Time: Saturday afternoon.
Stephen has just finished his shift. He was going into his locker, grab his back pack; go into the rest room, change out of his uniform, change into the stuff he brought from home, walk back by and go out into the world; to enjoy the rare sun that’s decided to grace us that afternoon. Stephen is the nice kid who always remembered to say your name with his “hi” and “bye”s. He has facial hair, an ear ring he wears after work and likes to take his shirt off on his way to the locker-room; exposing a hairy chest, and the promise of a six-pack ab. I was standing outside the uniform room, asking the uniform attendant if she was coming to whatwashername’s birthday on Thursday; so I could tag along. When Stephen passed by, ripping his shirt off and groaning from over-exhaustion, I kissed the tip of my fingers. Then I shook my head and added “em.em.em.em” to show just how appetizing I found him.
My actions, which were for my colleague’s benefit [who was Samoan, but looks more black than I, and much older, and has exhibited dating-related-bitterness on more than one occasion] weren’t lost on the woman. She knows me for a free spirit; a free spirit who is honest and says the darndest things when least expected, making her laugh, slap my back and call me ‘crazy’. So she neither rolled her eyes, as would a stern new-comer, nor make a dash for the “office manual” which clearly states attractions between colleagues should be kept for afterwork hours. She chuckled. Then she said, “You like white boys!”, pleasant like.
There was an accusative undertone to her words, which made me start, then protest “Not all of them!!”, and do a quick mental search for all the other cute guys from other nationalities I liked. I mentioned our Eritrean colleague, who was tall and handsome, and [between you and me] may be the male/african version of a blonde bimbo [crosses himself elaborately before eating, and pretends not to have noticed the attention he was drawing]. There was the red-pepper hot Tamale Hispanic guy who, I’ve observed more than once, looks like he’s dropped out of a Madonna music video. A Spanish lullaby from “La Isla Bonita”. And, ofcourse, Eyn; who was not only 10 years younger but Korean; whom I fall head-over hills for about 3 days after another colleague teased me of being “infatuated” with him when I observed what a fire-cracker he was [swearing in a way that made his 5’4″ inches feel like a 6 foot 7].
But ofcourse the damage has been done. You don’t light a match underneath abesheet and expect her not to get burned. I was embarrassed. I was mortified. I wanted to kick myself in the bum. Did I, like she said, liked “white boys”?! Or did I prefer them to what’s out there?!
True: The four out of five men I have had a crush on for the last few months have all been white guys. There are atleast 80 Caucasian men for every 1 African American male I would rather date. And it’s easier for me to find some redeeming [facial] feature in a white guy than I can with either an African American or Hispanic man.
Were I a white-chaser? Or just a woman from an under-privileged background to whom the word “white” may represent “opportunity”. Weren’t I always tripping over Ethiopian men who remind me of my super-ex-boyfriend Samson “bariyaw”? Doesn’t my mind go almost-blank, in a way no Ryan-Gosling-look-alike could wipe it off reason, when I come across them rare brainy abesha men?! Don’t I still nurture a hope that “tedii” and I would someday end up together? [Yes I do, tedii. Bite me]
True. Being a Samson “bariyaw”-look-alike and brainy is only the beginning when it comes to my countrymen. They also gotta be not stunted. Too tall nor too skinny. Or from the country. They gotta also speak reasonably good English. Which should make sense: If they don’t speak English well, they can’t read the books. If they can’t read the books, all they can talk about is soccer and politics; the two subjects the sister abhors.
I didn’t like it! Didn’t like it one bit! It felt mercinary-ic. Self-hating. It felt the kind of mentality an abesha/abehseet, what with our 3,000 years of history and being the only country that’s never been colonized, should not have.
So I decided to try and dig deeper as to where this “preference” came from. Could it be due to the fact that when white men and women were introduced to us, Ethiopians, they weren’t introduced through colonization, the bible or even humanitarian deed. But through the “wondrous medium” of TV?! And because these were the chosen specimen of the race: actors and actresses whose beauty and ‘angelic’ quality surpassed understand?! Or is there another, underlying, reason? [The need to produce mixed-race kids, for example, so my child won’t go through what I did … by the dis-virtue of being the only kinky-haired/short-nosed/shaped-like-a-black-girl girl west of Qebena wonz]
All I can do, for now, is admit I have a problem and hope admittance is the first step to finding the cure. So here goes *gets up awkwardly*: My name is abesheet. I prefer meat to shiro. I hate all kinds of sports. And I like white boys.