Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I am SO going to hell
At least that's what my college roommate used to tell me. And my stock answer to her was, 'but at least I'll have company since all my friends will be there too.' She usually admonished me thusly (can you tell I've been reading regency romances along with all the other stuff?) after I'd participated in some antic either willingly or unwittingly, but usually with an outcome that was unexpected.
My dear friend and neighbor is a lovely Filipina married to a German American man and they're both sweethearts. Very loving, warm and funny people. At this particular friend's home, my kids and I are exposed to and indulge in the wonderful and rich culture that comes from the intermingling of worlds as such. We share many things, from our respective cuisines to experiences in the neighborhood and my youngest son is even adept at understanding a smattering of Tagalog. They both already speak French and Spanish in addition to other languages, so they're way ahead on that front. My girlfriend calls me a Filipino term of endearment that I certainly can't spell but which sounds like 'die-ee' or sometimes 'luon-ga'.
Recently, the husband's mother and aunt, who emigrated from Germany when they were girls in the 1920s, were in town for a visit. My friend is a social creature and anyone arriving is always treated as a revered guest and refreshments and whatever is necessary to make one comfortable is laid out, promptly. When my friend's in-laws arrived I was there visiting and so, fell in step with the rest of the women, bringing out coffee, pastries and such for the mother-in-law and the aunt or 'tanta'.
Now, the two older ladies had been eyeing me all afternoon, not necessarily with any wariness, but with what seemed to be genuine curiosity. They hail from Nebraska and though the population is sure to be small, there must be some people of color to which the ladies might have been exposed. So I can't figure out why they keep staring at me and neither can my friend. It's starting to make the daughter-in-law nervous, but I'm determined that it's nothing and so I grab the coffee and head out to warm up their cups. They both smile at me and strike up a conversation.
"Thank you for pouring the coffee," says the aunt.
"It's no trouble at all. Is there anything else I can get for you?" I smile and hover with the coffee pot as the two clutch their cups and saucers.
"No, thank you dear." I turn with the intention of going back to the kitchen when the mother-in-law reaches out and gently grabs my wrist. She motions for me to lean closer and then says in what was probably suppose to be a stage whisper.
"You're very tall, you know. You must be the tallest Filipina I've ever seen." I straighten up and look to my left at my friend whose eyes have popped wide open. She's wearing a slightly hysterical look, her mouth opened a bit, and I can see the question on her face before it's replaced with a wicked little smile. Now, I do have thick, heavy and dark hair and my complexion is caramel-colored and even. I am indeed tall, almost six feet. But I should never be mistaken for a Filipina. Ever. But, instead of admonishing my friend's mother-in-law, I just smile and lean back down to her.
"Yes, I guess I am." I then escape to the kitchen. It's a good thing that both the aunt and the mother-in-law are a little bit deaf, because we might have scared them with the screams of laughter.