Jethro and I were walking through the grocery store buying Halloween candy yesterday, when we happened upon an old lady hawking soup.
We obliged her by trying some and purchasing a can.
She asked Jethro if he "spoke another language."
He affirmed that he spoke Vietnamese.
She asked if we were married.
We said we were.
She asked if we had children.
We said we did.
She asked us if they looked like either of us or something altogether different.
Jethro pulled out a picture, so she wouldn't be imagining children with green skin.
She then said she was learning to speak Mandarin Chinese.
We politely raised our eyebrows and congratulated her.
Then she said she had always been raised to think that American culture was superior to other cultures, but...
I cut her off and said, "It is."
She looked confused for a moment and then said reproachingly that she had lived in Mexico City for awhile and that Mexicans were wonderful people.
I said, "They are," and refrained from adding, "But you don't have to live in Mexico to know that."
She said even though there is crushing poverty, it doesn't mean their culture is worse than ours.
I said, "Yeah, it kind of does."
Jethro mediated and said it only meant their government is worse than ours.
I refrained from asking what kind of culture would support a government who insisted on remaining corrupt amidst soul-crushing poverty...
She then said it was a good thing to learn about other cultures.
I said, "It is. That way you know for a fact that ours is the best."
Then I saw the look of hurt and confusion in her eyes, and pussied out and told her I was just teasing.
But really, she was barking up the wrong tree. I know she assumed that Jethro and I, as an interracial couple, would automatically be accepting of, and interested in other cultures. And that would be true if we weren't then required to turn on the culture of the country in which we live - which made and continues to make our life together possible.