Friday, December 30, 2011

The Master

"So who are you then?"

So I'm stood at the cash register of my local grocery store. I'm pretty lucky to have one this close to my house. Especially as it's part of a chain and has no business being in the next town to mine based on the number of people that go there. Every time I go there I can park in one of the closest spots to the door guaranteed. I went there on Christmas Eve around 2pm - still parked near the door. Anyhoo being a small place the people that work there are familiar with me and my family. The main check-out cashier there that we see most often now knows that I'm English and that one of my kids was born overseas. She has asked if I'm a citizen and I tried to explain Permanent Residency. But like most people I've told it just does not compute and they assume that I said, "Yes, I'm a citizen" instead. The cashier will no doubt repeat that she cannot understand why anyone would move from England to central NY state. "Yeah...." I'll always reply.

Anyhoo - I'm stood at the cash register buying a few things for the week. My kids are sat in a race-car cart and having a grand time. They're a bit peeved that there were no free cookies at the bakery today but I did buy a doughnut for them to split. I have strategically placed the cart in the aisle so that my son can't reach candy on the one side or push the buttons on the debit card swipe thing. Like a true hero I'm packing my own bags. The cashier thinks this is amazing - not quite at the level of Jesus washing his disciples' feet but the degree of awe that a commoner like myself would bag groceries is somewhere on the minor-miracle level for her.

The point here is that I'm at the other end of the entire cash register just in ear-shot of the person stood behind my cart and my kids. My daughter is - what my Welsh friends would call - "performing." Meaning she's smiling at the person behind her and giggling like a lunatic. My son is less adept at this and is just smiling and staring at them in a friendly way. The person they are communicating with looks very much like Bolivian President Evo Morales, except slightly darker skin. The cashier has managed to ask me a question about whether it snows like this in England whilst simultaneously telling the Morales lookalike that I am from England. Obviously this was also a prompt for me to use my very hot English voice so that she and the cashier behind her can learn how a man who is average-to-okay looking can instantly appear much more attractive by sounding foreign. Morales briefly tells us that he was once stationed over in England for the Army. He doesn't say which army, but I'm assuming it wasn't the Bolivian one.

Being friendly Morales says to my kids (mostly my gurning daughter), "so who are you then?" My son is repeating the word, "Hi" and slowly waving at him. The waving continues almost entirely from this point until we leave. I know my daughter likes to talk to people and that she's likely to tell them her name. But I also know that she may also just say something quite random so I'm trying to listen in whilst putting rustling bags into the cart. Without appearing to think about it she tells Morales that she's an alien. Except she can't pronounce the word "alien." So instead Morales hears her say, "I'm an Aryan." He wasn't sure what she said so he asks her again. She tells him again that she's an Aryan.

He just says, "oh..." and looks up at me for clarification. Sadly at this point the cashier - seemingly unaware of what an Aryan asks me if we go home much. At which point I'm now certain that my use of a very clear posh English accent may sound quite Aryany - which makes no sense at all. So I'm carefully trying to tell her that, "no, we don't go home much" without using words like Fatherland, or that we like the US because there is far more liebensraum here for us. I'm also aware that if Morales knows what Aryan means, and thinks that is what my daughter said that he might think I have chosen not to talk to him on the grounds that I might be so racially sensitive that I choose not to talk to non-white people. So now I have walk a fine line. Because I have to say out loud to my daughter, "you're an alien?" so that I can clear up what she actually said, whilst also not compounding the whole racial-purity issue by not sounding like I'm asking Morales for his immigration paperwork.

So I did that and we left. "Enjoy the snow!" I tried to say in a friendly playful way. The cashier giggled. Morales smiled. Either because it's a nice thing to have pleasant conversation with people, or because he was nervous that I may have issued a veiled threat that he best enjoy the snow while he still can. So when we got home I was sure to convince my daughter to dress up like a United Colours of Benetton ad, and to listen to a lot of World music.Then I remembered that the day we were at the US Embassy to register our daughter as a US citizen some American lady told us that you could tell by her cranium shape that she was from the master race. Which made me feel even guiltier so I made a point of trying to learn a Senegalese freedom song on guitar to prove my bona fides. Way to go white liberal guilt.

Anyhoo - I don't think Aryans dress like this.

Which is an absurd thing to say but there you go.

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