Guardian Articles 2010
Shazia Mirza's Weekend Column
05 June 2010The other night, I was invited to dinner at a film producer's home in Hollywood. I always feel uncomfortable having dinner at other people's and sitting around a table in that "family" environment. I always pick my nose at the wrong moment and end up accidentally kicking someone important under the table. The reason I feel awkward is because when I grew up, our family never sat together at a table and had dinner.
I was doing well this time, though: I said all the right things, laughed in all the right places. Then the producer said, "Shazia, I hope you don't mind, but we'd love you to watch Miss USA with us. We know it's tacky, but we love Donald Trump [the organiser] and this year there's a brown woman in it."
I didn't know what to say, got all nervous and lost my way. I said, "How brown is she?"
He looked at me strangely and said, "Proper brown, just like you."
We all had to sit round the TV. I could see him looking at me from the corner of his eye. I was looking at him from the corner of mine. And his wife was looking at the pair of us. It was like watching a dirty movie with my parents.
I really enjoyed the family atmosphere. Then, when the brown woman won, I had to pretend I cared and we all had to celebrate. "Have some more chicken wings," he said. "Y'all want some ice-cream sundaes with marshmallow?" asked his wife.
They stuffed me to death. It was like a bad Christmas at my parents'.