Ok, it’s story time. My Saturday was a full day of wake up calls, even though I’m still not convinced I needed any. It has been the best of times and the absolute worst of times here… and Saturday was the worst of times.
Before dinner, while lounging in the city centre of Strasbourg, I was picked out of a group of 15 people to be given a flyer for a party later that night in celebration of the abolishment of slavery. It didn’t occur to me until the end of my disastrous night to wonder why after 160 years they’re still throwing actual parties and wondering if we should be throwing these same types of parties in the U.S. Shortly after, I had an almost argument with one of my cohorts who felt that The Spook Who Sat by the Door shows that solving problems creates more problems, which I told her was not the point. While trying to explain to her that the point was that to unify Black America was to create a weapon of mass destruction, she kept harping on the problems for the country it produced, which I told her was beside the point since the Institution was the enemy in the book. OF COURSE the country would experience some problems if the Black community decided to fight back. But whatever, right? I stopped talking to her before it turned into a real argument because I felt it was pointless to argue with someone whose argument was based on hearsay. This was only the beginning of the night…
Dinner was so not what’s up. We go to this nice restaurant, and our meals were already chosen–and the choice was not cool based on what EVERYone around us was eating. I smelled the aromas of beef stew, some nice looking casserole, and so many other things. We were stuck eating tarte flambe, which is really just this paper thin pizza that costs 7 euro and was shared by SIX people at my table, leaving me with only 2 slices. Then our dessert, while delish (it was an ice cream raspberry cake), paled in comparison to the trésors chocolat enjoyed by our neighbors. So I was kinda dissapointed by that, especially since I know we probably payed much more than it was worth.
After dinner, we went for le cafe at a little shop while deciding what to do with the night. My roommate, my new friend LT and I knew we wanted to break off from our lighter complexioned cohorts, but since we have obviously been self selecting, we decided to at least enjoy our coffee with them. Against our better judgment we waited around after, and the madness commenced. We were taking pics of a cathedral lit up in its beauty at night, when our cohorts saw some French teens dancing to Chamillionaire’s “Riding Dirty,” so they decided to take pics. My roommate was lulled into the scene because our cohorts know very very little French, and she’s the resident attempter since she knows a little more and is comfortable with trying. Being the paranoid, unconcerned, not-wanting-to-be-bothered-with-rowdy-teens person that I am, I went over to the sidelines with LT and conversed with her as we waited for the next move. What happened between then and the next moment, I have no idea since I wasn’t even TALKING to the teens. I suspect they felt like circus attractions and decided to eff with us. Only, effing with us meant effing with me. One of them, deciding he had enough of American tourists, took a bottle of water and randomly selected my head to empty it out on. Why me? Possibly random selection? My theory? I’m the darkest of our group so who better to pick on… Honestly, I’m happy that in 06 and 07, I really worked on my temper since I don’t know the laws here and who knows what would have happened if I had lashed out, especially since they looked like orphans and may have called more. I’m friggin notorious for fighting folks even when I know I’ll prolly lose, but I can’t be losing fights in friggin France, right?? I was so ANGRY but I felt powerless without violence. I don’t even think I cursed because I didn’t want to even get on a small rampage. I walked away, bewildered and wondering what the HELL I could do to release the rage I felt. As we were walking away, the same guy splashed some water on my roommate, who was the only person who tried to be respectful and speak their language and actually try to understand them. Words can not describe this scene accurately. Words can not describe how crazy and unimaginable the whole scene was. Words can not describe how I felt. Just imagine that of 8 girls, 4 white, 1 Asian, 2 fair-skinned black girls, and moi, I was the one who was targeted. I know there are cultural differences all over the world, but c’mon. You cannot tell me that anywhere in the world people don’t know that black women can’t just shampoo their hair and keep it moving. When is it EVER ok to pour water on a woman, let alone a BLACK woman who clearly has her hair done. And again, why me? Of the 8, 2 of us were not even paying attention to them or standing close to them to disrespect them or argue with them or anything else to instigate something like that. And I was already sick so now I’m in the daggum chilly night dripping wet with no way to not be mad.
So we decide to go ahead and go to Le Retro so that my roommate, who I will call 21 (her line number–she’s a Delta, go figure lol) from now on, can try to calm our nerves. The music sucked, but I will admit I wasn’t as angry by the time I left. So to get back to the Chateau, we would have to take a train and then catch a cab. Well… because I was distracted by one of the girls who was dead set on meeting French guys, I wasn’t helping 21 read the train map, and she was also distracted b/c one of the girls is very very very much a talker. So we end up going in the wrong direction, which wouldn’t be a problem during the day, but definitely is at that time of night. The last train going in the other direction had already gone out for the day. When we got on the train, our cohorts decide to ask help from a clearly stoned out French guy. They said they didn’t notice his stoned out appearance and behavior. Can you say oblivious? By now, I’m in mission mode because I do not get lost. So my main purpose now is to get to the Chateau. Since he was stoned, he was not an option. When we got off the train, after seeing that we were in largely residential area and set back from a main street, LT and I set out to find solutions. I looked at the pay phone, realized it was impossible for me to figure it out in a timely fashion and LT looked for a train station worker. And just to illustrate that the crazy stalker was truly not trying to help but harrass, he was standing nearby with a cell phone in his hand and could have called a taxi at any time. Meanwhile, our cohorts are STILL talking to this fiend trying to get him to understand them and call a taxi for us. 21 is speaking pretty coherently but because she was not white, he ignored every word she uttered. By now, LT and I have talked to a worker who said we needed to WALK back to the city center because there were no more trains and the taxis didn’t travel to that area. Now, the cracked out French hater is calling the girls stupid Americans and asking if all American women are stupid and dumb. One of the cohorts decided she would go into a word battle with him even though she KNEW he wasn’t listening to her. LT and I started mapping out our plan–walking toward the street lights and cars and keeping watch of police or taxis. 21 started trying to make sure one of the cohorts who was having difficulty walking was okay and trying to get the girls to ignore this guy, which did not happen because we were with totally street unsmart people who never experience trouble. Long story short, I led a pack (my thing is, either you’re in or you’re out–I’m getting home so you can come with me or you can get abducted) keeping my eye on the train track itself knowing it was going somewhere. LT was keeping calm and playing mother hen and trying to keep the group kinda clustered, and 21 was trying to get them to stop talking to this guy WHO WAS STILL FOLLOWING US and by then, was counting us to see if he could take us while steadily feeling his pockets… Which to me means that he was either trying to call friends or he possibly had a weapon. The farther we walked, the more irrational he became and the more our argumentative cohort egged him on. I saw the train depot where the trains go at the end of the night and use my limited French to ask the operator to call us a taxi. Feeling proud of myself, I scream to the lagging folks that it was okay and a taxi would be there soon. Then the GUY TELLS THE OPERATOR NOT TO CALL, that we really didn’t know what we wanted and that he was handling it, and the operator started hanging up the phone. So 21 gestured to the operator to please still call so he did. All the while, our cohort is STILL arguing with this man. CRAZINESS!!!!!!!!! Then he pulled out a cell phone and I notice a car in the distance RANDOMLY start up so I got in battle mode cuz my legacy was NOT ending in France. Luckily it was a coincidence. THEN one of the other cohorts that had done pretty good about keeping up during the walk starts to repeat “cab” to the operator who does not really speak English and who has ALREADY called the cab and was prolly getting irritated and feeling mocked. The first taxi comes and we get the girls in that one and explain to the driver where they needed to go while making sure he understood and would go straight there and waited for the next one. Finally, ours got there and finally the crazy azz guy leaves. Luckily, while he spoke no English, our driver was Moroccan and NOT French and made us feel a little better about being minorities in France. What freaks me out is that while we were still at the train station, there were people who I know spoke English and would not help this group of girls clearly being harrassed by this guy. And it freaked me out that my control was limited in the situation because we were surrounded by girls who felt it was important to argue with someone who was pointless. I kept trying to tell them that we should focus on our #1 goal, which was to get home, NOT trying to eradicate this guy’s hatred. I really hate to imagine what would have happened to them if the 3 Musketeers had decided to go off on our own and celebrate the end of slavery as we had planned. I will say our Asian friend could have held hers for awhile cuz she’s not a wuss and she was smart, but 1 smart person with 4 clueless ones? I dunno… I just wonder why I was subjected to such foolishness when I didn’t start it and when I was trying to be proactive and away from crazy situations. I guess I needed more confirmation that it’s okay to not be in a group sometimes. People wonder why I’m a loner so much of the time, but CLEARLY, my being a loner is safer than being with a group of friggin risk takers who don’t even know they’re taking risks.
So moral of the story: Don’t move to Strasbourg. Ok, ok, that’s extreme. But for real. I’m sticking with my gut from here on out. No more playing nice with the majority and trying to fit in the group. If they want to go out and make crazy decisions, I will not suffer the consequences. I know my place at home, and I know my place here. I’ll go where I know I won’t be randomly victimized, and I’ll stay with people I know will make smart decisions when in a bind. More stories to come.