Thursday Thoughts – Culture Clash

I was walking home from the shops, as I often do, with M on his bike and E in the stroller. A gentleman of middle eastern descent, possibly in his 40’s, passed by, and stopped to say something.

I say ‘something’ because I’m still not sure what it was, though I asked him to repeat it three times. I believe it was ‘Back?’

Whatever it was, it was definitely a question, and I wondered if he had seen me heading out and was now asking if I was heading back. Or perhaps he was a father of one of the kids at my son’s preschool, and he was asking if I was heading home now. I didn’t know, but I always think I might know people so I answered as best I could by nodding and saying yes.

When he first talked to me, we were going over a bump and I was trying to get M out of his way so he could pass, and I ended up knocking my water bottle out of my stroller, and when I put it back in I knocked something else out. The man seemed to stick around but I assumed it was to assist me because things were falling all over the place and I seemed like a hot mess.

But even when I was all sorted out, he remained beside me, syncing his steps with mine. He said, “Two? Two kids?” and I smiled and said yes.

Certainly he has seen me before, perhaps just with one of my kids, and now he’s just clarifying that I’m not just babysitting another child.

“You want more?”

“Sorry?”

“Kids. You want more?”

Huh. This just got oddly personal.

“Oh. Um, maybe. I don’t know.”

“Lot of work, yes?” He nodded knowingly.

Ah, I see. He probably has kids and is just relating on a parent to parent level about the hardships.

“Oh yes, definitely. Hard work but I’d probably have a third.”

“You like kids?”

Well this is a strange question to ask.

“Yes.” I replied, then under my breath added, “I like my own.”

“Maybe you have four.”

Wait, didn’t he just tell me how hard it was to have kids?

“No, no, I think 3 would be enough for us.”

“How old are you?”

Is he asking about my biological clock?

“Uh… 32? I still have plenty of time, I guess.”

WHY DID I JUST ANSWER THAT QUESTION?

He nods, then moves on to other casually personal questions.

“You have just one husband or two?”

WOAH. I DID NOT SEE THIS COMING.

“Ohhhh just one. One is plenty.”

“Hm. Many women these days, they have 2.”

I do not believe you.

“You want two husbands?”

“Oh no. Not me. Nope. Got one. He’s enough. Good enough. Yup. Just one. Nope nope.”

We arrived at an intersection and I nearly knocked M off his bike trying to push him into the alley so we could get off the road and away from a casual conversation suddenly turning into a marriage proposal. I said goodbye to this gentleman and ran-walked the heck outta there.

At the end of the alley, I realized the goodbye had been premature, as he’d turned off the main road and was crossing in front of us now. I hoped a nod of recognition would be enough, but he’d had time to think up more overly personal and inappropriate questions.

“You live in these apartments?”

“No, some different ones.”

I do not live in an apartment.

“You rent or own?”

“Um, own?”

WHY AM I ANSWERING HIS QUESTIONS?

“Yes. Throw money away.”

I do not know what this means.

I nodded in confused agreement and we parted ways, this time permanently.

I was making dinner about 3 hours later when I realized he was saying, “It’s good to own because renting is throwing money away.”

Huh. I guess we both agree on that, maybe he’d be a good second husband after all.

 

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