de·lu·sion [dih-loo-zhuhn] — n
1. a mistaken or misleading opinion, idea, belief, etc.
A cardinal rule in creative writing is to never tell the reader when you can show the reader, and I've found this approach useful when telling people that my husband--contrary to their assumption--is not black. When my husband and I first began dating, the first people who knew were my two closest friends in North Carolina. Meanwhile, my parents and their friends were in Maryland scheming to marry me off to an eligible, Nigerian bachelor. So my first experience involved "breaking the news" to my dad over the phone while my mom was out of town for a conference. Our conversation was the epitome of brevity:
Me: "Hi dad. I met this guy, that I really like, and we've decided to start dating. I just wanted to let you and mom know."
Dad: "Okay, well just make sure that you spend time talking about things that are important and you really get to know each other."
At this point in the conversation I'm thinking to myself: "This has been way too easy! What I'm I forgetting?" And then suddenly I remember:
Me: "Oh, by the way, he's white."
Dad: "UHHHHHHOOOOOOH....I need to talk to your mother."
And then my dad hangs up.
Ideally, I wouldn't have heard that little voice that said "Tinu, you better tell your Dad he's white!" but I'd sat through enough conversations with my parents to know how they felt about interracial relationships and how sharply their opinions diverged on the subject. I don't remember much else about that night except my mom calling from whatever time zone she was in to make sure my dad wasn't hearing things. In hindsight I realize the shock would have been lessened if I hadn't called home and just showed up one Thanksgiving with my husband (then boyfriend) in tow like he was just another friend from law school looking for a place to crash for the holiday. My brother dated girls throughout high school and college who weren't Nigerian and I don't think my parents ever gave them a second thought or saw them as any cause for serious concern. But up to that point, my dad knew me better than anyone in the world, so when he got the call, he knew this was serious. Turns out he was right.
Some of the most comical "breaking the news" moments are when I've dropped several hints that my husband isn't who the person people assume that he is but people still don't quite get it until my husband appears and shock (or embarassment) comes over their face. To a certain extent, I empathize with people who initially assume that my husband is black because I make the same assumptions about other people too. And the most telling conversations are when someone finds out my husband's race after they've poured out their heart to me about how disgusted they are by interracial relationships or after they make some disparaging remark about a specific person and then attribute that characteristic to all men of a particular race. I could tell you more about it, but I thought it would be more entertaining to show you. So in the spirit of humor and parody, and in the same vein as "So You Want to Go to Law School" and "Black Marriage Negotiations," I bring you: "Breaking the News: Delusional Demetrius," starring me and my make believe mentor, compliments of Xtranormal. Enjoy!