Sunday, July 10, 2005

Spotting white people

I have an hour before my movie and I thought I should write. Perhaps it is because I am in a sterile, corporate environment, which apparently, is my writer’s sanctuary. Where better to make cliché comments about a society I don’t really understand, than in a clichéd environment that I don’t really understand.
Just now, a father walked by with his child. The kid was wandering aimlessly, being tethered by the occasional tap on the head. The man looked at me with sheer fascination. The kid then looked at me rather blandly like “whatever.” The father then looked at the son as if to say “What you want more than that? I think he is the craziest thing I have seen in ages.”
My sore throat is back and its all this country’s fault. My throat apparently doesn’t like to be bathed in smoke. I tried a mask and it is better than dieing of smoke, its more of a dieing from lack of oxygen. Trust me, they are similar but different. In my mask, I feel similar and it’s a bitch to breath, but at least it is not smoke. Now I compromise with it on, then off, and back on. With it on, the lack of oxygen makes the whole driving experience even more of a trip, something it really does not need.
Yesterday I went to the Tainan Mitsukoshi, which was easily the most expensive and fanciest place I have ever been, and this includes a number of Japanese Mitsukoshi. I saw stores that are only available in a handful of city’s in the US.
My question, how much merchandise could a Zegna branch in Tainan really push in a day? A polo, on a bargin basement sale costs $150 US. This place is not exactly poor, but where does that kind of money come from? I met a dentist who was shopping at Bang and Olofson. Their stereos are about as expensive as they come, but I could not picture him, or anyone in Tainan, going to Zegna, Armani, and Burberry, and picking up some duds.
Much like I get a kick out of the idea of foreign gangsters, I guess I have a funny image of foreign rich people. I can’t really picture some hard core Taiwanese mofo here who doesn’t give a shit about anybody, similarly, I can’t picture some aggressively rich playboy out on a spending spree in town.
In this mall, the $39 store sells boxes, jars, and all sorts of other carrying devices, with big British and American flags on them. There are aisles with nothing but boxes decorated as American flags. I can picture something like that selling in only two places in the world, Kentucky and Asia.
I run into foreigners here and they clearly don’t give a shit that you are foreign. Mind you, they are rare, I have only seen about two or three. However, each time, its clear they don’t want to talk to you just because you are foreign.
I figure we are having similar experiences, plus I get to actually communicate. However, they are consistently visibly put off. I figure they get so put off by the fact that they stand out, they are pissed off that a fellow foreigner would not understand. I can understand not wanting to be the center of attention constantly, it is weird, but why so cynical about it?
I do find it a tad off putting to be constantly stared at, to be surrounded by shoulder taps amongst groups, and tiny whispers. That said, I have to sympathize. Hell, when I see a white person, I stop dead in my tracks.
I would obviously not change it, I think it is clear that I like it. That said, it does get weird. Sometimes you wonder if the constant stares are your imagination, or if all of them are thinking nasty things. Its one of the reasons I smile so much.
As I said earlier, I think a lot of the people here react so well to my smiles because they feel more cosmopolitan, it’s an approval from the world. However, I start feeling bad if I don’t smile immediately. In the US, I smile at almost everyone, assuming they make the least bit of a look in my direction. But in the US, the portion of the population that looks nowhere near me is pretty high. Here it is pretty rare for someone to not look vaguely in my direction, if for not other reason to make sure they saw what they thought they saw.
Seriously though, white people look messed up.


Jared Seehafer said...

"There are aisles with nothing but boxes decorated as American flags. I can picture something like that selling in only two places in the world, Kentucky and Asia."

Or Texas. Or anywhere that has a disproportionate amount of Toby Keith fans.

Matthew K Warner said...

Yeah, I could not think of a piffy way to include all of those states. I think I will change it to "I can picture something like that selling in only two areas in the world, Asia, or America's gooey red center."

javajake said...

you could say "america's gooey red center" as supplied by Walmart.