So yesterday I went to the Albert Heijn with Marrit after work. I had wanted some ginger and lemons because I’ve been getting the back-to-school-sickies and wanted to make some nice tea to combat it, and was patiently waiting for this tall thin middle-aged man to get out of my way so I could grab some ginger. He was intently contemplating the plantains in front of him, before striking up a conversation with me.
He asked “Do you think you could BBQ these?” (mind you this was in English, because apparently I don’t look Dutch) I was confused, most of the time random strangers don’t ask that specific of a question, but I went with it.
“I’ve no idea. I suppose you could. Why not?” I replied.
“Or how about frying them in a pan?” He prompted.
“Sure why not?” I wasn’t sure what he was trying to get at. Were you genuinely asking me for culinary expertise? Is this some creepy subtle way of trying to keep a conversation with me? Why are you asking me? I just want you to move so I can get my ginger!! Then homie drops the bomb:
“Well, didn’t your parents teach you how to cook with them?” In my head my bitch-face came out, but in real life I probably looked just as confused as I had the entire time.
“Excuse me?” I can’t remember what he said after that, but that’s basically the end of the story.
Now I don’t mean to complain, or chastise people for being ignorant politically incorrect insensitive human beings. I enjoy being politically incorrect, ignorant, and sometimes insensitive. But I guess there’s this thing called being tactfully ignorant, politically incorrect, and or insensitive. It makes sense that you would recognize that I’m not of European decent. Congrats. But to think I am of South American decent means that you obviously don’t know what Latin Americans look like, or perhaps he thought I was Asian. Which I am, so that makes perfect sense. But can we please be tactful about it? To assume that I would know how to cook a plantain because of what I look like is just a bit embarrassing on his end. It’s almost as bad as when my classmates in high school would ask if I was good at math or if my parents made excellent Chinese food.
I get it. How could anyone guess my backstory? It’s pretty bizarre, and I like to make up stories that I was born in a mud puddle next to a rice paddy in the middle of Africa with elephants in the background. How would you know any differently?! But to be a complete stranger and just assume stuff about another person, it’s a bit annoying. Political correctness aside, I don’t like it when people assume stuff about me in general…unless it’s to my advantage. Namely when on the train and pretending to not speak Dutch to avoid awkward situations. I am fully aware of my double standards thank you.
So I just laugh it off, and add it to my collection of odd encounters, obvious stares, and questioning looks. They make for good stories, and allow me to not-so metaphorically point and laugh at other’s.
Like when Eva, Anna, and I were walking Eva’s white Russian poodle Tessa around the lake in the Hungarian countryside two weeks ago. People stared. A 42-year old Hungarian woman, a 20-year old Chinese girl who doesn’t look Chinese, and a 4-year old with a white poodle, how does that work?
Obviously we are a lesbian couple who adopted this little girl and we love poodles. And I was a mail-order bride looking for EU citizenship. Duh.