Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No, My Name's Not Sarah

Being adopted from S. Korea as a baby by a caucasian family, only to grow up in a school district where I pretty much represented the minority population, had it's ups and downs. The ups are that I had a family that loved me. The downs...There was a blonde neighbor girl who thought it was funny to call me "Chink" every time she saw me. I hated going to Chinese restaurants because the employees always assumed I was an exchange student, looking for a taste of my native land. Some people were confused by the fact that I didn't love to take pictures, and I frequently amazed strangers with my excellent English. When it was discovered that I was good at math and played piano, it wasn't considered to be shocking news. More than a few people increased the volume and slowed down the pace when they talked to me. Apparently, the "you're a moron" look that I have worked so hard to perfect is not universally understood.

The craziest thing by far, though, has been the phrase "you look just like ____." I have been mistaken for that one person that plays volleyball at Hamline (she might be Asian), one lady's own daughter (I'm not kidding), and countless distant cousins (but it's never my own family member that asks). I've been asked "did you go to high school in ___?" (they never ask Forest Lake) too many times to count, "do you know my mom?" (No), and "did you used to work at TGI Fridays?" (Hell no). One person asked me if my name is Sarah. When I informed him that I was not Sarah, he replied "Are you sure? You look just like Sarah."

Perhaps it's these experiences that make me a little bit jumpy when it comes to strangers making generalizations about my kids. When one individual found out that my boys play piano, she said "Well, of course they would be good at piano. Because, you know..." Since she seemed to be waiting for me to fill in the blank, I offered up "because they have hands?" Instead of taking the hint, this lady kept jamming her foot in her mouth and corrected me by saying "No, because they're Oriental!"

While at a tennis tournament, a boy who obviously considered Hostess as a main food group walked by my 11-year old and said "stupid Chinaboy." Charlie informed me of this incident when he saw the boy waddling back to the concession stand for more sustenance. I know I could have just ignored the name calling, but instead I poked a finger into his doughy shoulder and informed him, very clearly, that he was kind of a creep and that walking around calling other boys such creatively challenged names wasn't really acceptable. Waste of breath? Probably. Gratifying? Definitely.

Numerous people have told me how much they love the Microsoft ads because the little girl working on the computer "looks just like Zoe!" For one thing, I write on a Mac, so I don't pay attention to Microsoft ads. And besides the fact that the person in the tv spot is a girl and has hair, she doesn't look anything like my daughter. Someone could say that she looks just like Venus Williams, and I would actually see the resemblance, since Zoe does have a great forehand.

There's a lot of assumptions that can be made about almost everybody. Belong to a country club? You must be an asshole. Live in a trailer? You have a lot of recipes for Spam. Stay-at-home mom? You must be an alcoholic. Just remember, though; when you assume, you make an ass out of you.

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