Monday, August 29, 2005
I went to a birthday party for my friend Veronica on Saturday. Celebrating her 31st birtday, I was the only Chinese or Asian person there so I had to represent. Liz was a little worried that she would be the only white/non Spanish speaker there but it turned out that she wasn't. So after an hour drive in the pouring rain, we made it to the correct address in Alexandria (mapquest worked for once).
As Hispanic people poured in, English conversation slowly trickled to a crawl and soon I was making up subtitles for what people were saying, as I had no clue. Luckily, body language conveys over 60% of a conversation so I was able to figure out more or less what was transpiring. Anyway, the reason for this post is to point out the differences in culture. At one point in the night, when I went to get myself another Corona, a guy pointed to his Corona and said something in gibberish (maybe I was too drunk or something) but because he looked like he knew what he was saying, and maybe he was going to allow me privy to some secret Hispanic beer drinking trick, I asked him to explain. So he lead me into the kitchen, picked up a wedge of lime, held it up to show me and then inserted the lime into the beer. I guess this was the long lost secret unknown to white man.
Now growing up in Hawaii, I have learned much about other cultures and races but before coming to the East Coast, I have had limited contact with the Hispanic culture. Later on in the night, as I was eating spicy chicken (man can they cook a bird), a girl came up to me and asked me where I was from. Because I was born in Wisconsin, I answered her 'Wisconsin.' She looked totally perplexed and at a loss of words. Liz chimed in that I was Chinese and this seemed to clear things up and the girl nodded and smiled. Obviously, Wisconsin was some foreign country or some outer planetary star. Anyway, that was fun to muse. I guess the moral of the story here is when someone asks you where you are from, never respond with 'Wisconsin.'