So Gatos suggested that we “kick it” again and offered to make arrangements.
Normally, keeping public company with a white person is golden. However, when that person evokes ethnicity, it counts for much less, can be seen as cheating and has the potential to destroy the hard work one has done to this point.
But, he offered to buy the drinks again; and accepting challenging social invitations from a paying companion is a decidedly Hamptonish thing to do, so I accepted.
But not without precautions. There are a few things to keep in mind when arranging such an arrangement.
Location, Location, Location
It’s an old adage, but it’s true. You definitely want to take care to choose the right spot for your outing. Being seen at the wrong movie, restaurant, piece of theater or side of town can ruin all of your efforts. So, after a Vespa tour around a winery, I felt comfortable with Gatos settling in for the hummus and grape leaf tasting that was to be part two of our afternoon.
Evoke Tough Love
You know how it is when you travel to Bath or Oxford, then spend the next two weeks trying to shake the vestiges of the Queen’s English from your vocabulary. You can’t help but through out a “mate,” “gov’nor,” or “right, yeah?” in your once normal conversation.
So is the case when you spend time with a light ethnic. After a couple of hours, I was horrified to notice that I let the word “dope” escape my lips. And I wasn’t talking about weed. I was describing something that I liked and used the offensive adjective to describe it.
And just like my friends put me back in my place when I slip into a bit of British vernacular, Gatos was there to correct me. I was embarrassed, sure. But the fact that he called me on it so that I refrained from such sloppy speech from then on was worth the flush I felt on my cheeks.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but the flash of a tag from Talbots or Lily Pulitzer lets passersby know which side of the yacht your flag is raised. The right label on your lapel will help repel any lax labeling.
The Use of Key Words and Phrases
When strangers pass by you and your escort, thwart their assumptions by making sure that in a loud, clear voice, you utter phrases like: “Of course you find Fitzgerald insufferable, that’s the whole point” Or: “Oh, come on. You can’t blame Reaganomics. People have a certain amount of personal responsibility.” Or: “I thought AMT was unfair, until I learned two words: Intangible. Drilling.”
Never you mind if these seem like non-sequitors to your companion. He or she doesn’t even have to answer. And all you have to do is bask in the glory of the nods and smiles you will get from those around you as you shatter expectations.
Seriously, Have Them Buy You a Drink
When your mind is consumed with correcting and perfecting an image, it can be hard to actually enjoy what you’re doing. So appreciate a little free booze. Really helps take the edge off.