Episode 7: Please Don't Hate Me

CHRISTOPHER RIVAS: How do we know each other? 

CRISTINA SCHULMAN: Oh, we go way back. We met at my apartment in Hollywood. And I came home and you were there and we met and I gave you a tarot reading when we first met. 

CHRIS: Mm-Hmm. Mm-Hmm. And a savasana massage (fade under)

CRISTINA SCHULMAN: That wasn’t the first time…

CHRIS: I’m sitting in a podcast studio across from Cristina Schulman. She’s super smart, a great artist. She’s led some of the best yoga classes I’ve ever taken. She’s white. She’s got blond hair. And she’s my ex-girlfriend. She was roommates with one of my BFFs from High School and we started dating around 2015/2016, right in the middle of my Rubirosa obsession.  

CHRIS: Do you remember me talking about him? 

CRISTINA: Yeah, I remember you idolizing him. He was your hero.

CHRIS: In which way? 

CRISTINA: Ah, in his badassery and I dunno, you were just enamored. You did talk about – this was something that maybe was a red flag – you talked about how he got all the women. I remember you talking about that quite a bit like, “and such a ladies man.”

CHRIS: Hey y’all ⁠— don’t judge me too hard. I was in my twenties. And Rubi is a ladies man. Cristina and I dated for about a year. And then, we broke up. Actually, I was the one who initiated the break-up. I had been going through one of those growing phases. You know the kind. Stuff is building inside you really slowly, so slowly you don’t realize it. Till one day you wake up and turn to the woman next to you and think, “Damn. We gotta break up.”

CRISTINA: I did not see it coming. It was the whole. It's not you. It's me, which I guess is true. But it was a, “It's not you it's me” type of, “I have to go figure myself out.”

CHRIS: Which is, I mean. True. 

CRISTINA: True. It's just not fully true.  

CHRIS: After we split, I started to think through my feelings. So I started writing. It helped me to get all my thoughts out on the page. Always has. 

CRISTINA: And then a year had passed. And in that time, you and I had managed to become really good friends, which I love, which is great. And then you told me that you have something in the works for Modern Love. 

CHRIS: You know, Modern Love, right? The New York Times column about love and relationships. It’s also a TV show now. All that writing turned into an essay about this breakup. And the New York Times, they liked it. 

CRISTINA: I think the day before it came out, you said, “just so you know, you might not love it, so you might not love the title. Just so you know, there's some stuff that might be sensitive or triggering.” I can't remember what you said, but something along those lines. And I was like, “OK, cool.”

CHRIS: The next day the essay came out. Its title?  “I Broke Up With Her Because She’s White” 

CRISTINA: When I saw that I was. Shocked, I guess is the right word. Yeah, it was shocking. It was a shocking title, but I guess that's what they were going for. 

CHRIS: OK I have to jump in here and say that I really wanted the title to be “Please Don’t Hate Me For Dating White Women.” Because the article was about a lot more than just my relationship with Cristina… But, fun fact: in publishing, the writer doesn’t always get to pick the title.

So Yeah, I mean, it was click bait. And it worked…. It kinda went viral. 

CHRIS: What do you think about the article? 

CRISTINA: Oh boy, what did I think about it? Uhh, I – I just I mean, it just sounded just like a confused man. I did – it felt – it was a little hurtful to me because it felt like it lessened what our feelings were for each other, like it made it more about this one thing rather than, I don't know, us actually being people who cared about each other. 

CHRIS: Here’s the first line of the essay: “O.K., let me just get to it. I think I broke up with my last girlfriend because she’s white. Actually, no, I definitely broke up with her because she’s white.” 

But in the next 1500 words, I look back at a number of my relationships and experiences with white women. From my youth up through the time I wrote the piece. I talk about wokeness and self loathing and the pressure I’ve always felt from other people to pick the right partner. And to get  the right person to pick me. 

CRISTINA: Yeah, it just sounded like a confused guy who was trying to say the right things or be a certain way for people, and so and that's not you. It felt kind of like untruthful. 

CHRIS: Mm-Hmm. 

CRISTINA: For me, I thought it came off racially insensitive. And I think other people share that feeling with me. Um, immature.  

CHRIS: What was immature about it? 

CRISTINA: Caring about what other people think or want from you rather than being a grown ass man and doing what you want. I feel like there wasn't enough care around how I felt about it 

CHRIS: I get that. OK. I also, you know, you said like a confused person who cares what other people think…. I think I created this person who is exploring a big idea. You know, race, dating, the idea of wokeness. So I think that confusion, if it's what you felt, you know, like, I would say, and maybe you disagree, but that's probably a true thing about Chris, like a true thing you probably know about me. I am often asking a lot of questions.

CRISTINA: I don't know, it feels, if feels a little off or icky to me, for lack of a better word, it just gives me that feeling of I don't like it in that context. \But I think you should be asking questions. Yes, and I think that you should really try to figure out why you're motivated to do certain things. 

[Music enters.]

Why am I motivated to do certain things? In the end, that IS what I was trying to do in that essay. Cristina said I sounded confused. Well, she’s right, I was. I often am. But I’m good with expressing that confusion, publicly even, if it’ll help me figure out why I’m motivated to do certain things. To find out my why

It’s what I’m trying to do now ⁠— still. Ask questions. Ask myself why I’m so enamored with Rubi even though he did things I think are sad and wrong. Ask myself why I have made certain choices in my own life ⁠— choices that sometimes look a lot like his.

Like dating white women. Like changing my body. 

Rubi set me on this journey… and now I’m here asking. Talking. Not just to myself but to some important folks in my life. 

CHRIS: OK, how do you two feel about my love life?


MARTHA RIVAS (CHRIS’S MOM): I got a lot to say, go ahead William!

[Theme music enters.]

Check it out⁠—I’m Christopher Rivas and this is Rubirosa episode 7… Please Don’t Hate Me. 

[Music fades]

SPEAKER 1: You are what is wrong with the world…

SPEAKER 2: Bottom line dude..Marry who the F.. YOU want to marry…

SPEAKER 3: Sigh.....I totally get it. Especially the "pick a side" comment….

CHRIS: When Modern Love published my essay… a lot of people noticed. I was interviewed about it. Websites re-published it. There were reddit threads and twitter threads. A white supremacist youtuber did a video about it ⁠— a video watched over 30,000 times.  

My editors had warned me… you’re gonna hear everything Chris. Marriage proposals and fury. People will love you. People will hate you. 

And that’s exactly what happened. 

SPEAKER 1: It’s people like you who divide this nation. Please stop. 

CHRIS: These are real quotes from real emails!! 

SPEAKER 4: You my friend, are experiencing true enlightenment of how….Americans being sold a bill of goods from the ruling class to divide and conquer us 

SPEAKER 5: just do you Chris....and when you find that right person to build your life with, who cares if they’re black, brown...white, yellow, heck purple 

SPEAKER 6: Even though my identity and circumstances are very different from your own, I relate to the theme that navigating racial realities in dating is a charged, confusing, divisive, and pressurized experience. 

SPEAKER 7: you need to have the constitution to stand up to the blatant racism and prejudice, even if it's from your own family.

CHRIS: The responses just kept on coming, week after week. And a couple months into this, I got a DM on Instagram. It was from someone named Grasie Mercedes. She said she got it, that she was swimming in the same confusion. Literally ⁠— Grasie is a Dominican actor, raised in New York who now lives in LA, like me. And she had recently split up with her partner of 14 years. So I asked her to come to the studio and tell me about her own experience having a white partner.

CHRIS: So we met after you read my modern love column.


CHRIS: And you read that while you were married to a white man?

GRASIE: Yes. I mean, uh, we were already separated when I read that. I am technically still married, we haven't filed the paperwork yet, but we are separated. We are great friends still. I want to preface that before I get into this. But yes, he is white. We were together for almost 14 years, married for eight, and I just related to a lot of what you said in that article. 

I'm not going to say that we broke up because he's white. But, you know, there were definitely things that came up in our relationship that made me be like, Oh, yeah, he's white.  And like there was definitely a disconnect that I felt in our relationship that was definitely heightened during, you know, Black Lives Matter stuff and just the craziness of the world over the last couple of years. It was also a thought when I was thinking about, like my upbringing and what I was taught and what I was fed and what was modeled for me. You know, it was that white is better and that marrying white is better and that, you know, that is the truth. He was a trophy husband, in a sense, because, you know, my grandmother spent her whole life, like telling me not to date Black guys and not to date Dominican guys. 

CHRIS: There’s that colorism y’all. Have we talked about the paper bag test, yet? Starting in the 20th century, Black people whose skin was lighter than a paper bag got special treatment – and everyone who didn’t pass the test got left behind. I have friends whose family members have said to them, don't you bring home no one darker than this paper bag, you hear?

I didn’t hear that growing up. But I did hear about “mejorando la raza” … “bettering the race.” I can remember my grandmother and other grandmothers and mothers saying: “Don’t date someone darker than you. Don’t date coarse hair, big lips and big noses.” I once brought home a Black girl in high school and my aunt angrily mumbled from the kitchen , “Ay, do you see him and that Negrita?” 

I wish I had said something to my aunt. Told her to shut up, to look in the mirror, to look at a family album, Reminded her that we too are Black. That the DR and Colombia were built by African slaves. Wish I’d shown her the hypocrisy. But I didn’t. 

GRASIE: So it's kind of crazy to have, you know, my grandmother who is fair skinned with straight hair. Dating Black men. Telling you not to date Black men. And telling you, you know, to straighten your hair every week and telling you, just not be in the sun all the time and things like that. 

CHRIS: I mean, your grandmother has biases she doesn't even know, 

GRASIE: Exactly.

CHRIS: When she does the things she tells you not to do. 

GRASIE: Exactly.

CHRIS: We all have biases we don't even know we have.

GRASIE: Exactly.

CHRIS:  They're not microaggressions, they're just the water we're swimming in. 

GRASIE: Totally. 

CHRIS: But it’s not just our Dominican, Latino families. All families instill values into their kids. And when you're like me and Grasie and you date a white person… you suddenly have to deal with all the unconscious biases they bring into the room.

GRASIE: I mean, he himself is a very liberal, progressive, fantastic white man. But, you know, how do I put this? Even the most progressive white families have biases that they may or may not realize they have. 

CHRIS: I know what Grasie means. Whenever I was in relationships with white people, I was also in relationships with their families. On one visit to a girlfriend’s hometown, I was the only person of color in what felt like miles. Her parents acted like they didn’t even notice. I dated another white woman for more than six months and even still, her parents kept thinking I was from Puerto Rico. I’ve never even been to Puerto Rico. (Big ups Puerto Rico, I’m coming one day.)

Then there was the father who opened the door and said, “Sorry, it’s not taco night,” and then closed it in my face, only to open it again because he was “just joking.” I stayed for a mediocre dinner. I wish it were tacos.

[Brief pause.]

CHRIS: My buddy Justin is Black. And his wife is ALSO Black. One time Justin and I were talking about relationships and he told me that there is something about coming home and knowing that his partner knows, she just knows the struggle, the ridiculousness, the beauty and plight of being a body of color… There is no educating. Sometimes, he said, they don’t even have to say anything or talk about it. She just knows. She gets him.

When he said that, it made sense, and I found myself WANTING to feel that kind of peace in a relationship. To be with someone who just gets that part of me, who just knows. Don’t we all? 

Here’s Grasie again: 

GRASIE: I think the more I thought about our relationship and relationships in the past, I realized I am just tired of adjusting who I am to fit certain spaces. You know what I mean? And you do that to make other people feel comfortable, right? Mostly white people to make white people feel comfortable. So the thing of like I no longer wanted to-

CHRIS: Don't we also do it to make ourselves feel comfortable in a weird way? 

GRASIE: Well, I think when I was doing it, I thought, “Oh, I'm just trying to impress my boyfriend's parents,” right? But now in retrospect, I'm like, “Oh, no, I was trying to be more white. I was trying to be less Black. I was trying to be less Dominican.” I was very conscious of, “speak properly, you know, make sure your hair looks, quote unquote like good, like straight and tamed.” I didn't wear my hair curly or natural until about five years ago. So at the time I always had that straight, you know, Dominican blowout going on.

CHRIS: Wow because this hair is good right now. 

GRASIE: Thank you. So, you know, there was that and there was just the hyper awareness of how I behaved, how I spoke, what I spoke about. I always had to prove that I was like, quote unquote, one of the good ones. And that makes me sick, like the thought of that makes me really sick to my stomach and sad. But I did that for a really long time, and I think I was just so used to doing that that I didn't even realize I was doing it. 

GRASIE: As we were splitting up, we split up for other reasons, but I was like, “Oh, why did I seek out a white man? Was it because of these things I was fed my whole life?” 

CHRIS: Here’s another section of the Modern Love essay: 

Am I the problem or is everyone else? Do white women find me attractive or do they see me as some exotic idea they should find attractive? Do I find white women attractive or do I see them as some exotic idea I should find attractive? Do I even know whom I’m attracted to or why?

As I was writing that, I was thinking about all the examples we see of Black and Brown people being chosen ⁠— and saved ⁠— by falling in love with white people. From Save the Last Dance to to La Bamba, The Big Sick, Master Of None, Literally The Great White Hope—where the white woman is the “hope” – the amount of stories that have whispered in my ear, “Chris, successful, happy, Black or Brown guy falls in love with white woman; white woman is his savior.” 

And these stories didn’t just exist in the outside world. I heard ‘em at home too. From my Pops. As a little kid, I used to watch him get ready in the morning. It was a masterclass on preparing your mask. a fresh shave followed by a ton of cologne, because he’s Dominican, yall, he really needed people to know he was entering a room. He’d spend all this time blow drying his hair to get that perfect coif, and then he’d take a black sharpie to any stray grays in his goatee. He took longer to get ready than me, my mother and my sister combined. And whenever I gave him shit about it, he’d always talk about what he saw as a young man in the DR. 

POPS: There are gentlemen right now… 

CHRIS: This is him NOW, saying the same old things. 

POPS: …young men in Dominican Republic that are doing the same thing. They would go to a nearby airport to try to meet someone very beautiful, someone very nice – that has happened already. And I'll tell you that many have married German young ladies who have fallen in love with these guys. And their opportunity to leave that country is that they met a beautiful young girl who's accepted them and said, “You want to come to Germany with me?” “Yes.” Done. And it kind of like in a way is what they're doing is similar to what I consider womanizing. 

MOM: Just look. Just look at “90 Day Fiancee.” You'll find a couple. 

CHRIS: That’s my momma, you remember her & that laugh, yeah?

CHRIS: It's like when I went to Colombia and mom said she said, be careful with the women there. She said they're going to try and be really nice to you. So you bring them home. 

MOM: That’s true. [laughs]

CHRIS: Quick aside: my mom’s Colombian, and she’d love it if I dated a Colombian woman. But even she knew that me being a US citizen might get me some extra attention.

POPS: Were they nice to you? 

CHRIS: I don't know. I don't know now I can't trust anyone. So I don't know, 

MOM: [laughs] I planted the seed of doubt in you, sorry. 

CHRIS: I grew up with jokes like these. Interactions that seemed innocent enough. But over years and years, I absorbed a message about how important it was to be “chosen,” selected. Selected by whom became and remains my dilemma.

I’m still learning how to unlearn it all. 

CHRIS: OK, how do you two feel about my love life?

POPS: Woo! 

MOM: I got a lot to say, go ahead, William. 

POPS: Well. You've gone through a few and it's been very difficult. My your mother actually told me stop falling in love with the girls that he's really dating because you don't know how long it's going to last. And I understand that during your time you're finding yourself and you're finding to find the person that might suit you or be the best for you. But we were always concerned because there are some that we really said, “Please, God, let her not be the one.” [both parents laugh]

CHRIS: Were you surprised that I've dated so many white women? 

MOM: No, I was not surprised that you dated so many white women because I don't know, I mean... I think part of you wanted to have acceptance in the white world and maybe for you that came through dating a white girl, oh, look, a white girl wants me, right? So, you know, I'm good. I'm in. Maybe it was that. 

[Music enters.]

CHRIS: Is this what I was trying to get close to? Acceptance from the white world? I mean, in that case I’m right there with Rubi–I’m trying to get close to power, and to a feeling of worth. This is something that was on my mind when I wrote the essay. Here’s another line: 

“Since I was a child, I’ve internalized the idea that the hand I hold determines my worth more than my own hands. That my power is only as valuable as the person by my side. A whole system is coded within me. Why wasn’t self-worth coded within me?”

For the record, I could have been more specific in the essay, because I do actually think SOME self-worth was instilled in me. I mean, I have awesome parents and they definitely embrace me for who I am. But there’s something that happens when a Brown body walks out the door, faces the world. Something that can erode the sense of worth you feel at home. There’s something about all those other voices out there telling you and showing you that you aren’t enough that starts seeping in. 

[Street noises fade up.]

CHRIS: [Deep breath, exhale.] So now, we gotta go back to where it all started…waaaay back…to Chris Rivas, that awkward beautiful kid in Queens. 

[Music, street noises fade to silence.]



[Street noises fade back up.]

CHRIS: It’s the year 2000. Queens, New York. I’m 12 years old. My favorite songs at Bar Mitzvahs are Shake Ya Ass… 

EXCERPT FROM “SHAKE YA ASS” BY MYSTIKAL: Shake ya ass, watch yourself…

CHRIS: …and Bye Bye Bye… 


CHRIS: I wear a lot of polos and I have really, really curly hair. Ringlet type curls. I hate my hair. And I don’t like the color of my skin. In part because all the heroes I have on my TV are white with straight hair. 

I hate that I don’t look like the boys on Dawson’s Creek. None of the girls even notice me. Plus, I’m short, y’all. I’ve got a pituitary gland disorder and eventually I’ll catch up. But for now, I’m 4 foot 10. I just feel alone and unseen. Wading through a sea of shame and discomfort. 

[Piano music enters.]

CHRIS: Like with my nose. My abuelita is always telling me to pinch my nose between my forefinger and thumb, pinch and pull forward. To keep it thin.

Or she tells my Pops to make me sleep with a clothespin on my nose, like they do it back in el campo... Can you imagine what that would feel like? 

In her exact words, “big noses don’t get very far.” She wants me to have a chance in a world that wasn't made for noses like ours; and whatever I can do to help and give me a shot to play the game, I should do it.  

And so, every night, I pinch. And every day I squeeze my nose between my fingers and thumb, and pull forward. I don’t know if it does  a damn thing, but I do  it. I do  it because I’m a kid, and I don’t think I have another option. 

[Drums enter, street noises fade down.]

CHRIS: Fast forward. It's 2014. I'm 26.  I'm living my dream, I'm a young actor in Hollywood. But still, I keep getting these messages about the way I look. My agents make suggestions, nudge me to rein in my curly hair. “Keep it short,” they say. “keep it straight.” So I do that. I get a crew cut, nice and short. A haircut is no big deal. 

Then they start talking about my nose. Suggesting that I think about a nose job. It might help further my career, they say. 

And that 12 year old kid still lives inside of me. So when they tell me this, I think about my grandma, think about the things she told me, and it makes sense. It makes sense to change my body so that I can get cast. So that I can be seen. So I can be chosen. I tell my parents it’s something I want to do, and they’re supportive. They don’t say, no. No, Chris, don't do this. No, Chris, you don’t need to change yourself. They don’t really say anything.

So – and no one really knows this – I get a nose job. 

[Music fades down.]

CHRIS: How do you two feel about my nose job, the before and after? Did it work? 

[Awkward pause.]

POPS: That's a ⁠— what kind of question is that? 

MOM: Do you want to answer it? OK, right.

POPS: That's another thing. I don't even know whether your nose was bad or good. I I don't really pay too much attention to that. You're the one that needed some satisfaction to yourself, and that's what's the most important thing. To me, I love you for who you are. And I could see you for who you are. That's it. 

MOM: I mean, I also never saw it as a hindrance for you, but you saw it as a hindrance for yourself. So do I think it made a difference? I think it made a difference maybe in your own self-confidence and how maybe you see yourself. But I don't think it made a difference as to who you are as a person. 

POPS: I thought the nose job was because you couldn't breathe.

MOM: That was the lie behind the nose job. Just kidding. 

CHRIS: I don’t know if I would do something like this again – I’m not a 26 year old trying to break into Hollywood anymore. Then again, it is easy to say what you wouldn’t do, after you did it. 

But I don’t fault myself for making the decisions I did. I was willing to go along with it because I thought it’d help me find work as an actor. And I gotta say, I think it did. I started booking more gigs immediately.

Kind of like how Rubi changed himself to fit into the 1940s Glitterati of Europe.  And it wasn’t just changing the way he acted, or talked. Rubi changed his natural features, just like I did. Check out what Rubi’s old friend Taki Theodoracopulos told me:

​​TAKI THEODORACOPULOS: I once walked into his bathroom and he was naked and he was fixing his hair, and he had one of those things that straightens hair. Enormous machine. And I started laughing. He sort of tried to kick me and threw me out of the bathroom when he was straightening his hair because they're very curly hair. But, you know, we made fun of him having Black blood all the time and we'd laugh. 

CHRIS: Black blood, Jesus christ. Who says that? And who laughs about it with friends? It’s fucked up. I imagine that only made Rubi want to change his appearance even more. 

This image of Rubi getting ready, it reminds me of something else: my pops getting ready in the morning, putting a Sharpie to his goatee, making sure every hair is impeccable. Those young men at the airport, hoping one of those European women would choose them. 

But Rubi didn’t just straighten his hair. Y’all listen to this: He got a nose job back in the 1940s. 

This is crazy to me. This was basically the beginning of facial reconstruction surgery as we know it. Most people getting nose jobs back then were victims of World War I. But Rubi? He wasn’t a casualty of anything but the white gaze. 

One more insecurity of Rubi’s was his skin color. He was concerned about getting too dark…  He was the only polo player covered in scarves in the blistering heat. 

Here’s Taki again–and you’ll hear my producer Abigail.

TAKI: His features, were sort of the words "negro blood" in there because, you know, Santo Domingo, all that. But he was very good looking. But those features were because, you know, people that didn't like him would obviously use the N-word behind his back, not in front of him. 

ABIGAIL: And were there many other people in your group of friends that were not white?

TAKI: No, no, no. He was the only one, you know, it was an all white group, but I didn't know any Black people. 

ABIGAIL: Do you think he ever felt uncomfortable or was he ever excluded? 

TAKI: No no no no, no, no. Rubi was very, too self-confident to feel uncomfortable anyway. And he knew how much all his friends loved him. You know, he was sensitive and he knew a lot. No, this is new American developed crap recently. We didn't have all those things back then, 

CHRIS: Rubi ⁠—is this really true? Did you feel truly loved? Or did you wince when they talked about your Black blood or your curly hair? Would you scoff at the “American crap” of nowadays… the wokeness? Or was your self confidence a mask… like mine sometimes is? 

And if you were alive today, you’d see what I see ⁠— that the world still has an obsession with things being lighter. 

Skin lightening products are estimated to be an 8 BILLION dollar industry. I mean, just watch a ‘novela or a Bollywood film. Or go to Ghana where you can see ads for skin-whitening products on your way to work. Or go to the Walgreens across the street, where, right now, we could all grab some skin-whitening cream off the shelf. Some of it’s for your hands, some of it’s for your face, some of it’s for, you know, stuff below the belt. It’s a thing. Google it.

So Rubi , did you lighten your skin, too? Did you powder your face, or use some chemical cream? I don’t know for sure. But it’s not inconceivable. 

MOM: Skin whitening, I don't know. I think for anyone, not just Rubirosa, I think that's sad. 

POPS: Look, it's different times and honestly. Maybe that's what he needed to do in order to get closer. 

CHRIS & MOM IN UNISON: Closer to what?

POPS: Closer to a better life, closer to people where he could be surrounded and not be, you know, they can point him and say, oh, look at this person. The truth is, if you're doing that, there's a reason for it, you know? 

CHRIS: There’s this book I love. It’s a novel called Shantaram, by a writer named Gregory David Roberts. And there’s this line in the book that sticks with me. “Sooner or later, fate puts us together with all the people, one by one, who show us what we could, and shouldn’t, let ourselves become.”

This is how I feel about Rubi. Fate brought me to him to show me both what I could and shouldn’t let myself become. I’ve spent so many years finding the similarities between Rubi and I ⁠— and there are so many. 

But here’s one major difference: I don’t have the same fear that I think Rubi had. The same desperation to be seen that drove him to heartbreak. To destruction. He didn’t have anyone telling him to be himself. And he didn’t give himself that permission.  

Here’s Taki again, talking about this side of Rubi. 

TAKI: He controlled his temper. He didn't have what people thought of as South American temper. 

CHRIS: Quick fact check: The DR’s in the Caribbean, not South America. But this “South American temper,” that comes from having “Black blood” as Taki would call it, is the stereotype that Rubi faced daily. 

CHRIS: Did you ever see him lose his cool?

TAKI: No, no, no, noo much. Yeah, now that you mention it. I never saw him get out. He was famous – I mean, if somebody threw a punch he could do a parrot immediately or hit back. But I never saw him lose his cool.

CHRIS: He never lost his cool. At least not in front of Taki. Which makes sense: He had an image to protect. He needed to seem non-threatening, so that everyone would still see him as worthy of hanging out with politicians, movie stars and heiresses. What must that do to a person over the years?

It makes me think of the song Rubi sang for everyone… I’m just a gigolo … “I ain’t got no body / I’m so sad and lonely”....

[Piano enters, playing free chords.]

CHRIS: When I found out about Rubi straightening his hair and hiding his skin and changing his nose, I didn’t find solace. I was sad. I am sad. That to this day, in the shower, before a meeting, before an audition, before a date, on my way here, today, even AFTER a nose job, I still grab my nose between my index and thumb and I pinch and pull forward. 

But thanks to Rubi, I’m aware of why. And I am writing about dating white women in the paper of record. I am sitting down for conversations with my exes and my parents. I’m voicing my confusion. And asking my questions. And it’s not always easy. It’s awkward sometimes. For me, and for the people I ask. 

There’s another quote I think about a lot. It’s from Alan Watts. It’s actually kinda academic but the gist of it is: a persistent problem is a proper question not yet asked. 

So I will keep asking my questions and living my way into answers. And I’ll be grateful that unlike Rubi I don’t have to keep it all hidden. 

CHRIS: Next time… I start to tell Rubi’s story to other people. And they start to tell me their own stories right back. 

[Different music enters, with electric piano, drums, and bass.]

DANIEL BANKS: I mean, every time I have to fill out a census form don't always work for people like you and me, right? So that's what what drew me into it was it was personal.

CHRIS: Stick around….