I know I'm always complaining about other people and churches so in the interest of humility, let's talk about a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing I did last week. I went to a linger-longer after my old ward's church service to eat soup. That wasn't the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing because first of all, I was invited, and second, I paid tithing that I didn't know was being used to purchase Apple stock, so I feel entitled to eat food purchased with church funds. I went and this woman I've met a couple times asked me questions about graduate school because I did graduate school and she wants to do graduate school. I get a weird vibe from her that I can't really explain. Usually when pretty women talk to me I get a vague sense of benevolent condescension, like on some level they feel like they're doing me a favor, and that could be dismissed as my imagination except that once in a while it isn't there and I'm shocked. I think that's the case here. Her friendliness catches me off guard even though lots of people are friendly.
I was happy to share my wisdom and happy about her ambition. I wanted to say "Aren't you glad the church doesn't discourage women from having hopes and dreams anymore?" but it might have killed the mood and anyway, I'm not convinced it's entirely true. A lot of women in the ward seem to have career goals and that's great but I don't know how it isn't causing them hella cognitive dissonance. Or maybe it is. So anyway, I asked what she wanted to do in graduate school. She said Asian Studies. I asked what parts of Asia she wanted to study. She said China. I asked why. She said "Mostly to please my ancestors." And this is when I did the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. I looked at her, and I thought she looked just as white as she had a moment ago before she said that, and I blurted out, "Are you adopted?"
Yes, I committed a microaggression - not my first or worst one, but that's small comfort. I hate the word "microaggression" because usually there is no aggression. Usually, as in my case, these incidents are purely the result of ignorance and/or stupidity. I had two thoughts as I was asking my question, neither of them aggressive. First, that if she had decided to claim her adopted ancestors as her own, good for her, I had no objection, I was just curious. Second, that I wouldn't have batted an eye at white parents adopting a Chinese child, but the other way around seemed weird somehow, but of course it would be allowed because why wouldn't it? An episode of Psych had a white character who was adopted by Thai parents and people thought he was racist for speaking with a Thai accent. In any case, though, if I had stopped to think for a few seconds I would have second-guessed prying into such personal matters.
She said no, she wasn't adopted, she was a quarter Chinese, her mom was half Chinese. And just like that, I could see it. She looked exactly the same and yet different somehow. I wanted to say "Aren't you glad the church doesn't oppose interracial marriage anymore?" but it might have killed the mood. It turns out she's really steeped in Chinese culture and not shy about bringing it up. I just hadn't interacted with her enough to notice. Anyway, she didn't seem offended at all but I have principles to uphold regardless. That evening I went to ward prayer, managing to skip the prayer and only do the game afterward, just so I could apologize to her for being an idiot. She was so not offended that she burst out laughing before I could finish. And then on Thursday I ran into her on campus and we ate dinner together and she caught me off guard with a fist bump so I think we're cool.
tl;dr: I'm not perfect, but I'm trying.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.