Print Issue Feature: Divya Victor’s “This Whiteness is Bob Saget”

Divya Victor, Bob Saget

Divya Victor, an AWT contributing poet to the Play issue, fittingly wrote “This Whiteness is Bob Saget” on a dare. It rose from a conversation about racial fetishes and sexual identification, eventually becoming part of a series that explored the question, can whiteness be exotic?

Of course it can, Divya says.

Born in India and raised in Singapore from age 11 before moving to the States at 18, Divya grew up watching America’s Funniest Home Videos with fascination. “It offered me a version of ‘America’ which has been way more accurate than any Bay Watch/Bold and Beautiful episode of that same era,” she says. “As an Indian kid, I could get behind the crashes way more than the titjobs and incestuous love affairs.” Tied to that allure was the wholly alien version of masculinity that Saget represented.

Unlike some poets, Divya doesn’t use her writing as a way of exploring her feelings or documenting poignant moments. Instead, she thinks of each poem as an active “laboratory of unpredictable reactions”—a way to test limits of morals, politics and emotions. In addition to playfully plumbing the fantasy of TV-stylized “America,” a place and time as immediate as they were chimerical, “This Whiteness is Bob Saget” is a direct response to an unexpected object of desire. “There is a lot of direct address to the viewers at home in the show—so this was my very belated way of sending in a video (self surveillance/confessional) directly back to Bob.”

This Whiteness is Bob Saget
By Divya Victor

I fell in love with Bob Saget the same week I decided to trim my eyelashes. If you cut hair it grows back thicker. If you cut your mouth trying to kiss the TV your shame grows back thicker. Bob, you were a whiteness returning home to Honey, your wife. All of America was yours, Bob. In your smart navy blazers and neutral ties you were like a man in a smart navy blazer wearing a neutral tie. You were as opaque as flannel. There was no entering you. I had no option but to eat you whole. You were a Christmas special all year round

And what do you want, young lady?

A Cat because it’s soft

Oh, how about a bath mat, that’s soft

HA HA
Oh, Bob

And here’s another young lady. Turn around so everyone can see how pretty you are! And now what would you like?

A Baby.

I don’t think I can help you with that. But we’ll see what we can do.

Bob, you’re killing me!

Thank you. You may sit down please.

Divya. Divya, you’re kissing the TV again.

I would watch you. I would watch you at dinner and I would soak my poppadums in the yogurt until they were paler versions of the soft supple brown things my sharp brown angles could never imagine: cheerleader buns, dinner buns, doughnut crèmes, the mound of a turkey tanning in thanks, Michael Jordon’s glossy printed calves in a grown man’s bedroom, the slow motion slump of a hammock soft with a fat so and so. And then I would rip it apart, weeping in curd, and watch how easily things broke on screen: kayaks into caravans, kids into cots, yards of crisp wrapping paper shredded by tall six year olds in socks, blondes named Kevin or Kyle—small boy-birds running screaming from slushy dogs, a drain pipe weighed by a Wyoming winter claiming a puff ball beanie. And then I would eat you. I would eat you and wash you down with the grainy time-stamps on the VHS tapes they all sent for your love. Bob, I thought you made these things happen—the brightest front rows of enameled teeth on the wide-mouths in the front row, this laughter—this, and the short queue of sleepy hatted black dominoes crashing down on the church pew. The red, white and blue, oh the funniest thing you do, America, America, I want you.

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