Negrophobia, Hoochie Mama – The Other White Meat and Razor Wire Pubic Hair: Books as Stranger Repellent
One of the things I have often found problematic about the way in which extroversion and introversion are often framed is how reductive it is – either you’re a used car salesperson in a polyester plaid Botany 500 blazer or mousy wallflower who finds even the approximation of conversation agonizing. Even when folks interpret their Myers-Briggs results – for the record I am an E/I NFP – there still seems a disconnect between the questions they answered and the way they understand the sum of those answers.
I tend to frame extro/intro as the means by which a person gets their juju – either from external factors or internal factors – rather than the sole driving force of their personality. Ever seen a lone person at a bar? Now, do you ever actually LOOK at them or do you just assume they must be a miserable lonely person? What about when someone goes to a restaurant alone? Think they’re “shy”? or ill-equipped to locate a suitable dinner companion?
I am an introvert. This is shocking news, both to myself and folks who know me, since I could hardly be described as “shy”. Yet, I really hate people. Not individuals, but collections of people working in concert to like get on my nerves. I also have little use for the Ark Syndrome the inability of grown folks to do things like go to the restroom, movies or anywhere else without someone else. Prefer to is fine, but HAVE to is like inconceivable to me. Like what do you do if turns out nobody wants to see Rocky X with you?
Anyway, as a person who does not find social activities especially engaging and who is forever trying to protect her precious SAUs (social attention units), I am constantly employing strategies to ensure this adorable and accessible looking face doesn’t start interactions this adorable and inaccessible mind isn’t interested in having. If this is not your experience, I’m happy for you, but I don’t really need to hear how “lucky” I must be because folks want to talk to me. I don’t feel lucky and when I don’t moderate my time I feel exhausted when it’s over and mad that I didn’t fake labor to get away from them.
One of them is constantly being on a cellphone when I’m out in public. Seriously, I will not leave my house without my phone and will always call someone and talk to them. People always try to talk to me in public places, asking for suggestions or making nice nice. Now, when I’m in the south, all this goes out the window cause it’s real bad manners (<3 to Ms Jacks) not to offer your opinion on the heat when asked by a southerner. Besides, they know how to shut the hell up when the conversation is over. And oddly enough they don't ask if they like don't want your opinion. However in the cold North East, folks can live next to you for 200 years and never talk to you. Yet, once they decide you're fit for small talk, they will NOT leave you the hell alone. Playa, any interaction is like a scene from Airplane where various folks are trying to kill themselves to escape Ted Stryker’s incessant blathering.
Since I’ve lived in NE for nearly 7 years I’ve finally become a “new person” rather than a stranger to folks about town and NOW they want to chat me up and interrupt my Archie Comic and Big Steak Omelette time!
The other strategy I employ is carrying around books. I read them in line and just about any place where there are a collection of strangers waiting for something to happen.
Here is Snarky’s Machine’s Trust me I’ve done the legwork approved list of books that guarantee your personal space bubble will not be breached.* Please note, inclusion on this list means I have read the books and 99% of the time thoroughly found them enjoyable reads. I’ll let YOU decide which one of these things is not like the other.
Airports and such
This would probably strike most as counterintuitive, but AIRPORT LIT is the best choice to avoid AIRPORT bubble breachers. I’m talking pulling out the big guns: Crichton, Grisham, Balducci, Grafton and Cook. People romanticize air travel to the point they believe anyone flying anywhere must be super interesting. Well you’ll show them with your shiny copy of A Time to Kill This Close Talking Mutherfucker or F is for FUCK OFF BUBBLE BREACHER** The key here is the copy MUST BE BRAND SPINE CRACKING new, preferably purchased from the gift shop. Extra points for using the receipt as a bookmark. Additional note: do not pick an obscure title. That means no Disclosure or The Chamber. People forget that Crichton and Grisham (respectively) wrote those. As an aside, both are highly enjoyable reads! Oh yeah, stay away from medically vectored Crichton books lest you find yourself stuck next to a Johnny come know it all like me who will whip out Dr. Mike’s medical school transcripts and tell you more than you ever wanted to know about his switch from medicine to writing and how like he was totally fascinating and 6’10.
- “F” is for Fugitive (The Kinsey Millhone Alphabet Mysteries) by Sue Grafton
- Airframe by Dr. Michael Crichton
Waiting Rooms – Medical
DO NOT under any circumstances read the provided materials in any waiting room. Besides the fact there is a paucity of anything worth reading if you’re not say a parent, gun enthusiast or a card carrying member of AARP, they provide no immunity from bubble breachers whose first comment will involve noting the vintage of the magazines followed by some shop worn two drink minimum punch line even Seinfeld wouldn’t touch. And hell, if you ARE a parent, gun enthusiast or a card carrying member of AARP you done already read those magazines and could write way better articles. What you’ll want are books with provocative titles that cast medical professionals or the profession in general in a rather unflattering light. Every Dentist might not have read Marathon Man but they all know what is meant by the phrase “Marathon Man Dentistry”. Don’t bother asking. It ain’t safe***. POCs and other marginalized folks, y’all wanna make sure your stable of “fucked up medical shit the man done did to us” lit is well stocked.
- Marathon Man by William Goldman
- Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy by Susan M. Reverby
- Coma by Dr. Robin Cook
Waiting Rooms – Other
Again, stay away from the periodicals or brochures, which leave you vulnerable for a good breaching. Here you have a diverse range of suitable titles to serve your purpose. I lean towards books overtly sexual in nature, though best selling “female” focused self help and astrology titles are useful as well. Car Dealerships are good places to bring out the feminist non fiction or if that’s not your thang, you gotta rage Fear of Flying. There is something about a book exploring a woman’s sexual awakening that will make people scoot away and redirect their attention to The Price is Right, though honestly I haven’t figured out why.
- The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
- Cathy Twentieth Anniversary Collection by Cathy Guisewite
- Oriental Girls Desire Romance by Catherine Liu
- Germs, Guns and Steel by Jared Diamond
- How to Spot a Bastard by His Star Sign: The Ultimate Horrorscope by Lang & Rajah
Coffeehouses, Bookstores and other “enlightened” spaces
Since people tend frequent such establishments often with the singular intent of meeting strangers, you’re gonna have to put aside your feelings of discomfort – regardless of gender – and gather up some of the cheesiest of YA fiction you can find. Nothing thwarts this strain of breacher like the idea that you just might not be very well read. And since they will most likely think themselves smarter than the average bear, you’ll get extra amounts of delight in knowing they’re wrong while enjoying all kinds of cheeky 70s YA fun. Avoid Fabio emblazoned covers. Hipsters might view it as “ironic” and pull up a chair.
- Love & Betrayal & Hold the Mayo (Victoria Martin Trilogy) by Francine Pascal
- Sooner or Later by Bruce and Carole Hart
- Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack by M.E. Kerr
At this point, you gotta just go with “offensive” titles. And for corn’s sake DO NOT ask for the paper. By the time you’ve decided to dine out, much of the staff will have picked over it and if they spot you reading something they’ve read they’ll want to discuss it with you. No newspapers, magazines or comic books.
- Negrophobia: an Urban Parable by Darius James
- Hoochie Mama: The Other White Meat by Erika Lopez
- Razor Wire Pubic Hair by Carlton Mellick
- Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum
- The Killing Rage: Ending Racism by bell hooks
- Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers by Ishmael Reed
* offer void where prohibited. some restrictions may apply.
** actual titles may vary. check local outlets for similar products available in your area.
*** disturbing clip from Marathon Man. no one under 17 admitted without parental consent.