they were doing, I noticed that they were lining up in front of a silver trailer kind of thing. When I passed the silver thing, and looked back, I realized what it was. It was a food stand. A taco stand to be precise.
Ah, American white people. Progenitors of the phrase “identity crises”. Far and away the most confused group of people to have ever walked the earth. A race of people fascinated, utterly fascinated, by the things they see in movies, and on TV, but rarely see on their own cul-de-sacs. Things like food stands. And black people.
The great white identity crisis continues unabated. It’s nose rings, tribal tattoos, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and studio apartments with assigned parking. It’s why it can cost more to buy used clothes in thrift stores, than it does to buy them new in Nordstrom. It is exactly what they mean when they say that “hipsterism fetishizes the authentic”.
When I happened upon the Mobile Food Truck Rodeo in South Lake Union yesterday, I couldn’t help but laugh just a little. I was having flashbacks. The girl in the grocery store, the taco stand on Harrison. This time, however, I wasn’t surprised. It made sense that they would actually dedicate an event to street food. After all, there are no food trucks in Bothell, and because of this, they are exotic.
I shrugged, and walked toward the crowd, passing occupied parking meter after occupied parking meter.
“Let’s be white people today”, I said to my companions aloud, “let’s eat street food that people drive to eat!”
I stopped at one truck, contemplated making a purchase, then looked at the menu.
Oh good, they had hamburgers.
It was $12.
For a hamburger.
FOR A HAMBURGER.
FROM A TRUCK!
I hate you.