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"so, what country are you from?"

i'm accustomed to getting things like what's your background, where are your parents from, what's your ethnicity. it was the abruptness and particular wording that threw me off today. we stepped onto the elevator and the door was barely shut before the 50-or-60-ish woman asked. and the casualness was disconcerting, as if, clearly, i must get this question all day long. do i look that different? interesting.

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 12:07PM by Registered Commentermdog | Comments21 Comments

Reader Comments (21)

Yea, I always did think you were weird. I never thought it was because you were one of them "fere-ners."

And your response?

"Ah, I'm from...uh...Northern Ohio."

Jan 30, 2007 at 02:03PM | Unregistered Commenterpaul

Well, that IS another country. Funnier if you had said, with genuine earnestness, "Oh no, I'm from the CITY."

Jan 30, 2007 at 04:06PM | Unregistered CommenterSarah

sarah does have a point on northern ohio being a different country.

alternate response: "so, where did you learn your social skills?"

Jan 30, 2007 at 04:25PM | Registered Commentermdog

not the usual what planet are you from... no wonder you were confused.

Jan 30, 2007 at 04:31PM | Unregistered Commentervelk

everyone's a comedian..

Jan 31, 2007 at 08:38AM | Registered Commentermdog

It's not like you're the only person in Ohio who looks ethnic in some way. This woman was clearly an ass clown who doesn't mingle in polite society often enough.

Jan 31, 2007 at 09:10AM | Unregistered CommenterTB

you do look that different, though. embrace it!

Jan 31, 2007 at 10:45AM | Unregistered Commenterrachel

Next time this question is asked, consider the following responses, in charicaturesque accents:

[loudly, bowing excessively, and tugging the corners of your eyes] "I flom China! I heah onry foh sree day!"

[quietly, with tears] "I...I've never known my parents. I was raised by a flock of pigeons in Cleveland..."

[gruffly]"You fuggin nuts? I is from dis country, and I should gut ya mutha fuh givin birth ta such a balloon-headed clown!"

Jan 31, 2007 at 04:03PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick


i should have made up a country.

Jan 31, 2007 at 04:13PM | Registered Commentermdog

like Elbonia.

Jan 31, 2007 at 04:33PM | Unregistered Commenterjared

>alternate response: "so, where did you learn your social skills?"


i, too, like elbonia. lol

Jan 31, 2007 at 05:58PM | Unregistered Commenteramo

so, what did you say?

Jan 31, 2007 at 06:12PM | Unregistered Commenterkt

There's a lot of dumb people in the world.

Jan 31, 2007 at 06:27PM | Unregistered Commenterrachel mcH

ah, kt, always the practical one.

i lied to her. just kidding. i told her my mom is from the philippines. she pressed onward. "and your dad...?" lady, what do you think? if it was remotely interesting i would have mentioned that, too. i inwardly rolled my eyes, and outwardly shrugged and said, "ohio".


Jan 31, 2007 at 09:52PM | Registered Commentermdog

I once read a great book review on the Philippines. I know the country well!

Feb 1, 2007 at 04:29PM | Unregistered CommenterJim

people love exoticism. I am one of those people.

Feb 1, 2007 at 05:37PM | Unregistered Commenterrachel

Mdog, it never occurred to me that you might be from another country, or that your parents might be either. I remember being somewhat surprised to learn (when someone mentioned just in passing) that you had a parent from the Philippines. Not shocked or anything, just "oh, I didn't guess that". So you apparently don't look exotic to everyone. Sorry to break the news you. ;-)

Here's another example of a Midwesterner being mistaken for a foreigner: when I was in grad school, there was a student named Brian who sounded a bit like he had a British accent. After a while you might notice it wasn't exactly British, but not exactly anything else either.

As it turns out, he was from a little town in Ohio, as were his parents. I had no idea why he sounded "foreign", but thought he might have picked up the accent from school or from spending a term abroad or something. I didn't ask.

One of my professors DID ask him where he was from, convinced his accent was British. So when Brian said he was from Shade, Ohio or whatever, the professor said, "no, where are you from originally?" Brian was completely confused. The professor was confused about his confusion. It wasn't until the professor understood that Brian and his parents were all natives of the Midwest that he stopped questioning him.

I'm not sure if Brian really understoon WHY he was being questioned like a foreigner--I doubt he recognized that he seemed to talk with an accent.

One of my fellow grad students later postulated that Brian's jaw was a bit off (severe underbite) and that was what caused him to sound as if he had an accent. Who knows. I never asked. It's hard to bring off "why do you talk funny?" politely.

Feb 2, 2007 at 09:50AM | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

One thing I love about living in the So Cal area is our amazing ethnic diversity. So amazing that it isn't much of an issue. The guy I sit next to speaks Tagalog all day long. The woman behind me switches between Romanian, Armenian and English. And Spanish - fuhgeddaboudit.

I practice a don't ask, don't tell policy. On forms, I always claim to be "Other" or "Mixed." I figure it is none of anyone's business anyway.

PS - You look just plain Lucida to me.

Feb 2, 2007 at 06:15PM | Unregistered CommenterSuebob

Oh my goodness. Mdog, I am usually able to just lurk quietly, but this whole string of comments just has me hooting. Please tell me what an ass clown is!

Feb 6, 2007 at 03:32PM | Unregistered CommenterMissMary
Feb 6, 2007 at 03:43PM | Registered Commentermdog


Oh my! :o

Feb 6, 2007 at 06:36PM | Unregistered CommenterMissMary

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