I have another blog called The Oreo Experience (check it out here...but not now; wait ‘till you’re done reading this). It’s about how I’m a super white black person (Black on the outside, white on the inside--like an Oreo). I make a lot of jokes there about how yes, I’m black, but I also really, genuinely love Renaissance Faires and have never heard Lemonade. I’m not even sure if “Lemonade” refers to one song or an album or a short film.
People often think that I’m joking about this. To be fair, I am being funny about it, but I’m not “joking” per se. I don’t know very much about pop music and I’m a big ol’ Anglophile.
You might be wondering how a black girl growing up in South Texas fell in love with all things English. You also might not be wondering this at all. If it’s the former, congratulations, I’m about to tell you how this came to be. If it’s the latter, no matter! It’s still a lovely story.
When people find out that I’m an only child, they usually respond with some version of “Ohhhh, you must have been so spoiled!!” I was not spoiled.
It’s true that as an only child, you get all of your parents’ love and attention. You also have to bear the brunt of all of their issues by yourself. There’s no sibling to dull the shock of adult problems. And there’s no peer co-conspirator to let you know that you’re not crazy and that you are interpreting your parents’ weird behaviour correctly.
Mom was the chatty one. She’s outgoing and energetic and will talk to anyone. She’s extroverted and loves to be the center of attention. I was a shy child--I couldn’t even look adults in the eye until I was nearly a teenager. And so I preferred the attention of my quiet father. He was a big reader, he studied meditative Eastern religions and he didn’t like to make a fuss.
My only complaint: He was, and is, too quiet. Even for introverted me. My dad is in part, not untypical of his generation. Men then weren’t supposed to be emotional or connective. They were supposed to provide for their families, which my father did very well. My dad also grew up as a black person in the segregated South. He’s seen a lot of traumatic stuff. And he saw it well before therapy was something that was OK for regular people to do. So yeah, he’s quiet.
Even today, when I call my dad, our conversations are mostly silence. He doesn’t ask me about my life, or my job, or my partner, or my work. Once he works out that I’m alive, he doesn't have too much to say.
It can be awkward.
I spent my allowances on various Shakespeare translations. I recorded Much Ado About Nothing onto tape and listened to it every night. I started practicing my RP. I began attending Renaissance Fairs. I began performing in Renaissance Fairs. I swooned over every costume drama I could get my hands on. I started buying and building my own costumes. Five years ago, I went to England for the first time and have gone back at least twice a year every year since. And this year, I made this webseries, committing my Anglophilia to film.
Today, I don’t know that my dad could tell you what my job is or what my partner does for a living. I know he knows I live in California, but I don’t know that he could pick out which bit or if he knows whether I have pets or not. But I can ask him about anything that Basil Fawlty did and my dad can tell you the season, the episode, nearly every line of dialogue that comes before and after the scene in question; and he kind of won’t shut up about it.
Honestly, that can be awkward, too.
I don’t know if I would have found British comedy and unearthed my Anglophilia if it weren’t for my father--South Texas wasn’t known for its transatlantic tastes. And if he had been a naturally chattier man, maybe he wouldn’t have needed dry, repressed jokes to relate to. So yeah, it might have been fun to have a livelier life back then, but I’d be missing out on so much that I love today.