It’s so hard being black and nerdy.

I was working a club in Milwaukee a couple of months ago, and I meet the owner for the first time. Before I say anything he puts out his hand for a fist touch, and is like “Hey wad up son?”

I responded with “Hi, I’m Gavin”, then closed my right hand around his fist and shook it. Dude looked like I ripped his heart out of his chest and showed it to him. I’m sure if I used the N word at any point in our conversation he would have swooned.
And “Hi, I’m Gavin” was the best I could muster. That dude was my boss for the weekend but I couldn’t indulge his fantasy for one second because my nerdy analytical brain wants to make it pretty clear. I’m not that kind of a black guy.

And what kind of black guy is that? Cool. I’m not a cool black guy. I’m a Daredevil reading, DC animated movie watching, Settlers of Catan playing black guy. If you find that cool then yes, I guess you can say I’m a cool black guy. But usually the white guys that are looking for a cool black friend are the kind of people that don’t know what Catan is. Typically with those guys they can figure out what kind of black guy I am within the first sentence. Sometimes it feels like after they ask “Wad up, son?”, I’ve just replied with “I like Batman”.

I can’t be the Murtaugh to your Riggs

I feel bad cause I can’t fulfill some these guys’ Lethal Weapon fantasies. Like at some point in our friend ship they picture themselves screaming to the heavens while holding my dying body in their arms, right before they go out and avenge my death.  I wish I could be the Murtaugh to your Riggs, but I can’t. It’s not you, it’s me.

There’s nothing wrong with having that Lethal Weapon visual running through your head. Sometimes in the back of my mind, I like to imagine myself as Jason Bourne protecting everyone from an imaginary heist gone wrong. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a black friend to make you look cooler. History is filled with white dudes hanging with Black dudes to make them look cool. Look at Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, or Lincoln and slavery. You think if Lincoln didn’t tie himself to the salves, Steven Spielberg would make a movie about his ass? There’s a reason why Daniel Day Lewis isn’t trying to figure out the mannerisms of Millard Fillmore.

I can’t be the Jay Z to your J.T.

I wish there was a way to let these guys know to not expect me to be cool when they meet me so we could avoid all the awkwardness. Like if I had a hat or something that says “I’m not cool”. Like a ship captain’s hat from the S.S. Looser. It would just make things so much easier ’cause I don’t have the energy to fake it any more.  Do you know how much effort it takes to be cool? It’s so hard keeping up that image and my life is all about reducing the stress right now. If I could compare my state of mind to an article of clothing, I would have to say track pants. Blue, cat hair covered, worn out elastic track pants. So if you’re looking for a friend with the emotional state of a pair of comfortable lesbian track pants, I’m your man. If you want the Fonze, you need to keep it moving.

You can follow me on twitter @GavinbStephens and check out my standup dates, and videos here

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

Past Columns:

Things I Learned While Buying Plastic Men: Superman is kinda like Me
Things I Learned While Buying Plastic Men: Stop Dumbing it Down, Already!
Things I Learned While Buying Plastic Men: No Means No!