January 23, 2013

Django... Unchained: Stereotyping Black Men and Black Dogs.

Warning:  Swearing and insights into the mind of a paranoid and delusional woman ahead...

This is my dog.  His name is Django.  We selected the name Django because we like it - it sounds fun and springy - just like our dog.  I became familiar with the name Django after hearing the music of Django Reinhardt. 

 My husband, who is a Star Wars fan, is quick to point out that Boba Fett's dad is also called Django; however, Jango Fett spells his name without the D and therefore it is NOT the same name.

Quentin Tarantino's new film is called "Django Unchained."  It stars Jamie Foxx as the beleaguered Django, a slave who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal plantation owner.  I saw this film and I loved (the non-violent and disturbing parts of) it.  Django kicks ass!

We have been hearing a lot of jokes about Quentin's Django and our Django.

The most recent comedy happened in the wake of a service call to our home.  We had been having trouble with our house alarm since my moronic neighbour deliberately severed our telephone line.  This evil act required a service call.  We thought the problem was fixed.

A week or so later, my neighbours on the other side of the house (the nice ones) set off our alarm accidentally when they came in to check on dear Djing-Djang.  I neglected to tell them that I had activated the alarm -oops! - and so it rang loudly and proudly for a prolonged period.  I don't think the nabes are scarred for life, but I am certain that they briefly loathed me.  When the alarm is tripped, the monitoring station is supposed to get a notification and then the Police are contacted.  The Police should then call to check out the situation.  This did not happen.  I know this because my call display indicated that no one called while we were out - no alarm company, no Police.  My neighbour told me that the alarm rang maniacally for a few minutes and eventually stopped.

What the hell am I paying for, I ask you?  I will stop this almost-rant right now and get back to the tale at hand.

After realizing that the alarm monitoring is bogus and/or there is something wrong with said alarm, I called the alarm folk and they sent out a second serviceperson to check it for us, and here is where my story proper begins.

The doorbell rang and Django barked.  I looked through the sidelight to see who was at the door.  I always check out the person before I open the door.  Once bitten, twice shy.

Black guy, black wool hat on sideways (bad boy style), baggy black leather jacket, big black jeans, and untied black workboots.  I could see the Homematix truck in the driveway and so I knew he was legit but still... in the future, could you look please try to look more presentable and respectable, Mr. Alarm Fix-it Man? Perhaps wear something that identifies you as a company employee, like a nametag?  I don't care if you are black or white - hat on sideways, baggy black coat, big black saggyass jeans and workboots not done up says BADASS to me.

Please keep in mind that I have capital "I" Issues with strange men in my house at the best of times.  This dude set off my inner alarm bells.  I really did NOT want to let him in the house.

Deep breath.  

I let him in and he seemed initially wary of my big black dog.

"Is he nice?"

Django, of course, went right up to him, tail wagging, and proceeded to lick him silly.  Repair dude seemed to enjoy this.  When I saw his reaction to Django, I calmed down slightly because he was smiling and jovial and he didn't seem much like an axe murderer.

Repair man still seemed a bit afraid of Django and I was still a bit afraid of him.  We chatted a bit and I felt compelled to say (after he said "nice dog"): "he's nice, if you're nice".  (what b.s! my dog wouldn't hurt a fly!)

Repair dude responded "I'm nice.  Can't you tell?" We laughed. ha ha ha.

I'm going to let you in on a secret, people.  In my experience, the nice ones aren't always nice and therefore I am somewhat wary of sugar sweet men.  In fact, two of the most heinous individuals that I have had the misfortune to interact with (one when I was 8 and one when I was 19) were both "nice" guys.  So that's why I am CAUTIOUS.

Repair dude proceeded to check the alarm pad and then asked me to accompany him to the BASEMENT to the control panel.

My internal alarm began to wail.

WEEEEE YOO, WEEEEE YOO, WEEEEE YOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I HATE basements, I am claustrophobic, I don't want to be down there with a strange man.  There's no exit, it's dark and the ceiling is low.

As I walked downstairs my internal dialogue started sputtering:

okay, breathe.  he's fine. he's gonna push me down the stairs.  where's the hammer? just in case.  i won't need the hammer. but where is it... there's the phone. okay, dog's here. he'll protect me. no he won't. he'll just lick him... jesus et cetera.

We found the panel and as repair dude was checking it out, the phone rang.  I answered it (we have an old rotary phone in our basement).  As I said hello, the line went dead, seriously.  My heart started to thump and I felt like I was in a horror movie.

the phone is dead, he did it, now I can't call for help...

"Why's the phone dead?"  (said hysterically by me)

"I disconnected it".

whaaaaaaaaaa?  ohmygod, ohmygod


lord help me lord help me

"I have to, to check this".

bad timing buddy.  why do you have to disconnect it while i'm on the phone? are you trying to scare me, you mofo?

A minute or so of silence, which feels like 10 minutes.  I have backed up and am watching him from afar, ready to spring for the stairs if I need to.

"Here.  I'm done. Phone's back up".

I check it, immediately, and I am relieved to hear a dial tone.  I breathe.  Deeply.

Time to go back upstairs. Yes!  He tells me that we have to set off the alarm and then let it ring for two minutes while he checks it again.  TWO MINUTES?????  IS HE CRAZY??

I set the alarm, wait a minute, then open the front door and close it again. At this point, the alarm system wants me to enter my code and so it begins to chirrup.  The chirping goes on for about thirty or forty seconds and I'm stressing out and this isn't even the real alarm!  It's just an annoying, low volume beeping.

Okay, get ready, here it comes.  


The neighbours are going to think that I am a psycho.  Oh wait, they already do.

Repair dude reaches into his tool bag and pulls out two weights.  They look like this (thank you Google images):

What are those for? he's going to hit me with them i know it.

"What are those for?" I try to sound casual but I am freaking out inside.

"They're to simulate breaking glass".

He brushes past me and walks into the office where he clangs them together in front of the large window (the alarm is supposedly sensitive enough to pick up on the sound of breaking glass - not sure that I believe this but whatever gets you through the night...).

The irony of a large black man who looks like a prowler pretending to break into my house is not lost on me.

He walks around to all of the windows on the main floor and does his thing with the weights,  this while the alarm continues to wail.

I cower in the office and wait for it to be over.

Two minutes later, he asks me to deactivate the alarm by entering my code.  I am happy to oblige.  That 2 minutes felt like an eternity.

quiet. it's quiet.  oh i love quiet.

He tells me that he's done and that everything is fine, it all works.  I thank him.  As he's about to leave, he turns around and asks me the dog's name again.

"It's Django".

"Django?" He smiles.    "Like the movie?"

"Yup." I smile back.  "We didn't name him after the movie though.  He's named after a gypsy guitarist - Django Reinhardt."

He laughs.

"That's funny, man.  And he's a big black dog!"

I laugh.  "It's only funny because he's a big black dog", I say to the big black man that is standing in my front hall.  We both smile and say goodbye and I am left thinking how funny it is that I've judged him and he's judged my dog and we've both learned something.