I talked with a dude at Walmart about the cartful of Play-doh tiny cans he was buying. He said he’s getting them for Halloween because some of his neighbors are worried the candy children eat might carry C19, to which we laughed and then I acknowledged he’s probably right – some people are just that silly – and he had a great idea. So I loaded up my cart with tiny Play-doh cans and we got to talking about him being retired from Boeing and moving to the new Del Webb community just down the street from me. I asked if he came from Everett because my college roommate lived on Whidbey Island for a while, and then I launched into a geology spiel on the Cascades, explaining my gig is geology stuff. I also spoke about the peer advocacy stuff I do and it turns out his cousin in Alabama (where he is from originally) has paranoid schizophrenia that was diagnosed when he was ten, long before all the current antipsychotics became available. I told him about my difficulty with using an antipsychotic as a mood stablizer for my bipolar, and how weight gain as a side effect sucks soggy donkey tail. I also said I’m originally from SoCal, as long as we were trading home states. He then asked about the cliffs behind the house and I explained the Rio Grande rift and reverse topography, and then explained desert varnish and creating petroglyphs. I offered to take him on a tour of our shared “national park backyard” so we’re hanging tomorrow morning and I’m invited to a barbecue at his house on Saturday, which I’m going to because he promised brauts. He said he’s really liking the neighborhood because everyone is so friendly to each other.

Did I mention my new friend is black? Why would I? Did I mention I’m first generation Chinese/Tahitian in America? Why would I? We didn’t note this of each other because it really doesn’t matter in any way other than he makes a slightly better ninja than I do. Not because he’s of darker pigmentation and I’m of not as dark pigmentation. I was baiting the conversation with a nonsense quip because it can come across as racist or at least acknowledging I considered his pigmentation which I assure it really doesn’t matter. Neither of us found it germane to our Play-doh chat and skin color is merely incidental. What’s important is I got a solid recommendation on how to make neighborhood kids happy on Halloween from a new friend.

Stop looking for oppression everywhere because it’s not the reality. Yes, social inequality is also real. It’s just not lurking around every corner and hiding behind every shadow. As Bill & Ted say, “Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes!”