I always wondered why I thrive the way that I do—athletically, academically, socially, romantically. Is it because my lack of tact, diluted sense of bashfulness, and unique brand of boldness (coming to a convenience store near you this fall) allows me to say anything and act in a manner that simultaneously shocks and intrigues? Could it be the unusually chiseled abs, or the legs that rival most super models and/or flamingos (take your pick), that give me a “leg up” on the competition? Or possibly it’s my insatiable lust for attention, derived from my childhood abandonment by my parents in that burning field of rice patties so many years ago. I suppose these are all feasible grounds to diagnose my knack for getting by without doing much at all to merit my glamorous accolades.
Then it hit me, all by accident.
I was on Wikipedia.org the other day, the wonderful web-based free encyclopedia (Take that, 18 piece Encyclopedia Britannica! I want my 31 easy payments of 32.95 back…. with interest!) doing a little catching up on my Lord of the Rings knowledge for the upcoming convention. I browsed through some little-known Gandalf tidbits, checked on an updated map of the Shire, and figured I’d wrap it up with a little J.R.R. trivia. So I attempted to type Tolkienisms, hoping for some witty quotes overheard while he was knockin back a few with ole Clive Staples. But lo and behold, I forget the “I” and “L,” and typed in “tokenisms” which then led me to the following epiphany.
According to Wikipedia, Tokenism refers to a policy or practice of limited inclusion of members of a minority group, (although) their difference may be overemphasized or made “exotic” and glamorous. That brief definition summed up a lifetime of party invitations and suspiciously long laughter following my jokes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, a Greek philosopher, or a the inventor of silly putty to realize where an young, slender yet well-built African American male can use this to his advantage in, say… Malibu.
Naturally, it also got me thinking, “How can I take my experiences and share this with the faithful masses, which are the Gather Round, Children community?” So just in case you’re not Black in Malibu, here’s a practical way that you too could successfully use your tokenism to your advantage:
1) Lose a Limb: Plenty to choose from. I personally suggest an arm, although a leg wouldn’t be all that bad. Even a hand by its lonesome would do. I mean, just think: you could get a cool hook (see Buster from “Arrested Development,” Season 3), laser-shooting bionic eye (see “The Six Million Dollar Man”), or a machine gun (see Barret Wallace, thank you bachelorhood!).
2) To boost your token status, you might want to get a cool story to go along with it. I suggest getting the limb bitten off by a shark. I’m not sure how many people you know who have personally suffered shark attacks, but in my experience, they get a lot of attention. You can go to any local aquarium (or if you’re very brave, Florida), cover the desired limb in fish guts or your bait of choice, and then stick that bad boy into the tank when no ones looking. Then begin taunting. Something like: “Hey stupid sharks, bet you can’t bite off just this one limb and then leave me and my team of doctors to tend my excruciatingly painful wound.”
So go out and figure out what puts you in the glamorous minority and then place yourself in an environment that really causes you to stand out. I’ll be praying for the day when all of you GRC fans get the special attention and privileges I do.
As I hear people shouting things like, “Hey 3rd nipple kid, you want to party?” or “Hey, Hunchback boy, I’ve got a special treat for you, just because you’re different,” I’ll be smiling from ear to ear. I hope you all will too.
Except for you, one-eared girl.