Monday, December 1, 2008

Didn't your mother tell you it's not polite to stare?

I'm sitting in a deli killing time before my next meeting. Basically, I came here because I needed a place where I could do some writing--where I could plug in my laptop computer because the charge on my battery holds for only about half an hour.

And what I noticed in this deli, which I've never patroned before, is that

A) People have been staring at me. Not quite outright--I catch them glancing my way, and when I stare back they quickly avert their eyes. But then I catch them looking at me again.

B) I am the only non-white person in this deli--there are about half a dozen customers and three people behind the counter.

Which leaves me wondering if

a) I have something on my forehead--like a "Please stare at me!" sign? I took a shower this morning and washed and brushed my hair, so I don't think I look like a monster...

b) I look like someone famous. But how many famous Asian/Asian American women could I possibly look like? And no, I don't look ANYTHING like Lucy Liu or Lisa Ling or Michelle Yeoh. And would these even be household names?

c) People have never seen an Asian American person live and in the flesh

d) All these deli patrons and deli employees are secretly aliens from another dimension who are wondering if I've caught onto their scheme to replace all the fat free foods in the world with transfatty, cholesterol clogging replicas.

Any thoughts?


CVT said...

If only it was "d" . . . if only it was "d" . . .

Genepool said...

e) Cuz you're soooo good lookin'

Jennifer said...

CVT-yes, if only it were "d"--although better for us not to have clogged arteries.

And Genepool, only you, my friend, would think of an "e" category in which my glamorous good looks were a reason to turn people's heads! You have to remember that I'm not longer that fresh looking high school girl you knew way back when--not to say I have crow's feet but I really *don't* think that people couldn't take their eyes off me in that way.

I do think there might be another reason for the stares, which is that after being there a while I got the sense that the only people who went to this hole-in-the-wall deli were regulars, and as someone who literally walked in for the first time, I think they were surprised. Because no one was hostile and the staring, while obvious, wasn't mean, it was just curious, which I still felt was a bit rude but it wasn't intimidating, if that makes sense.

MilesPerHour said...

I think that's wild that you were stared at. I am six foot six with spiked hair earrings and tattoos and I don't even get stared at much. Sometimes it happens though. Just stick out your tongue - lol.

Jennifer said...

It is funny--I have found that I have been stared at more in various places in "the South" than I have anywhere else in this country (I've lived for extended periods of time in NYC, MA, and CA).

It's not my college town or the surrounding area--but definitely in the mountains and definitely when I've gone to South Carolina & West Virginia and Tennessee. I just assume that most of the time it's that people haven't seen someone who is Asian so they are curious. I also think in small towns or in places where locals only go, then I stick out doubly because I'm both not from there and that's easy to identify because I'm not white.

But yes, it is funny what people will stare at.