April 27th, 2003


Black and White

A few of you may be amused by this story I bumped into on the Peter David newsgroup
Writer Christopher Priest wrote:
Not sure if I ever told you my favorite PAD story: I was at his house plotting THE DEATH OF JEAN DeWOLFF, and I looked over at his daughter's toys. There was a black Cabbage Patch doll. I just kind of blinked, and then asked him about it. Many black moms I know would NEVER allow their kid to own a white doll. PAD said they were in the toy store, they asked the kid which doll she wanted, and this is what she picked out. He looked at his wife, and they both kind of blinked and said, "Well, we call ourselves liberals. Guess it's time we proved it." They bought the doll.

to which PAD replied:
It wasn't a Cabbage Patch Kid. It was one of the dolls from the Rainbow Brite series. My then-wife and I had gone to Toys R Us with then-little Shana, and we had promised her we would get her a doll of her favorite RB character, "Indigo." Didn't know which one she was. Shana pointed her out on the shelves. Shana, of course, was color blind to such trivialities as the doll's skin tone. She wanted her because she liked the color of the outfit and the character's personality on the TV shows.

And Shana's mother and I, as Priest says, kind of blinked and then shrugged and I said what he says I said.

What he may have forgotten, or perhaps what I never mentioned to him, was when we went to pay for it. The cashier looked at the doll, looked at us, and then said in a low voice, "You know...they have white dolls, too." And I said, "Yeah, we know. This is who our daughter wants." The cashier looked very bewildered. Apparently white parents buying a black doll for their child was considered bizarre. To me, far more bizarre would have to say to Shana, "Sorry, honey, we can't buy her for you; she's black." What the hell kind of message does THAT send?

The problem with people

In her own journal, Sana said:

Mission was fun, although i did have a big wibble in my head halfway through when i realised that more and more it seems that my friends can only be happy if they've just been laid or are about to be, are fucked on drugs or are fucked on alcohol.

This is something that's worried me for a long time. It's been a point of derision for drinkers that non-alcoholics say things like "I can have fun when I'm sober." - as if it's not possible to enjoy yourself unless you're drunk. Everyone knows that alcoholism is bad, but how many people think about the fact that binge drinking is a nasty sign - that people feel they can't dance or sing or relax around each other unless they've first knocked out a fair number of their brain cells and reduced themselves to gibbering wrecks.

Now, I can understand that a small chunk of the population might be the kind of person who has neuroses about the public and can't cope with being around people. But apparently the vast majority of the population can't cope with the concept of having fun without alcohol. It's not just bad enough that most people feel that their Friday nights should be enhanced by alcohol - it really seems that the huge proportion of people aren't having fun unless they've drunk enough to stop thinking even slightly. Should it not be a warning to people that they can't have fun unless they're drunk? Should it not be a warning to society that it's members don't feel good unless they're incapable of walking?

We're stuck in a civilisation with a largely-christian hangover, where any example of enjoying yourself is taken as freakish. Try singing to yourself, or dancing while _sober_ and see how many people point and laugh or simply become embarassed that, God forbid, someone enjoy that kind of behaviour without being drunk. How many people do you know who will go to any kind of social event that doesn't largely revolve around alcohol?