Man or woman

I just read a post by California Gal about her son. She posted a photo of her son and asked if he looked like a girl. He’s a cute looking kid but still looks like a boy to me. But then, maybe non-Asians can’t readily see the gender difference in Asians? They need other cues like clothing, cosmetics, or voice. This reminded me of an embarrassed look I received a few months back.

It was February in Virginia. As usual, I was running late to school. I had just taken a shower, thrown on my clothes and gather my stuff for the day. The day was sunny and bright, but cuttingly cold with a brisk breeze, so I threw on my knee-length parka, wrapped a wool muffler around my neck and put on my sunglasses. I didn’t have time to dry my shoulder length hair so instead of putting it in a pony tail and risk letting it get all smelly, I did as I usually do: I let it air dry.

The walk to the Metro is a short seven minutes, and with the wind blowing, my hair was drying rather nicely despite the cold. As I was about to enter the Metro station, a rather big burly black dude abruptly approached me, as if to ask me something.

When I stopped, he asked, “Hey, babe, you gotta light?”

Okay, I’m not that skinny, but I guess a long puffy parka can seem to hide a girlish figure. My sunglasses perhaps would disguise the fact that I was not wearing make-up. Still… Babe? *sigh* So with my long hair flowing in the breeze, I responded:

His eyes grew large, and all he could do was sputter, “uh, oh, uh, okay,” and he walked away, face looking rather flushed. Dude, I thought, I swear I didn’t mean to embarrass you.