Wednesday, March 28, 2012

pondering stereotypes and real live conversation

I've had two very interesting conversations in so many weeks.

Conversation number one ...

I have this sticker on my car:  

While waiting in the carpool line recently, a woman with a pronounced southern accent struck up a conversation that went something like this:

"Wuz Amendment One, again?"

"I'm glad you asked!" I halfway lied, worried that this wasn't going to go well. I rebuked myself for being so closed minded, and continued. "On May 8th we'll be asked to vote on an amendment that states the only legal union to be recognized in North Carolina will be a marriage between a man and a woman. This will strip straight unmarried couples, as well as gay couples, from basic rights and benefits as partners and parents."

"Oh ... (thinking) ... you sure people of faith is AGAINST that?"

"Well, I am (smiling). I think it's wrong to put civil rights up for a popular vote. As for my faith, it motivates me to want to support and encourage other families, not make life harder for them."

"Oh kay... I can see that, I can see that.  (thinking some more)  I was wonderin, cause I was going through it in my head, like ... was this the one about the right to bear arms, or what?"

"No - this would amend our state constitution, which has never before been amended in a discriminatory way. That's something the be proud of, especially here in the south!"

"Aw right, I see what you mean.  (pausing to think some more)  Well, they say you gotta learn something new ever day.  I learned something new today, didn't I?  (smiles) Thank you, ma'am."

"Thank YOU" I replied, smiling to myself.  
 I'd learned something new that day, too.

Conversation number two...

I keep this button on the outside of my purse (gave up wearing it because most days I'd forget to put it on).

While in Starbucks today, a well dressed professional looking gentleman walked up to me and asked, "So what's amendment one?"

I casually began to answer when his entire posture stiffened, as though a lightbulb had gone off in his mind, reminding him that he'd heard about this but hadn't put two and two together.  He cut me off,

"Oh - I'm voting yes!"

"Okay (I nodded)... well, did you realize that actually-"

"I said I'm voting yes! I don't think they should be together at all!"  He seemed angry.  I was genuinely taken aback.  (I decided not to mention that I thought people like him were supposed to be boycotting Starbucks)

It obviously was not a wise use of my time or energy to converse with him any further, so I smiled and warmly replied, "That's certainly your prerogative."

As we both waited for our lattes, he remained tense - almost visceral.  Meanwhile I relaxed even further, as I wondered how exhausting it must be for him to carry all that around inside him all the time.

"Soy caramel brulee latte - no whip!"

"Well, that's me.  Nice talking with you.  Enjoy the rest of your day!" I offered.

"Huh? Yeah... uh ... you too."

Could it be?  He seemed ... I mean, maybe I was fooling myself ... but I almost got the sense that he was feeling a little ... conflicted.

Hm .... who knows?

Two conversations.
Two stereotypes shot to hell.
Three people left with more to ponder....

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