“Helloooooo Sheperdstown, West Virginiaaaaaaaa!”
Crickets. All I hear are crickets. The concierge told me that Wednesday Night Karaoke at the Rumsey Bar was the highlight of the week. As I step on stage and look out onto the packed room of lily-white West Virginians, I reconsider whether performing “Jump” by Kriss Kross is really a good idea. Because aside from my irregularly rapid heartbeat and the sweat beads rolling from my hairline into my inner ear, all I hear are crickets.
“Sorry about the mic feedback everyone, my hands just won’t stop shaking! Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Um…so…how’s everybody out there doing tonight?! My name is Tinu and I’m here at the Eastern Development Management Center with the group from the Presidential Management Fellowship Program. Where you at PMFs?! Where you at?! Okay! Okay! I see you! I see you! So…uh…I’m a little nervous because this is my first time--”
“We got ourselves a KARAOKE VIRGIN!” the deejay’s sudden exclamation startled me. I took a step back away from the crowd toward the back of the stage.
“VIR-GIN! VIR-GIN! VIR-GIN!” the crowd erupted while clapping, hi-fiving, and table banging. I took another step back.
“Yes. I am a virgin so please be gentle. I-am-a-ka-ra-o-ke-vir-gin,” I state slowly, elongating every syllable as much as possible to stave the inevitable. I just hope this goes over better than that scene with Cameron Diaz in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”
“Well, I hope you like this song,” I continue. “It’s an oldie but goodie. Excuse me Mr. Deejay, sir? How does this work? Where am I supposed to look? Oh, at the screen? Okay, thank you.”
By the end of my performance, the crowd is clearly impressed with my ability to rhyme “Some of them try to rhyme but they can’t rhyme like this,” “Miggida Mac Daddy” and “Wiggida wack” three times fast. I carry an air of euphoria as I leave the stage high-fiving the deejay amid thunderous applause, making my way back to a table where my fellow PMFs and an Appletini awaited. That night, I learn three important life lessons:
1. Take risks.
2. White people love hip-hop.
3. Challenge the assumptions.
And like that fateful Wednesday night at Rumsey’s Bar, starting “Yesweretogether.com” is new, risky, and uncharted territory. All I hear are crickets. I’m a website/blog virgin. I reconsider whether writing about the humorous realities of interracial/intercultural love in modern America is really a good idea. My heart is beating fast and my palms are sweaty. The difference is that now I know courage isn’t waiting for the absence of fear, but doing things afraid.