The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Most Humiliating Moment

Another reason I didn't criticize "Trek" for the Uhura-Spock episode. (The first one being that I loved the movie, thought it worked well, and gave it a special dispensation). Ms. Saldana's mother, Theresa, and I have a small amount of humiliating history...

Some of you may already be aware of Theresa Saldana's rather notorious history. If not, you will in a minute. Well, I was at a party at Norman Spinrad's house maybe twenty years ago. He hob-nobbed with Hollywood types, and there was a slender brunette who looked very familiar there. I introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Steven Barnes."

"Hi," she replied. "I'm Theresa Saldana."

I'm sure my brow wrinkled. "I'm sure I know that name," I said, desperately searching my memory. She seemed a little uncomfortable, and I was certain that she had a fragile ego, and needed to know that I knew who she was. Actress? Yes. But where...

Finally, she sighed. "I was stalked by a man who stabbed me several times," she said.

Suddenly, the entire memory burst back on me. The headlines, the television stories, the whole horrible mess. But all I felt was relief that the question was resolved. "Oh, yeah!" I burst out. "Great!"

I'll draw a veil across the rest of the evening. Leave it that that may have been my all-time low in social discourse.


All right--that was my most humiliating gaff. What's yours?


Watching "Transformers" with Jason, and...wait just a damned minute. Wasn't "Jazz", the Transformer with the black voice ("this looks like a cool place to kick it") also the only one to die? Damn! Even black robots can't survive SF movies. So we have sex less often, and die more often. The artistic equivilent of genocide, I'd think, brought to us care of the collective unconscious.


Christian M. Howell said...

Yeah, that would be humbling. Not sure if I had something like that happen to me.

As far as Transformers, it was th first time I wanted the "black guy" to die.

I mean, white people don't pick the people with the worst diction and vocabulary to represent them.

But again as long as we don't say enough is enough in our own communities, this cheating society won't do anything to change things.

Food for thought:
Intel is the whitest company in the world and have been convicted of cheating to maintain their position in several countries. The US is the last to scrutinize their practices.
That's indicative of the "law says, but we don't care" mentality of the average hick.

They do some low life shit in offices but it's best to beat them at their game.

Evan Robinson said...

According to IMDB, Theresa Saldana (who is Italian-American) has one child, Tianna Peters (b. 1989.08.30). Zoe Saldana (b. 1978.06.19) has no parental data in IMDB, but is of Dominican and Puerto Rican ancestry. So while the connection between Zoe and Theresa might seem obvious, I think it's probably incorrect.

Juan Sanmiguel said...

Just an FYI in the original 80s cartoon Jazz was voiced by Scatman Crothers. He did survive the 1986 Transformers animated feature film when many including Optimus Prime died to make way for new toys.

paul wolfe said...

Hey Steve

Just read this today - thought you'd be VEEEERRRRRRYYYYYY interested.

Steve Perry said...

So many humiliating moments, it's hard to pick one ...

One my favorite: I walked into a bathroom in OHare Aiirport once and saw that the urinals were about eighteen inches off the floor. This was years ago, before various heights became the rage.

So I'm peeing, spaced from hours on the plane, and somebody comes in to take a whiz a couple spots down. And, observing what I thought was proper manly bathroom behavior, of course I didn't look directly at the fellow, but piped up and said, "They must have built this place for midgets."

Glanced over.

You know where this is going, right?

Yep. Some god must have been bored somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Humiliating moment: I had a very severe cold and had been at home for a few days. Though I still felt terrible, I went back to work as soon as I was able because my boss had been losing her cool without me and she needed me to meet with a client who was an old friend of hers. She was really chomping at the bit to have me back. I was very rushed and flustered by the time I got to the office. I was a few minutes late, but I paused outdoors to blow my nose one last time to spare me the embarrassment of have to maybe wipe it in front of someone. I was in a hurry and went right in and there was the boss with the client. He put his hand out, so did I... he snatched his back... seems I still had the gross tissue in the hand that I offered him. He excused himself and as it turns out, he had a very severe phobia of germs. I went home and went back to bed.

Scott said...

My most humiliating moment sounded *really* racist. I keep saying it wasn't and a large minority flatly refuse to believe me. But it wasn't, damn it.

So here it was: I was in a meeting at a company I was doing some technical consulting for, and a couple of suits were arguing strongly that I should manage the technical team on a short-term - less than a quarter - project.

I should not. Management is not among my gifts, honest.

So I refused politely, so they pressed, so I refused politely again, back and forth for about ten minutes. One of them smiles at me and says, "You can wear a necktie for a couple of months..."

And I snarl "I am NOT going to wear a slave collar-" to the black executive in the thousand dollar suit and hundred dollar Thai silk you-know-what.

I was expressing my frustration and my dislike of neckties... and darned effectively; that company never, ever again suggested my working for them in a management capacity. Dr. Smooth....

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Probably not my worst gaffe, but it's this past weekend so it's pretty fresh.

I met Henrietta Edelscheinkkkat a party. She said very nice things about my calligraphy, and I went into my "if you like calligraphy, it's worth taking it up" mode pretty hard. What I didn't realize until the day after at an exhibit of work from herself and her husband, is that she's an excellent sculptor (the photo doesn't begin to do her work justice) and a very good poet. She doesn't need to take up something creative-- she's operating on a much higher level than I am. Wince, wince, wince.

Christian, for what it's worth, whenever I hear a white person use "the black community" as shorthand for poor/criminal/culturally annoying blacks I point out that there is more than one black community, and there's lots of evidence of such. And I spend about five minutes leaning on it until they back down.

I don't know if there's a way to push this argument on a larger scale, nor whether it would work as well with the general public as it does with fans. I like to think that fans are a little more susceptible to logic.

I'm thinking about adding "40 million people can't be a single community".

I'm not convinced that groups can control bigotry by policing their most fucked-up members. It helps some, to the limited extent that it's possible, but bigotry uses bad behavior as an excuse for power-seeking, cruelty, and just not bothering to think.

Steven Barnes said...

Christian, I strongly suspect that you don't love yourself very much. If that's true, and you don't heal it, your chances of ever having a really healthy, loving relationship is pretty low.
I could swear that I heard Zoe Saldana was Theresa's kid. She's not? Oh well, I still liked the performance and the relationship.

Dan Moran said...

Used the 'n' word to provoke a black man into a fight. Did it in front of several black friends and a black girlfriend. I apologized to everyone around me afterward, but the damage was done -- only one of the men was still friendly with me afterward, and he explained it as, "All white people are racists, never thought any different of you."

The girlfriend accepted my apology -- said I was plainly an bad-tempered asshole, not a racist. We broke up not long afterward, and while I don't think that incident was why, it didn't help.

Dan Moran said...

This was 26 years ago. I've lectured black boys on basketball courts since that they shouldn't use the 'n' word because ignorant white boys would use it too, if they did ... never quite had the courage to use myself as an example.