Tuesday, January 18, 2005

What's Your Style?

I have an aunt who always wanted to be white. I think she goes home every night and scrubs herself with bleach and brillo pads.

My paternal grandfather is fullblooded Indian, but my grandmother is a Hispanic lady who's pretty darned milky, and this particular aunt is fairskinned as well. While my grandfather worked two jobs so he could send all of his kids to private schools and give them decent educations (he dropped out after the eighth grade to provide for his parents after my great-grandfather had a stroke), my aunt worked summers to save up and buy a car so she could drive herself to a public school on the paler side of town. She avoids the ethnicity question like it has cooties, but if she has to she says the family is Spanish. Spanish surname, you see. Not Latino, or Hispanic, or Mexican, or anything of that sort, but Spanish. Indian is strictly verboten, in that neck of the woods Indians are the heavily discriminated against minority.

See how convoluted these things get?

Anyway, a long time ago she was dating this Army officer who was stationed nearby - she'd later marry him- and things got serious enough that my grandparents wanted to meet him, so she brought him by on a Family Night. He was a little taken aback by the chromatic shock, but recovered well. At one point he mentioned that he enjoyed fishing, but hadn't been since he'd been transferred to his current post (big desert, you see), so my grandfather offered to take him and a few of his buddies out for a little day trip the following weekend.

And off we went. The particular place we'd decided upon was quite a haul from any roads, and we were going to have to hike up a pretty steep trail and across a plateau to get there. These guys brought this big ice chest full of beer, which my grandfather strongly advised against trying to hump up this trail, but being very manly men as well as dedicated drinkers, they decided they could do it. About halfway up the trail they pretty much died, so we took a long break to let them recover. My grandfather wasn't particularly tired so he didn't sit, just planted one foot on top of their cooler and leaned his elbows across his knee while he looked out over the valley from which we'd just climbed.

One of these guys said "Hey, standing there like that you look just like an Indian."
My grandfather looked surprised as hell, and replied "I am an Indian, dumbass."
The guy looked shocked and a little alarmed, and said "Are you hostile?"*

My grandfather thought about that a minute.

"Sure. Hostile, doggy style, any syle."

*Incidentally, one of the top ten most ignorant things I've ever heard in my life.