I get asked my ethnicity all the time. There was the little old Serbian woman in smoking area of the casino who asked me: Where are you from? I knew she wasn’t asking about East York. She wanted to know where in Europe my people came from. When I told her I was Macedonian she nearly burst into ethnic song. We chatted for a bit. Me in broken Macedonian and she in simple Serbian. She wanted to know: where my parents came from, when they came, if I was born in Canada, if I had children (she told me I still had time) and whether I was married or divorced. Her son was divorced â€• he just turned 37 â€• hint hint.
And last weekend it was the owner of a furniture store. He called after me: Portuguese? Italian? Greek? At one point (as I was looking at coffee tables) he started talking to me in Italian. I told the multilingual fellow that I was Macedonian thinking he was Italian and I escaped the need to chit chat in my native tongue (which I speak poorly). But nope, he was Macedonian and I was trapped. He wanted to talk about our people and the things I did not know because I was born here. Typical Macedonian afternoon conversation. (He was actually an interesting man and he had some nice furniture too.)
This stuff always happens to me.
I’ve got the olive skin tone that says come and chat with me â€• I am one of your people. And I am. I guess.