I love making new friends at bars. It yields some of the most interesting conversations and often ridiculous questions. This past weekend did not disappoint.
It started off innocently enough – a guy came over to our table to borrow a light and then started chatting. We all talked sports and DC living; he told us about his upcoming wedding. And then he asked me:
“Can I ask you a question? I’m not sure if I’m really allowed to say this, I don’t know if it’s okay, but what ethnicity are you?”
I have to kind of admire his boldness (read: drunkenness), as I’ve occasionally wanted to ask the same question, but never dared. But it’s more the fact that he asked me. I laughed at the question and before I could even respond, one of the friends I was with told him that I was “white as white could be, the epitome of Caucasian.”
So he explained. “I’m sorry, I just asked because, well, and I’m still not sure if this is all right to say, but, I mean, it’s your eyes. They look a little Asian. Are you Asian at all?”
Really? Not that I’d mind, actually, I think it’d be pretty cool, but it’s still not something I hear every day. He assured me that I did, in fact, have great eyes, he was just curious. In the meantime, his fiancee was standing there shaking her head and apologizing to me. And she apologized even more profusely when his friends all came out on to the patio (at his urging), and started whispering, “Is that the one? Is she really Asian?“
If I had a better poker face, I may have tried to play along and tell them that yes, actually, my grandmother was Asian, and wow, you’re very observant and usually nobody picks up on that.
But even as I thought about it, I knew I couldn’t lie without laughing.
Maybe, though, I’ll work on my story and my poker face. You know, for next time.