I'm not racist. I'm not a homophobe. I'm not even afraid of the Mexican construction workers that stare me down (or anything with a vagina for that matter) and start babbling in Spanish really fast to their greasy friends. Okay, that was slightly racist. But in reality, I have nothing against them. They're just kind of creepy.
|The sign has a point. God I love Taco Bueno!|
Since 9/11 we've all been paranoid, and with good reason. Nevertheless, anyone that's tan and wearing those head scarf burka things gets stared at. They're not all freaking terrorists, people! I've never been nervous around anyone like that.
Until I got to France.
Let's rewind a bit. My second day in Vichy, I decided to actually show up to my afternoon class. I lied and told the teacher I was sick the day before, obviously, and sat down next to a girl, Uldana, from my other class. I skimmed the room to see if I knew anyone else in there and I didn't. A couple Asian guys introduced themselves to me, Kiet and Paul, and we chatted for a bit before the teacher decided to start class.
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a few older Arab men giving me the stank eye. I thought I was imagining this, but every time I looked back at them they kept staring. Then they'd babble to each other in Arabic so I couldn't understand them. Normally I wouldn't be bothered by this, but like I said I was getting the stank eye. They looked like they hated me and I didn't understand why. Then I remembered the fact that I look like a Barbie doll, and they probably had figured out where I was from. I was paranoid, unsettled, and also the only American in my class. Oh, and one of them was named Osama. Great.
|Random Arabs giving some girl the stank eye|
Our teacher made everyone go around the room and say where we were from. I gave serious thought to claiming Australia, but the teachers already knew what nationalities we were so I refrained. Now, you have to understand that people on that other side of the globe have staring issues. It's not impolite to stare the hell out of someone over there. It didn't really bother me when French people did this. It was a different matter, though, when I was being mean mugged by 30 year old Arab men. I knew they hated me, I just knew it!
|me and Amy reppin the stars & stripes during the World Cup.|
After all the introductions were made, our teacher decided to have us play a little vocab game. Guess who I got paired with? Those stank eye giving old men! Story of my life. I knew it was coming but I tried to ignore it. I reluctantly moved my chair over by their desks and tried to act like I had no idea they'd been gawking at me the past 20 minutes.
Once they finally decided to stop speaking in damn Arabic and talk to me, they were actually really nice. They made jokes about me not being a "real" American because I wasn't fat. Hardy harr harr. Okay, it was kind of funny.
I had judged them. I let my paranoia get the best of me, and for no reason. Yes, they had stared at me relentelessly. Did they mean to be douche bags? No. Staring at people isn't a big deal over there, and I only got freaked out because they were Arab....and old. It was stupid, and I felt bad about it later.
So, my fellow Americans, we all know this but sometimes we forget: Not everyone hates us. Yes, lots of people do (because we're awesome!), but lots of people don't. Leave your prejudices at home because you never know who could turn out to be a good friend.
PS - check out my new novel on Kindle and Barnes and Noble