PoC Barometer (or what I really thing about the conversation we had at the gallery opening), Art Speak by Metroarts, Brisbane
We met at an opening last night; you were dressed in plain black (because you are so neutral and authoritative), and I was wearing a Thundercats shirt (admittedly a strange choice). Your blue eyes tended to look upwards—making me think you’re a dreamer—while your feet were pointing towards me, granting me your full attention. Some of your initial comments about safe white spaces implied that you confused me with Andy Butler but I don’t hold it against you: if you squint hard enough, I’m like Butler after a Comic-Con and a plastic surgery holiday in Tijuana. I had to politely let you know that I was that other, more obscure (male PoC) arts writer in Melbourne who dealt with vampires and monsters (although I’m not sure if you understood we are two different people). The wine in your glass looked cheap but it seems like you needed a drink to cope with the crowds. Water is a bit basic, I guess.
A sudden thought crossed my mind, “I bet their Instagram has a lot of pictures of plants”. I still don’t know your handle but something along the lines of @thetastemaker feels right. I diverged slightly and imagined myself as your psychologist, telling you to try bungee jumping: “life is about new experiences”. The truth is I was speculating on the kind of sounds you make during sex, perhaps you’re deceivingly perverted or a bit scary. I don’t know anything about astrology but my guess is that you’re an Aquarius because I say so; your Mars is surely on Saturn return and something stereotypically tragic is going on in your life—I don’t know, lower back pain? The reality is, I was bored and my mind went somewhere else. If this was a white cube version of Tinder, I’d have swiped left like, a hundred art movements ago. We wouldn’t have made it to Impressionism, let alone Cubism. You’re ‘nice’ but I rather have dinner with your cousin who manages insurance claims and denies global warming because at least, they make me laugh.
The thing is, you came across as boring and intensely forgettable. This might hit you hard, but I’m more likely to remember the lyrics to a Kings of Leon hit than your name.
Your social game could improve with some intercultural pointers though, which is why I drew you this cut-out of a barometer. I recommend you print it on cardboard and carry it with you for a few months, if you strike a conversation with a PoC just hand it to them and see where they place the arrow. Soon you will learn how to read people and more importantly, how they react to you. Plus, it’ll make you look a bit interesting (believe me, you desperately want this). Return the favor by passing it on to your friends, because I would rather watch a VHS of Harry & the Hendersons than spend another minute staring at everyone’s shoes and wondering how they would look with red laces.
Yes, I’m from Mexico. While this may sound interesting to you, it is a pretty banal fact for me. Once upon a time I smashed piñatas and ate intestines wrapped in carbs for breakfast—boring. Here’s all I can tell you about Mexico: burritos are like sandwiches, don’t serve them for dinner (unless you’re feeding an 8-year-old).
Yes, I’m from Mexico and I’m in Australia, which is apparently the strangest thing in the room right now. This encounter is so repetitive I feel like I’m trapped in a replay of a customs training tape performed by Kurt Cobain and Morticia Addams. Your questions about why, how, when and where I crossed the Pacific Ocean for the first time are bumming me out. Spice it up a little and ask me something interesting, like my stand on the veracity of the Spear of Destiny held by the Vatican.
Truth be told, I didn’t know anyone else at the opening so I stuck around. My safe space (or revenge fantasy) became the prospects of infiltrating Optus to slow down your internet to 0.31Mbps and keeping you on hold for a week with vague promises about the NBN. However, we rescued the moment when you literally just picked a flat thing in the room and asked for my opinion (yes, maybe I like art). My highlight is when you suddenly went on a rant about tumors that grow eyes and teeth—oh sorry, that was me talking at you about teratomas.
When you told me that sweet potatoes change their glycemic index depending on how they’re cooked, I was listening. My mind was fully present when we Googled Amazon book covers of werewolf erotica (granted, it was my idea). I giggled when you grabbed my palm and tried to read it because I’m superstitious. What began as a boring encounter, became somewhat entertaining. Hell, I think I even like you.
I don’t understand why you approached me with dull questions about Mexico when you could have had me at ‘hello’. The moment you mentioned that 16th century Bolognese sword fighting was your hobby, I felt a sense of connection. When you shared that you enjoy auditioning for amateur movie roles where you play a dead body, in order to fulfill a sinister psychological need, I desperately wanted to know your phone number. I suspect you also have a secret postgraduate degree on Demonology but perhaps I’m merely projecting my fantasies onto you. After all, I’ve been doing this all along because the reality is, I got bored answering questions about migration and made an excuse to leave (“sorry, I must urgently cross that door over there, or whatever”).