My friend T and I went to an afternoon party last Sunday. He's Turkish, so people are often asking him about his ethnicity. Because it comes up so often, he often turns it around and asks people to guess mine. They don't guess it correctly, so I say, "half-Cuban, half-North European mix."
Sometimes when I give the reveal it's met with the chorus of, "you don't look Cuban." If I'm ornery I'll say, "Actually, I do. I just don't look like what you imagine Cubans to look like." But I'm not ornery too terribly often and today the conversation sails along.
So a little later we move to a nearby table and someone asks about T's ethnicity and we talk about Turkey and then T asks them to guess mine. This guy at the table, who had been all smiley and flirty with T and I says, "Mmmm, I'd say half-Cuban, half-North European mix." Using the very words that I had said 10 feet away 30 minutes prior.
T doesn't make the connection and asked him how he guessed it.
"Well, he's from Miami," he said. "So I thought, like, Cameron Diaz is half-Cuban."
I'm annoyed that he doesn't own up to overhearing the conversation, so I lie saying, "Cameron Diaz is half-Mexican, not Cuban."
"Oh, well, it's like in West Side Story," he says, retreating a bit, "all the Cubans are--"
"Those," I say, "were Puerto Ricans."
"Well," he says, "same di--" He cuts himself off, I guess realizing what he was about to say.
"He was about," I say, turning to T, "to say 'same difference.' At which point I would have climbed across the table and throttled him."