Pampers, M&Ms, and a Mixed-Race Couple

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

The following question appeared on the application to a preschool for my son: "What will you bring to our community?" Excuse me? Is it a child-care service or a freakin' cult? Maybe I'm overreacting, but I don't know whether to be more offended by the absurdly misplaced elitism or the touchy-feely disguise it's wearing.

Miffed Mom

Dear Mom,

Instead of getting bogged down in a lot of second-guessing of the preschool's motivations, why not focus on the many assets that I'm sure you can bring to the community if you try? Everyone has something special to offer. Can you bake bread? Can you sing? Sure you can. Everyone can sing! Or maybe you're that really good knot undoer everyone brings their extra-troublesome knots to. Hey! Do you have a special silly dance you do when no one else is around? I bet you do. Why not come out of that shell of yours and share your silly dance with the world? With all the craziness these days, well, we all sure could use a smile about now.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

This might be a small thing to complain about, but it's bugging the shit out of me. A co-worker has a bowl of M&Ms on her desk. While most people lift the bowl and gingerly tap a few M&Ms into their hand, there's this one guy who always sticks his greasy mitt way down deep in the bowl like it's his ass and he's got the biggest itch of his life. How can I tell him he's a gross, dirty slob without hurting his feelings?

Hygienic Snacker

Dear Snacker,

That is a problem, isn't it? Because, while it's true that physical hygiene is important, social hygiene is also important—we gotta get along. But once you imagine yourself as an aikido master, and see this person's propensity for scooping as a hostile thrust to be redirected, the answer is clear: an anonymous gift. Go buy a scooping implement, gift wrap it, and put it in the guilty man's mailbox with a note. Strike a friendly, ribbing tone in the note. Use some office humor. Everyone says they hate office humor, but isn't it something that brings us together? And things that bring us together are rare and beautiful, are they not, Snacker?

So, you could maybe write something like this: "Hey you! You like to do a little scooping, don't you? You little scooper you. Scoopy Doo! Scoopy doo-wop say-what yeah. Scooping's cool, isn't it? Some of us lift and gingerly tap, some of us scoop. Well, actually, only you scoop. The rest of us are lift-and-tappers. Like we said, there's nothing wrong with that. Except you're going to make us all sick. So try scooping with the enclosed scooping implement instead. Thanks a bunch!" Then draw a smiley face and sign it, "Everybody you know."

Hey Uptight,

Do you have any idea why ads that feature a mixed-race couple usually show a white male and an Asian female? This is especially evident in real-estate ads. Why isn't it an Asian male with a white female? Are they not welcome in those posh downtown condos or new suburban developments? What kind of lame Pacific Rim city is this?

Asian Out

Dear Asian,

First of all, congratulations on your rich Asian heritage. I'm a big fan of your nonjudgmental spiritual traditions and commitment to education. Asians are sort of a kinder, gentler minority, aren't they? Delicious food without all the anger. That's not how I see it, of course. It's well-established that I'm pretty much color-blind. But I think some people see it that way. Could that explain the lack of Asian men in real-estate ads, either accompanied by Caucasian women or not? You have to admit, it would sort of be a stereotype, wouldn't it? Like, "Oh, look at me, I'm an Asian guy, of course I can afford this fancy condo! Because I'm so good at math!" That obviously wouldn't do. A photo of a white guy/Asian woman couple, on the other hand, flashes a new-millennial, post-racial glamour. A tech-company white guy from Wisconsin and a second-generation Chinese-American woman smiling at the center of a snazzy downtown lifestyle, their arms around each other with warm sexual ease—is that not the very picture of tasteful aspiration? Again, I'm a bit beyond all that. I'm just talking about how other people might see it.

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