An Ordinary Drawing-Room Conversation

I’ve always been fond of babies.

According to my sister, I get two lactation spots on my T-shirt every time I get close enough to a baby. Now, I am familiar enough with my own biology and S’s hyperbole to know that this is highly unlikely, but the fact remains that I do tend to start insulting the Queen’s language with baby talk if I happen to meet one of those little gremlins.

So there I was last night, hammering away at a computer keyboard trying to slog my way to a better CPI, when the new neighbors decided to pay a visit. I’m normally too lazy and disinterested to take part in that kind of socializing, but since these neighbors had never met me before, I was duly ordered by my mother to get the dust off my face and get my lazy butt into the drawing-room in five minutes flat (okay, she said, “N, come here and meet Mr and Mrs P”, but that’s what she meant). I meekly obeyed.

I flashed my best “sleazeball lawyer” smile as I strode confidently into the drawing-room right behind mom. I looked smart. Confident. Killer. If Raymond was in the sweatshirt business, I’d have looked like The Complete Man. The neighbors looked suitably impressed and S looked suitably rolly-eyed.

I said hello to everyone. Shook hands. Exchanged greetings.

And spotted the pram in the corner.

It was small, blue colored affair and right inside it was an unbelievably cute baby girl. Deciding to go say hello to her too, I walked over, gave her a little smile and a wave, and made the usual meaningless noises.

To my surprise, the chatter level in the room fell sharply.

The neighbors were looking a bit weirdly at me.

And I understood.

In the neighbors’ opinion, a 6’3″ tall Raymond Man isn’t supposed to love babies.  Even if he’s wearing a sweatshirt. Just not done, you know. You gotta fit the stereotype and all that.

I glanced at my sister and exchanged unsaid words. Her eyes said everything. The rest of the evening was going to be a LOT of fun.

We deliberately talked a lot about the, ah, unconventional sides of our own personality.

I explained to Mrs P exactly why shiny pans are better for a Southern style cake.

Didn’t mention technology or engineering a single time unless asked a direct question.

Talked about every single “chick flick” A has ever coaxed me into watching.

Expressed my (very real) disdain for mindless action movies.

Showed them one of my more impressionistic watercolor paintings.

Talked about how relaxing cooking can be after a long day.

The expressions on the neighbors’ faces were priceless. S went on and on, lecturing everyone about the difference between Jamaican and Puerto Rican Rum, even as the Mr and Mrs P reeled in shock at the thought that a girl might drink rum.

They looked shocked enough for me to feel sorry for them, but hey, it’s not like they were being harmed or anything.

My parents struggled to understand what was going on and only cottoned on after I told them once the neighbors had left . We had a good laugh about it afterwards.

It’s so much fun baiting people who believe in stereotypes. So easy to shock them. So damn easy to make them raise their eyebrows right to the heavens in surprise.

They say it takes courage to challenge stereotypes. It does. But it can be a lot of fun too. It can even be an educational experience for the person who is doing the stereotyping. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, they’ll be less likely to go by appearance the next time. Or maybe they just think I’m a weirdo. I can live with that.

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15 thoughts on “An Ordinary Drawing-Room Conversation

  1. Oh yes – it can be so much fun! Personally, I never understood why so many other people think it requires great courage – unless you’re in danger of being physically assaulted or even killed. Like those lunatic khaps in Haryana.

    But for pissing off aunties etc – it’s one of the bright spots in my day. And my wife’s too!

  2. hahahaha! I love doing this too! I suppose people think it takes courage because they will then have to live with the disapproval. Many people do care what other people think, after all.

    • I suppose it WOULD require courage if you’ve been brought up to think a certain a way and suddenly decide to break out.

      Going against your own belief systems can certainly require a lot of courage.

      Besides, what others think about you can matter quite a bit (depending on who the “other” is). It’s all very well to have a bit of fun at the expense of the neighbors or even relatives, but doing the same thing with parents, or a spouse, or an SO for example would definitely take some intestinal fortitude.

  3. This is normally the best part about my “Sri Lankan” vacations. Making THE eyebrows raise 😉 I don’t get toiled in stereotyping here and nor do I get challenged. But during the holidays, its my major form of entertainment! Love it 😀

  4. ‘If Raymond was in the sweatshirt business, I’d have looked like The Complete Man.’

    U crack me up CE! Another masterpiece.

    As Fem said, a lot of people believe about their image in public. When I ask the women my age (not even aunties) visiting my place what alcoholic drink they wish to have, they are like, ‘nothing’. When I tell them which one I would have, they say,’if u r drinking, I will drink too’.

    • Lol.

      I were you, I’d flip-flop multiple times, just for a lark.
      When she says “I’ll drink too”, suddenly turn around and tell her that you really aren’t in the mood for anything alcoholic after all. And then flip around again.

  5. haha! wish i was there! infact i do have a guy friend whose passion is cooking, so theres to stereotypes. except for my parents rest of my relatives are, lets say “somewhat” conservative. so, my father has been very friendly towards me and he was the one who gave me my first drink. so my father and i have a drinking soir now then (last sunday infact!.:D). so when my relatives come and the male relatives they decide yeh lets have drinks, i simply go there, make a space for myself in btw and tell my dad, dad i want one too. and god you should LOOK at their expressions!! they are like YOU DRINK. i said yeh!! atleast i dont hide it..;)

    • Lol.

      Like I said, it’s so easy to shock the bajeezus out of them.

      Alcohol is one area where I do happen to toe the line of the traditionalists. I am a VERY occasional drinker, and as rule, I never touch anything stronger than beer (unless it’s a special occasion and wine is called for). My own vodka-loving peers tend to find that a bit weird, but they just accept it as yet another quirk in what’s in their eyes, a rather quirky person. Heh.

  6. that look on people’s face when they see someone breaking a stereotype..is just priceless! It just agitates them. I like driving them up a wall :p

  7. That was fun to read.
    I wish I had been able to eavesdrop on the dialogue between Mr and Mrs P after they left your place !
    They wouldn’t have stopped talking about you and S.
    They are probably spreading the word about you and S right now in your neighbourhood.

    Ok, I’m off now to read your previous post.
    Bye
    GV

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