Monday, March 12, 2012
This past Wednesday, I had a very frightening experience at the mall, and I thought I would share.

For those of you who know me, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I like talking to people. I'll strike up a conversation with just about anyone. One of the best parts about actually looking like a foreigner is that people here assume I'm interesting and will strike up a conversation with me, instead of the other way around. I really enjoy it.

But after Wednesday, I'm not so sure.

I'd taken the boys to the Forum Mall in Koramangala to play in the children's play area adjacent to the food court. I sat down with my laptop, planning to take advantage of the hour and a half of peace and quiet. About ten minutes into my "break", a man asked whether he could sit down at my table. I, assuming he must be the father of one of the other children in the play area, said of course. I'd snagged one of the prime "kid watching" tables, it seemed only fair to share one of the other three chairs.

And here's where everything started going wrong. Instead of boring you with an enormous monologue detailing the "he said, she said", I thought I'd compile a list of appropriate and inappropriate actions while talking to a married American woman with two children. Hopefully it will give you some insight into the (American) female mind.

The DO's

DO ask general questions like "Where are you from?" or "How do you like Bangalore?" I'm fully aware I'm WAY too pale-skinned to pass for an Indian native. I won't take offense at your assumption, and I'll gladly answer your questions. That's essentially what I'm sharing here on the blog.

DO feel free to make observations about me. "You have a funny accent." or "You must be new here." Again, stating the obvious will not anger me, so long as you don't mention my weight or my not-so-clear skin. Even my husband gets in trouble for that one.

DO ask about my family. I love my kids, and when they're right next to me, separated only by a thin sheet of glass, it's perfectly appropriate to ask what grade or how old they are. I can talk about them forever. This is especially great if you have children to gush about. I'm not ashamed to say I carry photos on my cell phone in hopes someone will instigate a brag-fest

DO suggest places or things I need to try. There's nothing better getting recommendations from the experts.

The DO NOTS

DO NOT invade my personal space without my permission. I'll admit, I'm an overweight mother of two. I've been out of the dating game for over eight years now, so I'm probably not the person to give advice on flirting. But just assume that if the girl mentions her boyfriend or husband, she's probably not "secretly" asking you to run your finger up her arm. Americans as a rule tend to expect a little more distance between each other when speaking, especially with strangers. When in doubt, back up.

DO NOT wax poetic about how beautiful my eyes are - especially if I've already mentioned a husband or boyfriend. Do not assume that when I jerked my arm out of your finger's reach; that was secret code for "please tuck my hair behind my ear for me"

DO NOT ignore all other physical cues (flattening myself against a wall to get away from your fingers, complete lack of eye contact, broad hints that I need to get back to work) and try to share not only my table, but my seat. I do not want you to sit in my lap.

DO NOT follow me to another table if I move, especially if I actually say the words "I want you to leave me alone." If you hear these words, the appropriate response is an immediate retreat.

The REALLY, SERIOUSLY, DON'T GO THERE

DO NOT run your finger across the tops of my breasts pointing out moles, and commenting about how gorgeous they are. First of all, ew, and second - NEVER touch a girl's boobs in public. I don't care whether you can see my navel because my shirt's too short and you're too tall. Consider them wet paint.

DO NOT assume that I want you to put your cell phone number in my phone while I'm checking on my children. I did not teach Tyler to cry on command so you would have time to do this AND get my phone number. In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say you shouldn't even have your eyes on the screen of my phone or laptop at any time, unless I am holding it up to your eyes. DON'T, JUST DON'T

DO NOT ask me to kiss you before I leave. If I'm to the point of exiting the building to get away from you, I'm not in the mood for a European greeting or goodbye. I'm an American - we don't even use lip gloss after each other, we especially do not kiss strangers - especially stalker strangers.

The I THINK YOU NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP

DO NOT pluck a stray hair from my shirt, comment on how pretty it is, and then stick it in your pocket.

The I THINK I NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP

DO NOT follow me all the way out to the auto-rickshaw stand when I am trying to get myself and my children away from you. At this point, I have no problem finding a friendly (not creepy) security guard and asking him to detain you. I'm a stay-at-home mother - I've got the time to fill out a lot of paperwork if necessary.

The I WILL KILL YOU AND HAVE NO GUILT

NEVER touch my children. EVER.


Special Thanks to Andy (and Ludacris) for my new theme song.





9 comments:

Josh Edwards said...

Seems like you had quite the interesting conversation. What lesson did we learn? Next time, don't share your table....

Lorenda said...

Next time, locate the security guards BEFORE entering the food court.

Anonymous said...

Mother: "I knew something like that would happen went you left for kindergarten. I should have kept you at home-just too much freedom, I guess." Did I jokingly say that outloud?

Mark Pearce said...

Next time, pack heat.

Mark Pearce said...

Next time, say, "Don't touch me. I have diarrhea."

Mark Pearce said...

Next time, declare a tickle fight and punch him in the throat. Blame cultural/language differences.

Sarah said...

CRAZY! You are nicer than me. If someone asked to sit at my table I would say no. I've done it before.

Chance said...

Holy crap!

Lorenda said...

I should mention that my big strong husband used my new phone entry to text the guy and basically tell him that Bad Things will happen if we should ever accidentally meet again. Since that point, I haven't received any more calls or texts.

Funny thing is, here in India, Jason actually did outweigh this guy by at least forty pounds.

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