Got My Burrito Goggles On

22 09 2011

My burrito goggles are like beer goggles, only it is lunch time and I am not drinking.  And burrito goggles don’t make people better looking, they make them look like they might be Ethiopian.

The longer I sit in this restaurant eating my burrito and stealing furtive looks at the guy at the table across from me the more I am convinced he is from the Horn of Africa.

Problem is he is too hot to just, “Selam.”

After my experience “Selaming” a very NOT hot man two weeks ago I am a bit more cautious.  I “Selamed” him.  He said, “Why did you say that to me?”  I said, “Oh, sorry, I thought you might be Ethiopian.”  He raised his eyebrows and said, “I could be Ethiopian.”  Yeah.  Incredibly uncomfortable.  By the way, if I ever do decide to pick up guys at 4 pm on a Friday, I will wear mascara, oh, and I will SHOWER.

Anyhow.

I keep looking and I am thinking thoughts like, “He eats like a North American.”

And, “I wish someone would talk to him so I know if he has an accent.”

And, “I don’t know many young Ethiopians who shave their heads.”

Um, reality check.  The vast majority of young Ethiopians I know are five and under.  Their mothers don’t let them use razors.

To make matters worse I am staring straight at him.  He is sitting in a normal…

Wait, he is getting up, oh, his shoes look Ethiopian.  DAMN – HE JUST LEFT.  DAMN!  Missed opportunity.

Well, back to why that was super uncomfortable.  He was sitting the “normal” way in this restaurant; facing the windows so you can watch life go by on the street.  I am facing the OPPOSITE way – so I can plug in my laptop.  There was no-one in between us.  So basically it was almost like we were sharing a table.  We were about seven feet away from each other and looking directly at each other.  EXCEPT – after he caught me staring I never looked up from my keyboard again.

I intentionally choose this restaurant because it is on campus.  The number of colors and cultures represented at any point in time is fantastic.  Also, I can sit here and eat a burrito while stealing WiFi from the Starbucks next door.  Part of the reason I come here is with the secret hope of running into Ethiopians.  The reason I bring my kids here is so they can see the many “Shades of People.”

Lesson learned, I need to get back to being bold.  If someone thinks I am trying to pick them up, so be it.  I actually ended up having an interesting conversation with that guy a couple weeks ago after it became VERY clear to him that I wasn’t hitting on him.

For the sake of my son, I will force myself to talk to strangers, even if they are hot.  (The sacrifices of a mother never end.)

And, I will remember to always check the shoes.  Because when it comes to stereo-typing people the shoes are as good a place to start as any.

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13 responses

22 09 2011
Erin

You could blog about your Selaming attempts alone! I hope I get to watch your selaming (or agonizing over whether to selam or not) first hand.

22 09 2011
Sam's Mom

So, what do Ethiopian shoes look like?
I am a bit bolder yet … I will ask anyone who appears to be from Africa, anywhere in Africa, who has a pronounced African accent (ie: I’m thinking Kenyan or Ugandan or Somalian, etc.) “you have a lovely accent, can I ask where you are from originally?” And then when they say Kenya or Uganda or Sudan or Somalia I pull out my phone, thrust a picture of Sam in their face and say, as if we are some super-secret best-friend society “Oooo, my son is Ethiopian and his name is Yeabsera and he’s 3 and we were in Ethiopia for a month back in 2009 and I loved it and its wonderful…blah blah blah” Some smile and try to walk away gracefully. Some just walk away. Some smile and engage me in further conversation until they can walk away gracefully. 1 or 2 (in 2 years) have engaged in conversation and done so again when seeing me the next day, week, month.

22 09 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

The shoes weren’t Ethiopian as in made-in-Ethiopia. But more Ethiopian as in they looked like just slightly different than normal plastic flip-flops that an Ethiopian would wear. DUH!!!!
Please don’t tell me you can’t tell where a person is from by their style of eating or the exact type of flip-flop they wear. Jeez.

22 09 2011
The Lost Planetista

You are so hilarious. For real. LOL! 🙂

I always check the shoes first, too. In every situation. I remember people by what shoes they wore. It tells so much about a person.

We love “Shades of People” too- really pivotal book in Dew Drop’s world. She talks about it all of the time.

22 09 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

Oh no!!
I blew out my sandals a couple weeks ago and have been reduced to wearing Pepto-Bismol colored plastic flip-flop/croc/birkenstock hybrids that were hand-me-downs from my 74-yr-old mother. (And I could not make that up if I tried. So don’t doubt me or I will be forced to post a picture.)
I am so glad we met on the internet or you would never allow me to visit the Lost Planet.

22 09 2011
Scooping it up

You have such crappy luck with this, I love how you tell these stories! I don’t know if I have Ethio-dar or what but I have made eye contact with people who are giving the Probably Ethiopian Vibe, they see my kid, make abrupt u-turns and come over to talk. Maybe he is OBVIFREAKINGOUS Ethiopian, I don’t know. One way to ease the nervousness is to give them an “in.” One way is that someone in my family is almost always wearing something that points to Ethiopia. It’s not on purpose, it just happens. We have a ton of shirts that talk about Ethiopia or are from ET, or the flag colors. It’s a good conversation starter to announce it with what you’re wearing. Another ice breaker: I use Amharic with my kids, simple silly, not much, like body parts, “gobez!” if he does something good, we all say amesegenallehu instead of thank you a lot of the time. By using these words in public (i.e. shouted where I think a maybe-Ethiopian can hear) it gives Amharic speakers a chance to do a double take, make the eye contact and the connections come from there. Did you ever read about my Ethio-dar when my youngest was in the hospital? It ended up being an intense experience. http://scoopingitup.blogspot.com/2010/11/witness.html

Not to be an overly obnoxious self-promoting comment whore, but if you need help with the “Ethiopia clothes” I have a store opening any day/week now (website troubles are plaguing me and will hopefully be resolved soon). Catch a glimpse here, Semi-baby. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Village-Thread/155001901248120

23 09 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

It does seem like lots of these encounters occur when I do not have Little Dude with me. Maybe I should get t-shirts with his face on them, super-imposed over the Ethiopian flag.
As far as I know there are only a total of half-a-dozen adopted Ethiopian children in our whole town. And I have not yet .run into an Ethiopian ex-pat here. Although I have met a few Eritreans. So the opportunity for chance encounters is very small. (I guess that is why I have to make them up in my head.)
I am looking forward to seeing the stuff in your on-line store.

23 09 2011
Tesi

love it. also, next time please take a picture.

also, also, aren’t all ethiopians hot?

23 09 2011
motherparadox

I think that where you live makes selam-ing about even more interesting and difficult. More unexpected by probable Ethiopians, especially by you, you funny sweet woman. It’s true, you could write about nothing else than attempts at selam-ing and I would be at rapt attention.

24 09 2011
Cazadora

Like everyone else, I am crackng up. I just told my husband of your Selamng escapades. Someday you should write an abridged blogthology of these. Really, quite hilarious.

24 09 2011
claudia

Laughing very hard over here!

27 09 2011
Jamey

I thought about you doing this the other week, you know, in an attempt to convince myself that I could do it too. I was trash-talking myself in comparison to you in my head…which since it’s my head seems unfair….

I missed that opportunity and then just the other day when I was flying my seatmate was an African woman with a really nice accent…and zero interest in talking to me despite my best efforts.

27 09 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

Oh Jamey – I HATE talking to people on planes. What would I do if my seatmate looked Ethiopian??????

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