I've had a blissful few months without this particular annoyance, so I've lost some of my patience about it. In the last few weeks, I've had a lot of "No, where are you really from"-type exchanges.
The vast majority of people who ask me where I'm from do so because, obviously, I don't sound like I'm from these parts. When I say "California" or "San Francisco", they usually say one of two things: Oh, I visited and loved it! or Oh, I've always wanted to visit! And we continue with our lovely conversation, where I generally tell them they should go back, or they should try to visit as soon as possible.
There are, however, a certain percentage of people, here and at home, who will ask me where I'm from not because of how I sound, but because of how I look. The "No, but where are you really from" question is annoying, not least because I get tired of being asked it all the time, but there are lots of other reasons I hate this question.
First, it implies that I can't really be from California. Which, fuck you: my whole family is there; my mother is buried there; my grandparents are buried there. I'm Californian, and American, so you can stick that where the sun don't shine. Second, it shows that you don't really care to actually find out anything about me- you just want to check off the box in some list you have in your head. Listen: the fact that I'm from San Francisco tells you way more about me than the fairly irrelevant factoid you're needling for. If you were actually interested about me as a person, you would work with that.
I know that many people ask this out of genuine friendliness and curiosity. But, okay, how often do white people get asked that by random people at bus stops? Not as often as I get this question, I'm willing to bet. Does this mean that because you're white, your family and background are inherently less interesting? Well, if that's true, I'm offended on behalf of the white people I know. I mean, when people ask The Limey where he's from, and he says Stoke, that's the end of the conversation. (Or they say, Oh, where is that exactly? Or, I'm sorry.) But is his family's story any less interesting than mine?
The last few of these exchanges have involved people addressing me with the few words they happen to know of some Asian language, generally greeting me with "Ni hao". Once, I was going to say something, but the person was a well-dressed missionary, and I thought it was prudent not to attempt any conversation with them at all, so I just walked on. Another time, I responded with a smile and, "I'm sorry, I don't speak Mandarin Chinese." To which the reply was a surprised, "Well, that's a first!" How is that a first? The last time I checked, 5 billion people on this earth don't speak Mandarin, asshat. So is this really the first time you've come across a non-Chinese speaker? Even amongst us slanty-eyed Orientals, hundreds upon hundreds of millions don't speak Mandarin. It's something this guy should get used to.
I'm thinking of getting some good stock response printed up on business cards. I can just hand them out. Let me know if you have any good comebacks.
Okay, rant over.