Barbecue

Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

You’re just a little too American
As you and your family kept calling one another chinks
I felt I was attending a bizarre United Nations meeting
As your half-black cousins raced to meet your Mexican girlfriend
As your German speaking uncle took offense to my name
Constantly asking me, “Is that Italian?”
While your dad beat steel tongs on the grill
Flame leaping in the air
Screaming homespun epithets,
“Shitty burgers! Fuck pants!”
While your mother cursed and ventilated hostility at the children
Who couldn’t seem to stop spilling beverages
She ranted and threatened,
“I’ll beat all your asses!”
I believed her and feared for them all
Then came the introduction,
“Everyone, this is my semi-white boyfriend. He is Italian!”
“You don’t seem Italian?”
“Are you from NY?”
(Because all Italians are from NY)
And who were the people speaking French?
Did anyone understand them? Or know them?
Oh, and your pothead brother told me how to grow ‘kind bud’
For two hours!
While your gangsta uncle smiled revealing gold teeth
Agreeing with your brother,
“Crucial. True that.”
It was a surreal experience watching you and your family
As they conversed in fake Chinese
Because you’re all Chinese- but none of you speak the language!
While country music blared from the stereo
That haphazardly hung from the second-floor window
As you kept insisting that the roaming cats
Were being raised for consumption
Amidst the chaos of diversity and American exceptionalism,
You quick cast your smile to me between your antics
And the day was perfect.