Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Language, or I Just Had a Margaret Cho Moment

This conversation actually occurred at my local Whole Foods earlier tonight. Really, I don't make these things up.

I approached the cashier with my purchases and loaded them onto her platform. She started ringing up my purchases, and then:

She: How are you?
Me: Fine, thanks. You?
She: Fine.

[Wait for it.]

She: Paper or plastic? Hey, how do you say 'paper or plastic' in your language?

[And there it is. I momentarily lost the power of speech.]

Me (internal): Did she...?
Me (external): Wha...?
She: How do you say 'paper or plastic' in your language?

[Oh no she di'n't! Except that, well, yes, she did. She actually repeated it.]

Me (internal): Are people actually still like this?
Me (external): Uh, you mean, in English?

[I didn't see the need to go through a long explanation that, despite my facial features, "my language" is English. Shamefully, my Chinese skills have deteriorated dramatically in the past ten years. Sadly, I'm better at French and Spanish -- hell, even Italian -- than I am in Chinese.]

She: Oh. I thought... no, I really thought you were from...
Me (internal): Please don't. You'll only hang yourself.
She: I don't even know where.
Me (internal): That's a pretty good dial-back. I'm glad you didn't actually try to guess what Asian country I'm from.
Me (external): [nervous laughter]

I was immediately taken back to Margaret Cho's routine I'm The One That I Want. Part of her routine talked about an exchange during the run of her (short-lived) show All-American Girl. A local television station (I forget where) had just switched over to an ABC affiliate, and she was talking to a reporter.

Reporter: Why don't you tell our viewers, in your native language, that we're switching over to an ABC affiliate?
Margaret Cho: [looks into camera] They're switching to an ABC affiliate.

That's me. Know how I say "paper or plastic" in my native language? "Paper or plastic."

1 comment:

Dop said...

How do you say "Fuck off" in your language?