On Race, Altruism, and E-mailPosted on 2007.10.11 at 14:53
The campus was very quiet today. There was no particular reaction to Ani that I saw, just the now normal interaction between me and other students. The lecture did involve a pathology called "body dysmorphia," which entails an extreme disatisfaction with (and inability to accept) certain features of one's body. A possible response is hiding them. As we were leaving class, I caught the phrase "covered in nylon" wafting past. However, while possible, I didn't catch enough of the conversation to be sure that this was about me.
(For the record, this suit is lycra/spandex, not nylon, but I don't think this detail really matters. I've worked in a fabric department, and personal experience says that people very often can't differentiate similar fabrics.)
After this, on a whim, Ani headed off to Starbucks...and arranged a tricky little experiment in the car.
The baristas, as per an average reaction when I corner clerks, reacted with nervous laughter. One noted that Halloween comes early. I quickly stepped in with a chipper drink order...which, in subtext, means "I come in peace: take me to your coffee!"
The total owed was $3.06. I set two bills on the counter...and, ever the troublesome customer, some change.
"I have a tremendous amount of difficulty counting change in the suit. I can't see it well, and have trouble separating coins with the gloves. Can you help me?"
And she did. The catch? I had meticulously totalled the amount of change I had in the car. I totalled it again after I left. Underhanded, I readily admit, but interesting, and the results were heartening: the amount was exactly right. She had even asked whether I had a nickel to make better change. Now, I'll grant that if you're going to take advantage of someone, the best target isn't necessarily an obvious social oddball with potential psychoses.
Still, the possibility was there and exploited. Kudos, Starbucks lady. :)
The other girl was also quite on the ball. She gave me a promotional coupon that could have been easily forgotten amidst the oddity.
Once outside, I was stopped by a very nice couple who asked about the suit, mentioning that they wanted to see whether what they had theorized (they'd seen me walking in) was accurate. I didn't want to explain until they agreed to give me their own thoughts. After all, Ani is all about reactions. The more unadulterated, the better!
Their thoughts (and, although I'm lumping them together, there did seem to be some digression between them,) as it turned out, centered again on the racial erasure issue. The fellow worded it well. To paraphrase: "I think it's about how everyone is equal, no matter what the race." After all, I'm not white, black, hispanic, Asian, pacific islander/other, or any other census classification. I'm a blue-American.
This seems to be by far the most common interpretation amongst the educated people who approach me. "Educated," for the record, is being measured by how articulate they are. I've tried to withhold imparting any high-nosed "proper interpretations" or artist-defined meetings from the project. However, this one, by the grace of viewers, seems to be entwining itself very solidly into Ani's public-defined "identity." In a way, other people are shaping her just as much as I am.
We had a nice little chat, though brief. The brevity was my fault, really, I should have lingered longer. Anyway, I had set my promotional coupon on the ground to take give them an Ani's Adventures business card, and couldn't pick it back up with the gloves. They were kind enough to help me and retrieve it. This brings up an interesting point.
Ani is not only an oddball. She's an oddball with a slight disability. She has trouble seeing. She has trouble picking things up and separating things. My classmates in Abnormal Psychology have consistently helped her overcome these. The baristas today helped her. The couple on the patio helped her. Ani is a very strange creature, but she's still been on the receiving end of quite a bit of of altruism.
It's quite the warm and fuzzy feeling, really, and we'll end today's report on that note.
In other news, I am very grateful to the people who have e-mailed me, but I've been having a lot of trouble with several web pages recently. I don't know why...but, unfortunately, gmail is one of them. I will respond to these via workarounds just as soon as I can, and apology for the delay. I have also received error messages when I try to respond to text messages on my cell phone, which likely has something to do with my plan. (I don't normally text.)
If you'd like to contact me, feel free to add me to MSN messenger with the address Guardian_Topaz@hotmail.com . I can almost guarantee that there will be no problems with this method. I work online, thus, if it says "busy," it's going to be more or less true. Ani, however, is part of my job as a practicing artist, and I'm almost always willing to chat about her or answer any questions that you have in real time. :)