We rent the third floor of our house to a friend, whom we’ll call M. M is an accomplished scientist at a local campus research institute. She is cheerful and bubbly, is our go-to person for celebrity and movie info during trivia night, but she also has her serious side. She’s Indian, but she’s lived in the US for the past 10 years. She claims that my wife is the first “true American” she became friends with. I met a bunch of her friends when she was moving in a couple of months ago, and that seems to hold; most of them are internationals. Like her.
We introduced her to Cards Against Humanity shortly after she moved in, and she is absolutely hooked on the game. Mostly, it seems, for the educational aspects. I still remember the absolute shock on her face when we had to explain what the “Smallpox Blankets” card alluded to. So, yes, she’s learning a lot about US history and culture.
But I can’t get over my shock from a couple weeks ago when she played the “Ass to Mouth” card, knowing full well what it meant. Here’s a person who didn’t know what a “Coathanger Abortion” was but who knew the absolute best time to play “Ass to Mouth”? (Not that knowing one automatically leads to knowing about the other, but they’re both extremely taboo topics.)
This initial wave of shock eventually gave way to an uneasy feeling of shame. Why had I assumed she wouldn’t know what “Ass to Mouth” means? What does that say about the assumptions I’ve made about her? Had I assumed she wouldn’t know “Ass to Mouth” because she’s Indian? Because she’s a woman? Or maybe because she’s an international (as if Americans were the ones who invented “Ass to Mouth”)? M is an incredibly educated, mature woman, so why did I think there’s no way she’d know about “Ass to Mouth”? Does this make me a racist? A misogynist? Or is it something more fundamental, something paternalistic? From what deep subconscious well does this underestimation of her knowledge of “Ass to Mouth” spring from?
Oof. This is getting a little uncomfortable.