There is a nuance to insults that needs to be factored in when you are leaving a certain social-economic status for a new one. Or when you have two different cultures built around the same goal. A place to call home. And after the downpour of emotions that has been erupting across my county, I had some time to think of the concept of needing money. I never had the luxury of being basic when I have always lived in poverty. Being basic in my society is being able to live modestly. Not so to individuals of a different social and economic dynamic. So let’s talk about modestly.
I went on a date with an individual that I met in a speed dating event four years ago who, based on the offerings of that networking space, had a PhD. And was paired with me among the other 10 individuals that were present in that coffee shop in DC. I was mildly elated to be matched with anyone to have the pleasure of a date and simply enjoy the space of getting to know someone for the evening. In my elation, and because I am a bit generous, I brought them a slice of banana bread I had made that afternoon as a thank you for spending time with me that evening. It has to either be an exclusive move to me to thank people for offering me some of their time and energy but when you consider time as a commodity that can not be replaced, it has value.
So I went on this date. We had a pleasant evening at a local venue that catered to non profits in my community and she was nice enough to schedule a second day with me. Looking back, the cake may have been too much of a good thing to offer someone I am simply perusing but she was new to my community and I like to play tour guide when I meet new people and take them around my city. While this was a date in the romantic sense, I am not familiar with the protocols that most people in any sexual orientation would consider “normal”.
Our second exchange took us to one of the monuments in my city and tested our stamina as it was a 17 story building with one set of stairs. It was an equally pleasant afternoon while no spark flew, I was settling into a routine with this individual to merely spend time learning culture specific dating rituals. For some groups of people, dating is normal. And in some ways it should be. However, it was never normal to me since I was not sure what I as an individual was lacking to be considered a viable candidate for anything deemed, casual. And this was compounded on my last afternoon with this individual as they selected the most popular dish the restaurant had to offer, highlighting that if it was popular, it must be the best.
And I innately did not agree with that. I told them that they were basic. Let that digest. Their non-response to that statement signaled the end of our dating relationship. In some ways, I was more than okay with that as it was not fair me to waste her time when neither of us is into the other on the romantic front. Adding to the fact neither of us called the other outside of setting up dates, we did not bother to keep in touch.
But basic being insulting. I have heard be used as something demanding but how is an insult to be able to afford to buy everything you need on a whim and find no value in it? So in the moment, I did not find that insulting and would have continued dating for the sake of dating if only to have the experience dating can bring me. Alas, she did not imbue the term as a badge of pride since she did not consider her financial status a place of value to other people.
And I guess being raised below the poverty line in my city where the average job offered to people in my community was limited to manual labor, this ability to buy a coffee at a Starbucks and not worry about if one could afford to pay their bills for the following month, she did not enjoy that comfort. For me, being too educated to work in a manual gig because I had a college degree or be overlooked because of my skin and obtaining a masters, this individual, being White mind you, did not think of the power she had being able to pay for a meal and not have to worry about rent as well. So it was a missed opportunity to learn something about upper-middle-class people that I did not have access to in my usual spaces. Moreso, I could not afford to interact with these people without the same amount of cash. So gladly accepted this dating companion’s lack of a call back since there was no true interest in the relationship.
But it made me think about how I viewed insulting people in the first place. Particularly when I have been labeled an oreo early in my life from people that never really spent time with White people so I took a look at what made me stand out as wanting something my skin would deny me and spent some time around and among White people to see if my mere interest in being smart or verbose was the additional keys to being White my own community was demeaning. It was not and was to a degree since my country tends to downplay the importance of being educated in a way that I find rather fascinating. This is also enhanced by the odd shift of knowledge not being valued when slaves would be murdered for learning how to read.
For me, acknowledging that my culture’s songs and stories are lost on the oceans and will never be sung nor sought after by their own people because they are told the medium, education and the language used, English, are exclusive to their oppressors, it doesn’t seem too obvious anymore when I look at it from that perspective. Why would you want something you are told you can’t have in the first place? Why would you strive to be educated when you could die obtaining it? So I strove to be basic. But it does not mean the same depending on your situation.