Culture Shock

How was your weekend? Drink some beer, hang at the pool with the family and eat a hot dog or 12? Me too! Ok well kinda.

I’ve got this big truck project going on right now, which means that most of my “free” time is spent in my garage tearing up a perfectly good Chevy and making it cool. This weekend was no different, as pretty much all of my time was spent in my 2-car wrenching on metal. Yesterday though, we made the trek out to West Phoenix to have dinner with my lady friend’s family.

A little history here; I’m from old-stock. I’m a recently naturalized citizen from Canada, and my family has roots back to the 12th century in England. My girlfriend has mostly Irish roots, which you can really see in her pale skin and cute freckles.

Her family tree is a bit more spread out though. Her family tree has more branches than Wells Fargo. Her mom & dad had her at a very young age, and have since divorced and remarried 4-times each. They’re in their 40’s.

Oh she’s 23 btw. I’m 29.

So the family we were going to see yesterday was her dad Mark, and his current wife, Cathy. She’s hispanic, and I’m pretty sure English is her second language. She has one son, Julio, who’s married to Annessa, and they have a 15 month old.

I haven’t spent much time with them, mainly because I feel so awkward when I’m there. As a comic, and a general extrovert, you’d think I could make anyone laugh or at least work in a conversation. Normally, that’s true, but not so with Cathy and the crew. Lots of times I think what I’m saying is lost in translation, or that I’m looked at as some rich kid from Scottsdale who’s “slumming it” with them. At least that’s my impression.

Flash to last night, and when I get there, Julio and Annessa are smoking on the back patio.

Another little bit of backstory: I’ve got a ton of allergies. Yes, I’m a little putz in that respect. I also have a pretty good case of asthma, something which is triggered by two things; Exercise and cigarette smoke.

The last time I was at the house, the family smoked away from me. This time, Julio and Annessa didn’t remember this, although Mark did and walked away from me to smoke.

Right away I’ve got a bad feeling about this, because Cathy’s gay brother is there too, and he’s in a short pair of translucent green shorts. I’ve spent about 4 hours with this guy, and I’ve never heard him say anything in english, but I have caught him checking me out. I could care less that he’s gay, but the kid is almost a mute, and when he does speak its in spanish. Man I wish I had stayed awake in high school.

The dinner was great. There was this crazy beef deal, tortillas, salsa, shrimp in salsa, all sorts of great Mexican dishes, and all authentic. Good stuff. But while we’re eating and chatting, Cathy just turns to her brother and Julio and starts talking in spanish. Our conversation was apparently not interesting enough for them, and that really bugs me. I think it’s super rude for someone to just shift languages in a dinner conversation, it makes me feel like they’re either talking about me, or trying to keep something from us.

Call it what you will, I felt weird.

The conversation was stilted at best, but I ate my food, complimented Cathy on the delicious eats, and got a half smile as her head turned to talk to her brother. There was lots of dead air in between strained jokes on my part. Then the table just started disappearing.

Next thing I know I’m at the table with my g/f, and Julio is at the other end smoking and talking to his buddy who just showed up.

I spent 20 minutes just sitting there with my woman, exchanging awkward glances. After a lot of whispering, we decided it was time to leave. It was 6:20.

We got there at 5.

And that was my weekend. Yours?

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