So here is the story:
It was a Saturday night and my wife and I were sitting outside, drinking. We've already had a few drinks and we were talking, listening to music, in a good mood if you will. I see about 5 or 6 houses down from ours (we live in townhouse apartments, so the houses are stacked right next to each other), a couple of guys step outside.
I was feeling confident with the alcohol in my body and wanted to walk down there and talk to these guys. They seemed like they'd had a few drinks themselves and I knew they wouldn't mind me walking up to them and talking to them.
I walk down there, we introduce ourselves, we were just talking. Funny part is, no names were exchanged still. After about 10 minutes of talking, I tell them:
I never caught any of your names, what is your name?
Now of these two guys, one of them was of African-American descent. This is important to this story. This guy of African-American descent, he thinks. He thinks for a about 5 seconds and goes
Umm... Mike. My name is Mike.
I am usually really good at reading body language and facial cues. But this time, I messed up really horribly. From his pause and his "Ummmm", I felt like he was giving me a fake name. I got this really strong feeling that he did not want to give me his real name. It had NOTHING to do with him being African-American or anything, just his body language made me feel so.
The smart, all-knowing me go:
Oh come on man, you don't need to give me a fake name. Assuming I won't be able to pronounce your real name is very offensive. Try me!
Both these guys start laughing hysterically. I just stand there like an idiot, waiting for them to finish. The guy says:
My name really is Mike.
I felt horrible. I did not mean to be racist at all, but it sure did seem like it. I apologized like 10 times but I still felt horrible. I still feel horrible!
What could I have told the guy so he understands, realizes, and believes that I was not trying to be racist?
This is why I feel so bad about it: right after this happened, Mike said he has to go in the house and "grab cigarettes" and walked in. The other guy was still out, but I felt so horrible, I just told them to have a good day and walked away. Neither of them came out after this incident for about 20 minutes; even though they had to come out to smoke their cigarette if it was genuine. So I felt like they did not want to come out because I was sitting in my back yard.
I am in the US, in a "backwards" town in the US, to be specific. Important because a lot of people in this town are kind of racist. I've had racist remarks told to me in this town before. I am an Indian myself. To summarize, I am very confused and I am very ashamed.