Know Your Place

Okay. This weekend I had an encounter that left me annoyed.

I went to an amazing party called #Gumbo on Saturday night. I went alone, but that’s the beauty of Toronto…you can go somewhere and see at least three people you know*.

(*and apparently one who knows you but that’s another story…)

At the party, I get to bump into one of my favourite people, the insanely talented Tanika Charles, freshly back (safely!) from the US. Big hugs and we immediately try to catch up on life stuff. In the middle of story, we get this:

“Excuse me…but why do you have Mandarin Chinese characters? What do they mean?”

About once a year, I’m asked about my tattoos. Yes. They’re in Chinese. Yes. I’ve confirmed that they mean what I wanted them to mean. Yes. I know what style they’re written in…

I explain politely what they mean and why I have them.

Dude proceeds to interview me Dateline style about my tattoo. I feel like each time I’ve answered, that my tone conveys that “okay, we’re done yes?” subtext. If not, there’s my facial expression: bored. My body language: turned away. My eyebrow: definitely arched at some point.


Mr. Journalism 101 continues asking questions.

Please remember, we’re at a party and it’s loud. Which means half of this convo excludes Tanika.

Oh. Mr. Journalism 101 has not even asked my name.


Finally he asks my name. I gave him one of my nicknames. He then turns to Tanika and asks her name…

Me: “you don’t know the voice of Canadian RnB? Whaaaa?”

(Shameless plug: BUY SOUL RUN RIGHT NOW)

Ms. T demurs…but she’s never been a braggart about her talent. I on the other hand, brag every chance I get (see above)…Journo 101 admits that he doesn’t know her. I’m about to go into my full pitch (it’s a reflex), but Ms. T gives the clue that she doesn’t want to be “on” at the moment, and I pipe down. I say to him, “here, give me your phone…”, which he does eagerly.

Silly rabbit.He thought he was gonna get my number. I only gave him three letters of my name, why would I give him ten digits?

I google Tanika’s name and screen cap it on his phone.

“Here. Tomorrow look her up. Listen. Buy the album.”

“You think I would forget this conversation?”

“Yes. I think you would.”

“You think I would forget all that you told me about your tattoos…?”


(please do…please forget)

He then turns to Ms. T and chats for a moment. He turns back to me and says, “…hopefully I haven’t intruded on a conversation or that I should go…?”

He gives me a hopeful smile.

“Yes. And…yes.”

He FINALLY realizes he’s not wanted and says his g’byes. Promises Tanika he will look her up. Thanks her for the convo and gives a half handshake, half hug thing that totally catches her off guard. He turns to me for a hug and…

I hold my hand out.

He shakes it while thanking me for the education in tattoos.

“You’re still holding my hand…”

He makes a hasty retreat.



**”Know Your Place” will now be the title of my future memoirs…thank you Tanika for the title!


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