Today, at the little corner store, I survey the calling cards behind the counter and ask the (Indian?) guy to hand me the “el Dominicano feliz” (The Happy Dominican) card.
He slides it over hesitantly.
“You’re Dominican?” I let him go on for another 5 minutes. He has that utter look of disbelief I know well. “No, really? Dominican? Really? You can’t be Dominican.” I have my big ugly gray winter hat on and all he can see is 1/4 of my face, my staid little brown coat from the GAP (three years ago) and my fake cashmere scarf.
“Yes, I’m really, really, really Dominican.”
“But you’re so…” I’m not sure what he says next because he has to repeat it over and over again and I can’t understand it with his accent. I swear he’s saying “WHITE!”
“What? Huh?” I just stare at him blankly. Maybe I’m not hearing him right?
“But you CAN’T be Dominican,” he starts again and then stops. “You’re so QUIET.” He enunciates the last word so I’ll understand. Man has good comic timing.
Not to be outdone, I flash him a Cheshire Cat smile. “Only when I’m buying my calling card to call home.” Cryptic?
He smiles but he’s still shaking his head in his disbelief. “Dominican? Really?”
Aliza Hausman…breaking stereotypes wherever she goes. Especially when she’s too tired to move her mouth.
Update: As I was calling my father and peering at the card, I realized the card is owned by a Jewish-American telephone company! I bought a Jewminicano calling card without knowing it!!!
7 thoughts on “But you’re "too" X to be Dominican”
Aliza, quiet? You? Quiet? Snicker.
Well, my face still hurt from schmoozing at the bris and the dentist's office. 🙂
a likely story….you were probably just having an internal conversation, that's all. we all do it, even i do it, right, yes I do. i would love to get the two of us together in one room, and see who could be quiet the longest. and how long until one of us opened our mouths….
i would never win that contest. my husband asks, “what is it like you have to fill the silences? you can't just sit there and be quiet.” Um, no! This isn't yoga, it's life! 🙂
Aliza, I say that to my kids ALL the time, and they tell me they can't help it, they got the talking gene from me!
I got it from my mother, too. When she wasn't smacking me around, she was making me coffee while bochinchando (is that not the great Dominican word? means gossiping) on the phone.
Hi Aliza, I get that very same comment everywhere: “Are you REALLY Dominican?…” “But your pants are too loose” (comment from fellow dominicanas) or “but you are too quiet” (comment from fellow dominicanos). In fact, just two weeks ago I got that comment from the guys at the Garden Gourmet's prepared food section. When I told them that in fact I was raised in the DR, then they said “Ah, it's because you are from the rich class” (I am translating here). I clarify to them that I was not, but if I was – would that make me less Dminican?… Interesting topic. Thanks for bringing it up!