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.
I'm a California girl who wears her heart on her sleeve and always has her head in the clouds. I currently live in the Netherlands and am attending university at a small honors liberal arts college in the south. I have an artist's soul, a corny sense of humor, and a ravenous mind that hunts down the meaning of life everywhere I go. I love traveling, learning, questioning, experiencing, and am an anthropology and political science major who loves to write and make up stories about the absurdity of the world we live in. Like reading my posts? Please follow!