Sunday, June 08, 2008

Further Tales of a Crazy Neighbour

You may remember me talking about my neighbour, Crazy Maureen. Yesterday I had a LOT of reading to do. Very boring reading. Very long, largely poorly written reading for a contest I am helping to judge. It was just way too hot in my apartment to face that for longer than the first three of the twelve documents I need to read. So I headed to Starbucks for a few, and then, when it hit late afternoon and the sun wasn't so high, to the park. When I first got to the park I thought there must be an actual wedding taking place there. There were people dressed in fancy garb at every turn. But then, as I looked more closely, it turned out that there were no fewer than eight(!) wedding parties getting their pictures taken in the park at the same time. There were brides in giant meringue dresses at every turn! As it turned out, all of the couples getting photographed were also black. I mention this because it has direct bearing on what took place next.

As I was wandering back toward my car at around 6:30, I came across Maureen and her "friend" J. in the parking lot. Last I heard about J. he was in intensive care, so it was great to see him back on his feet and out and about. J. is even more ancient than Maureen, and I hadn't previously met him. Maureen was so excited to introduce us at last, gave me a big hug, and offered me the use of an extra lawn chair if I wanted to join them in watching the weddings. I got some warm fuzzies. It was a good Maureen encounter.

And then.
Oh and then.

With people from one of the wedding parties not 6 feet away, she says "we just love to watch these coloured weddings. They are so exotic!"


What do you say to that?!?

Needless to say, I declined the use of the extra lawn chair and beat a hasty retreat, after muttering things about the dresses being lovely.

I recognize that this is a generational thing, and that elderly people, raised in a different time, don't necessarily have any concept of racist remarks being inappropriate/offensive/unacceptable, and that arguing with them does nothing to change their long held beliefs. I know that from previous experience. But it is totally off-putting.

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