Like last night, for instance.
I was volunteering with my family at my home church. Every year, our church does a living nativity with live animals and everything. Camels, goats, sheep, and Jack the Donkey. This year, instead of braving the elements, our family decided to bring refreshments to feed the actors and keep them warm. Among the treats was some homemade chicken noodle soup. Some Swanson broth and fettuccine pasta. Delicious. People kept coming in and out of the kitchen to grab a bowl of it. I admit, I even had a cup of the stuff, though I was comfortably warm the entire night.
She seemed a little chilly. She deserved some soup. She, too, thought it tasted really good. And she told us so.
“This Chinese chicken noodle soup is really good.”
Excuse me, what? Swanson broth and Barilla pasta… is Chinese? My two parents, my sister, and I just let it slide.
“You guys usually don’t put noodles in it,” she continued. Actually, my family always puts noodles in chicken noodle soup. Perhaps she was thinking of won-ton soup? That’s Chinese. But my family isn’t.
Then she said, “You guys don’t celebrate Christmas. What do you celebrate?” Her brother-in-law, who goes to church with us, interjected, “Yes they do,” with a roll of his eyes.
“Chinese New Year?” Michelle asked. Silence. “Are you Chinese?” Silence.
I waited for my parents to respond. They finally said, “No.”
“What are you? Korean?”
Filipino. What? We’re Filipino. What? We’re from the Philippines. What? Filipino.
“Oh, Filipino. I grew up with a Filipina. Yeah, her family was from the Filipino. Her name was… Lisa. They had 7 kids.” Thank goodness she didn’t ask us if we knew her. Because contrary to popular belief, we don’t know every other Asian person in the entire world. “Now that I look at you, I can see you’re not Chinese. You look Filipino. You have flatter faces. And you’re prettier. Your faces are… different.” Thanks?
One of Michelle’s relatives entered the kitchen. “Try some of this Filipino chicken noodle soup,” Michelle said. “It’s really good.”
“Actually it’s American,” my mom tried to say. Swanson broth and Barilla pasta. About as un-Asian as you can get.
I really wish I could get inside her head. Did she think we were Chinese caterers to provide refreshments for the church volunteers? Really, how often do you ask someone from outside the church to volunteer? Unless she thought we were getting paid? I guess I will never really know.
We weren’t offended by the whole experience. She didn’t mean any harm, and we’re used to this sort of thing (unfortunately). It’s just a shame that there are plenty of other Michelles out there who just don’t know any better.
But thanks for the laughs, Michelle. I really enjoyed your white people chocolate chip cookies.