Thursday, December 15, 2011

Culturally Clueless

Hi, my name is Jody. After being adopted and then spending the first few years of my life in the giant metropolis of Wadena, I grew up in Forest Lake, Minnesota. I like cheeseburgers, Irish pubs, Belgian beer, reubens, some seafood, bacon, pizza and pretty much anything that involves potatoes. I do not like Greek food, uncooked meat, chocolate, large quantities of condiments and anything that involves the cooking terms "reduction" or "foam."

And although, technically speaking, I am from South Korea, I hate - as in loathe, despise, detest, abhor, recoil and run away from - Korean food. (except for maybe those beef things on a stick that are saturated in some sort of super sweet sticky sauce stuff. I mean, I've never actually consumed one, but at least the smell doesn't make me want to hurl.) I also don't speak Korean, don't know the names of any major Korean streets, am not familiar with the type of currency used in the country and couldn't give you the names of any political leaders.

When I see someone sitting near me that I have no idea who they are or where they're from or where they live, I have never ever considered striking up a conversation with the opening line of "So, what is your background? What is your culture? Do you eat the native food? Can you speak the language?" So maybe this may come across as being overly sensitive but seriously, why is it that, in this diverse generation when there are ASIANS EVERYWHERE, some people feel the need to strike up this kind of conversation with me? And why can't they immediately figure out that maybe they should just shut the fuck up and go sit far, far away from me and maybe ask that other dude why he's wearing lederhosen?

I am accustomed to always getting mistaken for someone else (coincidentally, it's always an Asian girl that they swear looks just like me), but there are some times when I kind of get caught off guard. Like when that one dude asked me if my daughter could sing in Chinese, or if my boys are good at math, and hey I MUST know a great recipe for Asian lettuce wraps and, while I was grocery shopping, "do I know where the egg roll wrappers are?" One guy actually said "Hey, let me guess where you're from because I've spent some time overseas and am pretty good at telling you guys apart now. So, hmmm, you're... Japanese!"

Yesterday, though, was one of the most bizarre conversations I've ever had to tolerate and since I admit that I was kind of rude in answering this moron's whole "where are you from" line of questioning, all I can say is... DUDE, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Setting: The health club, where I am trying to get Zoe switched from school clothes/shoes to tennis clothes/shoes in a matter of minutes. Moron piped up when Zoe was sitting on the floor, digging through her tennis bag for her water bottle and shoes.

Moron: I just have to ask, where are you from?
Me: Forest Lake
Moron: No, like, where are you from? Culturally?
Me: Forest Lake, but currently in the suburb of Maple Grove
Moron: No, like, where are you fffrrrruuuuuuum.
Me: (trying not to laugh) Oh you mean where I'm fffrrrruuuuuum. Well, that would be South Korea.
Moron: HAH! I knew it! I knew you weren't Chinese! I knew it was Korean! See, I spent a few years over there, working and such, and I thought you looked like them, and then I saw how your daughter was sitting and that told me that for SURE she was from Korea because that's how little Korean girls sit.
Me: (blink blink blinkety blink) Oh, that's weird. Seriously, super weird. But anyway, Zoe is a halfsie. She's half Korean, but her other half is a mishmash of a bunch of non-Asian countries and a generous sprinkling of geek. But that's neat, that Korean girls sit. On the floor.
Moron: So, can we talk?
Me: Isn't that what we're doing?
Moron: No, I mean, can we talk? In Korean?
Me: You can talk, but if it's okay I'll just reply with things like "Hola, margarita, por favor."
Moron: You don't speak Korean? But you're from Korea?
Me: Well, yeah, but there's this really funky new thing called 'adoption' and stuff, and, um, seriously? Is really happening?
Moron: Do you remember that cool place on the river...
Me: Dude, I know no landmarks. Except the spoon on the cherry sculpture.
Moron: Oh, where's that?
Me: Downtown Minneapolis.
Moron: Oh I see. So what area of South Korea are you from?
Me: That area where they were abandoning babies in the early 70's.
Moron: Hmm, yeah, I wasn't there in the 70's. I was there in the early 90's. For work. I worked there for a few years.
Me: Super neat.
Moron: Yes, it was. I'm so surprised that you don't speak the language. Well, it's been nice talking with you!
Me: Definitely interesting.

I am not shitting you. This conversation is almost word for word. I wish I would've recorded it.


Tennis Pro said...

OMG you've got to be kidding. That moron is more than a moron. In Puerto Rico we would say "Tu eres moron o es que te haces?"

Anonymous said...

So I accidentally stumbled on this blog post and I almost cried laughing my little brother is adopted from India and people thought he should love rice as a baby, ect., ect. Ect. People are funny.