2010-04-04

Black Kevin

So I'm in a bar bathroom. Don't picture something skeezy, because even though it's a dumpy bar, the bathroom is disproportionately fancy and immaculate with marble, new tiling, and gold trim. Someone earlier had made a joke about having sex in the bathroom before claiming to be "too classy" to do that, but I pointed out that having sex in this bathroom would not be as gross as a scenario at another establishment since it's so well kept. Honestly, the bathroom would probably be a nicer place to hook up than a lot of the clientele's bedrooms.

But my bar bathroom story is not about sex. Or bowel movements, for that matter, sorry to disappoint. I am using the pretty porcelain urinal when the dude peeing next to me momentarily breaks Guy Code© to compliment me. Before you get the wrong idea, I performed some karaoke moments earlier, and this guy is impressed with my rendition of "Breakfast at Tiffany's." I thank him and we both resume our obligatory silence for the next ten seconds as we finish peeing. While we wash our hands at adjacent sinks, he starts the conversation again, saying that he "dig[s] my energy" while singing. I ask him if he will be singing, and he says he is looking forward to performing some Rick Astley soon. The whole time we talk, we are basically over-doing it with the hand washing. Because we are both hyper-aware of the other's actions, neither of us want to appear unhygienic so we lather to the point of excess.

Finally, we both move on to the paper towels and wrap up our conversation. "Well, good to meet you," the guy says. He sticks out his hand to shake mine, but then pulls it back. "Ah, I'm sorry, that's gross, you don't want to touch the hand of someone you just met while peeing." I smile and shoot out my hand anyway. "Actually, we just watched each other scrub our hands for like a full minute. Our hands are as clean as they're ever going to be!" He agrees, so we shake rigorously while laughing. "I have never felt so confident in the cleanliness of a handshake, this is great!" I add. (In the moment, this really does seem like a remarkable accomplishment and a time to treasure, but I'll at least partially chalk this up to alcohol.)

We laugh again, and he says, "I'm sorry, Kevin." "How'd you know my name is Kevin?" I ask. "No, I was saying sorry that we hadn't introduced our names yet, and that my name is Kevin," Kevin says. "And you're Kevin, too?" "Yes, my name is Kevin, too," I tell him. "That's so funny, we have a lot in common."

All right, at this point, you readers probably think the two Kevins are becoming a little too familiar and that this story does in fact end in bathroom bar sex, but, no, it's not like that, it was just an uncharacteristically friendly moment that ended there.

At this point, I return to my friends' table and I tell them I just met a nice guy in the bathroom who has the same name as me, and I gesture at him from across the bar. "Which one?" Lena asks. "The black one," I say, adding, "He's Black Kevin."

Lena, and a couple of other friends at the table, are black, and they hastily get on my case and ask why he has to be "Black Kevin." Immediately, my liberal guilt kicks in, and I insist that they're right, that's not fair and that I should have to be referred to as "White Kevin."

I'm overly sensitive to this, perhaps, because five years ago, I was at this house party and this Asian guy looked a lot like my friend Preston who was also in attendance. We called the guy "Asian Preston," and he eagerly accepted this monicker, but I always wondered why they guy was so willing to defer to being the copy, and why he didn't counter with the suggestion that Preston should be called "Half-white/Half-Mexican Jim." Jim wasn't actually his name, I don't think we ever learned his actual name since he was so down to be called "Asian Preston," but you get my point.

So at first I'm willing to accept "White Kevin" as my nickname, but then I think better of it and deliver an impassioned speech to Lena and crew. "His friends -- his friends should call me White Kevin. That makes sense and that's only fair. But my friends should just call me Kevin. I shouldn't have to be 'White Kevin' when you don't even know this other Kevin. To you, he is 'Black Kevin' and that is that!" Just like the germ-free handshake, this issue seems very important in the moment. Fortunately, my friends agree with my stance and I earn back the distinction of just being called "Kevin" again.

As for Black Kevin... well, I don't know really know much else. But he does do an impressive baritone cover of "Never Gonna Give You Up," so I'm pleased to call him my black namesake.