Are Blacks High Maintenance?

We used to lounge around a lot during the internship, particularly if it was a slow day, and given that we had three couches in the room that was our office, it was common practice to stretch out on the couch and put our heads on the pillows–although God knows who had farted or put bare feet on the couch.  So I had kinda started to bug everyone because they all were putting their shoes on the couch–the very same couch we put our faces on.  I had also started to irritate everyone because if I saw someone’s feet on the tables–the same tables where we ate our lunches, I’d tell them to take it down.

So, I remember that the kick-off during my internship where we first met a lot of the youth we’d be working with that summer, they suggested that we have a volleyball net, and I thought it was a good idea.  One of the interns (who has ADHD and some other social quirks that have prevented him from moving forward in life, but that’s just my assessment) came in with the volleyball net and steaks and just threw them on the couch with dirt and all manner of NASTINESS onto the black cloth couch.

Well, i went off.

I further went off when I saw that there were BUGS–actual creepy crawly things–crawling off of the couch wondering why the hell they were there.  And I was asking the same question.  Now that was kind of the line even for everyone else with me and the other intern, the one who I was cool with like “Man, that’s not cool”  but the one who brought it in, barely shrugging it off as if he hadn’t done anything wrong.  And the final intern more mad at the fact that I severely scolded a 19-year-old.

Well, that was one of the pinnacles of my “high maintenance” but it certainly wasn’t the only one.  But forgive me if I’m a full proponent of creature comforts such as air-conditioning and indoor plumbing.  Clearly, I was having a very hard time when we went to CreationFest and had to do the camping thing for four nights–with only a Port-A-Potty.  They made fun of me because I ironed my shirts and jeans in the morning before I came into work, and at least pointed out how my footwork matched my shorts (I have a pair of Chucks where the inside matches a pair of plaid shorts).

So, in my final one-on-one with my youth director, he threw out the phrase that I was “high maintenance” and I tried my best to explain to him that all of my friends iron their clothes and don’t put their feet on tables lounging around at work.

I don’t think he got it.

I’m really not a germaphobe, I’m really not.  I mean, I still pick my nose if it itches enough and there is no tissue readily available.  But as far as nasty versus clean, I squarely fall in the clean category.  Neat vs. clean is a toss-up.  I mean, I will take off a pair of pants and just leave em there, but to me, that’s just junky, not nasty.  Random farting, and making a big deal out of it and putting feet up on EVERYTHING like it’s yours–while wearing flip flops is NOT my idea of what’s up.

In my own limited frame, everytime I saw one of them just prop random feet up on something in the back of my mind I was shaking my head and saying “White people.”   So, I wonder if they were in the back of their collective heads saying “Black people.”  And moreover, I wonder who’s right.  In their mindframe, I was completely making a mountain out of a molehill, and I was just doing wayyyyyyyyyy too much by making sure I ironed my clothes and that my footwork matched what I had on that day.

I just thought they were plained nasty.  I never thought that it was a big deal that they didn’t match, or that they didnt iron their clothes.  I mean somedays I don’t either, but that’s dependent on what I wear.  If it’s really just a t-shirt and jeans day, I’m not ironing.  But if I’m putting on a polo, I’m ironing it; and if there’s the worlds biggest crease in a pair of jeans, I’m ironing them as well.

I also ask is this something that is a cultural difference, and a racial difference by default?  I mean, the white folk I knew, the handful that it was, was just about as laxed about clothing as these were.  Even with the teens, the boys–OMG–some of them clearly weren’t showering from day to day and were wearing the same clothes.  One of them would always wear a purple bandana, brown shorts and a blue shirt from Family Force 5 (actually one I threatened to steal from him cuz I thought it was a hot graphic tee).  Now, I thought the kid was cool to hang out with–but damn, fashion just wasn’t priority, and from the smell, neither was hygeine.

So am I high maintenance because I don’t put my feet on things and don’t want people around me doing it, out of the simple reason that I don’t want their germs, because I want to make sure I look decent when I step out of the house by matching and ironing my clothes–or am I just acking snobbish? 

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8 thoughts on “Are Blacks High Maintenance?

  1. It’s not just you, honey, white people can be nasty. Ever notice it’s the little white starlets runnin’ round with no panties. You don’t hear about Gabrielle (Union) or Rihanna or B pulling that kind of foolishness. I don’t know why some white people are so lax about these things. But I would have been real freaked out about bugs coming out of a volleyball net up on the couch in the office and anywhere in the vicinity of food – gross!!!! That ain’t high maintenance – that’s called home training be glad you have it and feel sorry for those who don’t.

  2. first a few things:

    1) the people who you interned with sound like certifiable NUTS!!! in all your posts about these people, they all seem oblivious to what goes on outside their little world of existence.

    2) you are better than me…you “sowed a lot of quilts” this summer. me…i would have put my pathwork down and proceeding to poke one of them with my quilting needle (aka let them have it verbally)….but that’s just me 🙂

    3) and this had me HOLLERING: “One of the interns (who has ADHD and some other social quirks that have prevented him from moving forward in life, but that’s just my assessment…”

    okay….now on to my real comment. you are not high maintenance just because you want to look presentable. i, too, iron most everything i put on. it’s not like i have mass clothes or even really expensive clothes, so what i have i take care of. nothing wrong with that…what you are doing, IMO, is an indication of how you view yourself internally. if you feel blah blah, chances are you dress that way, and the opposite is true, too.

    but i do think there is also a cultural element. not only do “we” have to play the game, we have to “look the part” to play the game. there are many stereotypes that are made towards us and the way we dress that are not spoken to other groups. i think we understand that in certain environments and therefore, dress accordingly.

    i don’t think we are high maintenance. i think some of us like to look nice, understand the value of daily showers, and like to coordinate (like John Witherspoon in Boomerang — BANG BANG BANG!! LOL). So “others” can call me high maintenance all they want. Don’t hate; congratulate homey!!!!

  3. well personally i don’t think you are high maintenace just because you like or dislike doing or having those things done around you. personally i feel that way as well but some things are and have to be said because there is a time and place in which you can do some of those things. but hygeine is a must…

  4. I’m white and from what you say, I fall into the category of what you call “junky”. (Though perhaps the “nasty” element does creep in from time to time—NOT, however, with any of the charming activities you mentioned above).

    But the idea that this is somehow a white cultural thing? Let me pop that particular baloon for you—-with relish. Because the fellow white people I’ve known run the full gamut from over-the-top nasty (some of my college acquaintences), to messy/sloppy (me), to neat and fussy (my sister, a few friends, most girls I met in school), to psychotic clean-freak (my freshman roomate—surely the worst match-up in college history).

    Hell, the existence of “The Odd Couple” and all its derivatives should be enough to tell anyone that people with primarily Caucasoid ancestry can’t be lumped into an either/or proposition. XD

  5. @Marbles

    Forgive me if I came off as speaking in absolutes, nothing is absolute. However, I would suspend college from the equation, that’s such a skewed microcosm as far as reality is concerned. However, I will continue the assertion that there are some small cultural differences–and I believe that that is one of them.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong I know black people that are nasty–and I mean NASTY, but I think you may have missed the point which kind of proves my point with you being white. Now don’t get me wrong, not saying its a bad thing, but the simple fact that when if I say something, another black person gets the underlying assumptions, and white folk wouldn’t get it. The opposite is true as well–I experienced that more than once during my internship.

    But, I think it’s a safe assumption that white people are a little more laxed when it comes to certain things–putting feet up on stuff is one of them. White folk have a tendency to run around barefoot more than your average black person. As far as the white folk I was around this summer, none of them seemed to crazed about washing their hands–or having to eat food not having washed their hands.

    I’m not saying all of this is the end of the world. I could care less. I just personally wasn’t to thrilled with the moniker of being “high maintenance” which isn’t exactly the worlds best connotation. I took it in stride and laughed with the joke, but I was definitely singled out in that respect. And in the one-on-one I had with the director, this was actually a point of concern for him seeing as how he felt that he somewhat had to make some concessions because of me.

  6. Well I do think there is a cultural difference here. As someone else stated above part of black people’s cleanness and how we dress comes from having to “play and look the part” but I think a lot of what black people do can always be traced back to slavery. My mother has always said that black people tend to keep cleaner were forced to clean up and take care of other people for 400 years. And even after slavery we were still commissioned to do these jobs.

    White people on the other hand were never in position where they, collectively as a people, HAD to clean. They had the luxury of cleaning when they felt like it.

    I am in college right now and have to admit that there are certain things that my white roommates would do that just irked me. And maybe i’m the only one that has experienced this, but why do they always want you to eat/drink after them using the same fork spoon or cup they just used?

  7. @Maze’s Southern Girl

    I went to an HBCU and granted there were a few just outright NASTY folks–leaving food all around and what not, but yeah, never had the food thing or the toothbrush/toothpaste thing to worry about.

    @Ro

    I guess, lol.

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