Ask an Uptight Seattleite

Black men on Phinney Ridge are always well-kempt. Always.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I recently attended a play at a Seattle theater, and the performance was mediocre at best. During the intermission, audience members who were sitting far enough away from the stage that the performers couldn’t plainly see them quietly gathered up their belongings and did not come back. But at the end of the play, those of us who remained rose for the inevitable standing ovation. How bad does a performance in Seattle have to be before the audience withholds a standing ovation?

Reluctantly Upright

Dear Upright,

You sound a little frustrated, and that’s OK. But here’s something you might consider: Performers make themselves incredibly vulnerable when they appear onstage, toiling at their craft for your entertainment. While you sit on your rear end, you big lazybones! But seriously, please remember that the very self-esteem of these performers is in your hands. And they are doing their best. Did you stop to think that they are doing their best? Those “mediocre” performers simply can’t do any better. How do you think that feels?

But hey, maybe you’re right. Maybe when a performance falls short of perfection, we should remain seated while we applaud. I mean, why not really let them have it? Do a little research on the performers before you go. Then you can shout out taunts tailored to their personal history and ethnic background. “Nice performance, Jewish Guy!” you can shout. “Much like when you prematurely ejaculated into your girlfriend last night!” Sure, that might not make him feel very good, but it would make you feel good. And for you that’s apparently the important thing.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I subscribe to an e-mail discussion group for Greenwood–Phinney Ridge, which is mostly occupied with mind-numbing discussions of traffic policy. The other day, though, a woman reported a criminal incident, and included a matter-of-fact description of the perp as an “unkempt black man.” This resulted in what seemed to me to be an insane overreaction from someone else, who described himself as an honest, hardworking (and very well-kempt) black man. He didn’t appreciate her stigmatizing all African Americans and perpetuating stereotypes, he said. The crime victim then wrote an abjectly cowering apology, thanking the angry man for setting her straight, and saying she looked forward to “smiling at him on the street.” Leaving aside the question of whether she even did anything wrong, if this woman doesn’t know the guy, how will she know who to smile at?

Befuddled on Many Levels

Dear Befuddled,

Smiling insistently into the face of every black person you see—you’re suggesting that’s a bad idea? Sure, let’s also roll back the Voting Rights Act while we’re at it.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I just moved here and have noticed that the police like to harass people for driving down the street at certain times. Jaywalking seems to be another major offense to the people in blue. However, the police seem to be oblivious or indifferent to the heroin and crack dealing that’s happening day and night on Pike Street between Third and Fourth avenues. Is this an implicit approval of recreational drug use by the police? Shouldn’t the police priorities be focused on cracking down on the blatant dealing and gang activity on public streets?

Confused Chicagoan

Dear Chicagoan,

Geez, I don’t know what’s going on this week with all the retrograde prejudice, but I’m starting to get into a bit of a mood. “Crack down” on the drug trade? Sure. If the jails are too full, we can just send all the victims of chemical dependency to Gitmo for some waterboarding. Or maybe a li’l extraordinary rendition. Send them to Syria. After all, a lot of them are suspiciously dark skinned. Or are you going to pretend you didn’t notice that? They’re probably a risk to national security, on top of ruining your ideal image of a perfectly sanitized city. A city where persons of color are locked up while white people are free to do doughnuts in the bus lane with their Hummers and walk in crazy zigzag patterns down the middle of the street during rush hour. Sheesh.

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