Seeing Double


You know how it is often said that “to me, all [insert ethnic group or race] look alike”?

Well I just had one of those RBAY (right back at ya) moments when going shopping today.

I took Meng Yuan (daughter #2–her Chinese name means Dream Fulfilled, by the way) to a sort-of bargainable shopping mall, in part to find a winter snowsuit for China Surprise, and in part to spend a little one-on-one with Meng Yuan.

We made it kid friendly by hitting up McDonalds for some fries and nuggets on the way home and deep exchange of conversation on a 5 year old’s terms.

Anyway, my friend, who happens to have 4 kids (one of them is JB, who is being fostered), had told me about a stall that sold them at a pretty good price, and I actually managed to find it.

I saw the exact same snowsuit she had bought for JB, and I liked it, and the price was right, so I told the clerk I wanted to look at it.

As she took it down, she said, “weren’t you here the other day and bought this exact snowsuit?  You were here with your daughter…”

I said, oh that was my friend.

She didn’t look convinced.
She said my friend had been there with her older daughter, too.

AND, I was carrying two bike helmets in my hand, just as she was.

I think it was the bike helmets that clinched it for her.

Plus, I told her we have 4 kids, which my friend does too.

And, it was the exact same snowsuit.

How many foreigners can there be in one little Chinese city of 8 million who have all those things in common?
I think she was thoroughly confused.

I mean, my friend has dark hair, I have light hair.

Hers is long, mine is short.

She has brown eyes, I have blue eyes.

I’m taller, she’s thinner.

All those details that I see as obvious.

When we (i.e. westerners) are describing a stranger to someone else, we talk about height, hair color and length, skin color maybe.

I’ve heard that Chinese often first describe the eyes.

Big, or small.  Double lid or single lid.

Since the hair color is always black, and almost always straight, it’s not the first thing they latch on to, unlike us Westerners.

In any case, there is yet another family in town who just had their 4th child, who also likes to shop at that same place.

We should all go in together, to clarify a few things.

With all our kids in tow.


2 responses »

  1. These stories you share are so interesting. It’s neat to see how similar each culture is despite differences. Have you started spotting chinese versions of your friends and family back in the US? We saw a man when we were there that looked like the China version of my Uncle Roger.

  2. so the funny-ness factor of this was probably increased since I know “your friend” that you were talking about, but this definitely made me laugh… If it makes you feel better, sometimes when i’m telling someone here a story about being there and doing something with a family with four kids they need me to clarify which family i’m talking about, you they get you and that friend confused too (although i suppose it’s different since they can’t actually see a picture of who i’m talking about)

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