Monday, October 30, 2006

white hot black cold

today when taking my son to school, it was freezing cold. i was decked out in my new rain gear zip-in lined jacket, and so were both kids. whenever we get to the school, we usually arrive around the same time "Bob" is there with his boys as well. I noticed that Bob had on a thin jacket, and none of his kids had anything but their shirts on. Hmmm.

i thought it was funny, because my husband and i talk about race issues all the time. and one of the things we have talked about in the past is how it always seems that white people don't seem to get cold. Like, especially here in Oregon, it could be the dead of winter, but as soon as the sun comes out, you see many white people wearing shorts and flip flops. Just because the sun is out doesn't make it warm!!

now, i dont want to offend anyone, but this IS my observation. but you know who else does this? Hubz himself. yes! well, without the flip flops- he's not really into that, but he wears shorts all year round. we live in an older home and even though it's pretty air tight and we've sealed up drafty doors, occasionally, it's drafty. as for me, i have to be warm all the time. in the winter, when i'm lounging at home i'm always in thick socks and flannel lounge gear. but my husband? he's usually barefoot with shorts on.

i affectionately call him polar bear. he has joked in the past that white people are nicknamed polar bears because they dont mind the cold weather and will dress skimpy when it's cold. on the flip side, my husband always relates this story about his college roomate who was black, and in the middle of summer, would be wrapped up in the dorm room in a blanket with the heat on.

black people will say this is because 'we come from africa, which has a warm climate, and the desire to be warm is just in our blood', and vice versa about white people.

so anyway, back to "Bob". gosh i love the guy. i love that even though he's upper middle class and white, he doesnt feel insecure in the hood with all the black and mexican and asians at the school. but for the life of me, i couldn't understand why none of his kids had coats on today. brrr.

9 comments:

Judith said...

LOL! Oh yeah. You are so right.

I used to live in Chicago ... on the predominantly white folks' Gold Coast. Looking out the window of my 13th floor abode, I would scan my neighbors to get a peek at the weather based on their clothing. This had always worked with my predominately black neighbors in the past ... better even that TV weather forecasts.

DUH!! Huge mistake! Under-dressed and freezing was I!! Never again. I quickly learned to check out my new neighbors' attire, but dress the OPPOSITE of them! This we-are-so-different-temperature-and-otherwise recognition was invaluable. Never again was I underdressed and cold.

Lesson learned.

Judith in Seattle
greatly missing cultural connections

Skeezix said...

You know I think you are missing the male/female part of the equation. I have three sisters and they all like to be quite cozy. I on the other hand like to cool myself. Maybe it's just because I am fat. LOL!

Anonymous said...

I spent a year in Japan teaching little shrieking preschoolers to sing the ABC song and say "Hello my name is... nice to meet you."

The one very striking thing is that the uniforms these kids wear all day is a little light-blue smock type shirt, shorts which would almost qualify as "Daisy Dukes", a hat and sneakers.

Even in the dead of winter, they're running around like that. Teeny humans with permanently runny noses.

They don't look warm at all.

And the flipside?? I dare to wear a short-sleeved shirt on a 50-degree spring day, and all anyone in Japan can think of to ask is: "Aren't you cold?"

Anonymous said...

After taking coursework in physical anthropology, I became convinced body shapes play a roll in how people feel hot and cold, maybe even more than the amount of melonin in skin. Basically, the longer the limbs, the further blood must travel from the heart, and more area to get cold. Also, more surface area of skin means more area to sweat and evaporate in hot climates, which keeps one cooler in hot climates. Shorter limbs means less surface area and less distance for warm blood to travel, as well as less surface area to sweat and cool the body in hot climates.

What I can not figure out is why black women I've known (including my wife) can take piping hot showers while my white skin feels like it's going to melt off.

Steve L said...

The chemistry in African skin is different from the chemistry in European skin. Europe is cold. Africa is hot. European skin is designed to hold heat in. African skin is designed to release heat. Also, the heavier you are the hotter you feel and men feel hotter than women. A thin black woman will feel cold unless the room is 80 degrees. A fat white mail will sweat if it's anything over 70 degrees.

Where I work, the thin black women all have space heaters under their desks. Sometimes it is so uncomfortable to be near them, I stand five feet from their desks when I talk to them due to the heat. At my desk (I'm a husky white male), I have a fan blowing on me. Feels like heaven!

Anonymous said...

"Just because the sun is out doesn't make it warm!!" - and that is completely wrong.

Allow me to explain: It's because of one of the biggest differences that people perceive in all of the ethnicities: the skin.

The difference between the skin of white people and that of most other ethnicities is that the top layer of our skin is actually transparent, followed by white skin, which is the skin you see. This transparent layer traps sunlight and helps the body warm. This mainly because of the cold European winters.

Meanwhile most of the rest of the world's population lives in areas where it's not so cold, and in many places there is no winter. Because of that the people there are generally tan of dark skinned, therefore they are better able to protect against the sun.

Being white, sunlight makes all the difference to me. If a day is cold but sunny, and I stand still enough to not let any cold air hit me, it can actually get pretty hot.

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