Question of the Week: February 12th, 2013

After some discussion amongst ourselves, we decided to no longer have open threads.  Instead, we will have questions of the week every week, alternating between Aydan and me.

What I really want to know is… who are all these people reading our blog?  But that’s not a very specific question.  So let’s imagine we’re at a social function, and everyone’s meeting each other for the first time.

The first thing everyone asks me is, “Do you play basketball?”  Because I’m tall.  So I must be good at basketball (not).

When you meet people for the first time, what questions do you often get asked?  Does it bother you at all?

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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13 Responses to Question of the Week: February 12th, 2013

  1. Carmilla DeWinter says:

    Well, since nobody else will: people often don’t believe I’m actually a pharmacist – apparently, I don’t look old and serious enough for that kind of profession. Also, especially men over 50 are prone to surprise that I belly dance, given how I’m “not fat”. (Yes, really. WTF?)
    All of these things are kind of compliments, but underhanded still, because I have to face that disbelief even while I wear my white labcoat and try to advise people that dry swallowing painkillers isn’t actually very clever, and related things…

  2. Eponine says:

    When people learn that I’m a grad student (or undergrad in the past), they find it hard to believe, or they ask, “Did you start school very early?” Because my looks haven’t changed since I was 16. It doesn’t really bother me, because I rarely socialize with strangers anyway. And answering this made me realize I haven’t met anyone new in a long time, lol.

  3. queenieofaces says:

    “Are you deeply religious?”
    I’m not even kidding. I had a dentist appointment over break, and the assistant who was working on me asked me, “So, I have to ask, are you deeply religious? Because when you walked in, I thought you might be.” I have also been asked by complete strangers if I am Muslim, Amish, Jewish, Catholic, etc.
    I guess it’s because I have really long hair and tend to dress in a somewhat conservative and totally unfashionable manner? (I have no fashion sense and dressing in oversized sweaters keeps guys from hitting on me on the subway.) Oh, and I never swear, which I guess makes people think I am super uptight. I’m not actually religious at all (but I study religion), so I always side-eye people who ask me that. Plus, at least in American culture, it’s kind of bad form to ask someone about their religious beliefs straight off the bat.

  4. Seth says:

    The winner: “How long have you been growing your tail?” or something similar (best variation to date: “Ohmigod, you have the best hair ever! Can I take a picture of your hair?!”). I’ve gotten used to it, and it doesn’t happen often enough to really bother me.

    The runner up: “Are you veg*n?” Yes, I am, and since people tend to expect otherwise, it comes up fairly often, and then leads into the inevitable when and why questions. I don’t mind, as long as the person doing the asking isn’t a complete asshole about it (that did happen once).

    Dishonorable mention: “Do you play guitar?” Because people who listen to shred music, look like Eric Johnson, and don’t regularly clip their fingernails are probably guitarists, apparently (I’m not). I don’t remember the last time I was asked this, but I do remember being asked on three separate occasions by the same CD store owner, as well as a few times by other people. I don’t mind; it’s just a bit weird.

    • queenieofaces says:

      I’m impressed they ask about your hair first; people tend to sneak up behind me and start stroking my hair without saying anything to me, because apparently they think that’s not creepy? Unfortunately, when someone grabs my hair, my first reaction is “oh, the guys from the dojo are trying to mess with me again” so I usually try to counterattack. *cough* That’s led to some…interesting conversations.

      • Effi says:

        I get hair comments occasionally. I can only remember one person trying to touch my hair without asking, and he had people warning me and apologizing for him- I think he had some kind of developmental disability? If I’m with my sister, new people always comment that we look very alike. Like with the hair, I find these comments more difficult to deal with than questions because I have no idea how to respond to them…

  5. Gwendolyn says:

    “Where do you get your clothes?”

    As if anyone gets all their clothes from a single place. In order to be brief (and mostly true), I usually answer simply, “the internet.”

    Or else, “ermagerd, are your nails real!??!”

    Yes, they are.

    I totally understand why these are the first questions I frequently get asked, but it’s still disappointing because they’re such dead ends.

  6. Sara K. says:

    Well, the question I get the most is definitely ‘妳是哪一國人?’ (‘What is your nationality?’), which is pretty understandable, given that I’m a white person living on a island in Asia where 99.9% of the population is Asian by heritage. Occasionally, especially in areas with poor lighting or in rural/suburban areas which hardly ever see international tourists, I even get mistaken *for* Asian. That would never happen in the United States, but it some places around here the appearance of a white person is so unexpected that their first assumption is that I’m a funny-looking Asian, not a non-Asian.

    Back to the question, I usually answer ‘我是從舊金山來的’ (‘I am from San Francisco’), which usually takes them a moment to understand, since ‘San Francisco’ is not a nation, and thus technically not an answer to the question … but the United States is so big that I prefer being more specific from the get go.

  7. Norah says:

    One of the questions I often get when meeting new people, is that they ask what I do (for a living, is what they mean, but it can turn into ‘what do you do during a day’). It doesn’t bother me (the answer: unemployed/disability) on its own, because I have no problems with my own unemployment. But what happens after usually does bother me because the other side will often get very uncomfortable, because they assume I am feeling inferior because of it, or because they’re just uncomfortable about disabled people, or they just think I’m too young not to work or they can’t see how I’m disabled or whatever. I am wary (and weary) of doing the whole dance around that that often happens.

    If the question turns to what I do all day, I have taken to just answering stuff like “whatever the **** I want” or “Well, you know, I sit in a chair and stare and then I get up and sit in another chair and stare a bit more, and feel very depressed in general” (in a sarcastic tone that is clear enough that almost everyone will get that I a) don’t actually mean it and b) they should shut up now).

    My partner and I together also sometimes get asked when we’re getting married (we’re not. ever). It doesn’t bother me much except for how much marrying is considered to be a default or a “next” step or special by default.

    • Seth says:

      I agree about marriage. I’m hardly ever asked about my relationship status, but it bugs me all the same. I dislike the whole concept of marriage, and it confuses me how easily most of the population buys into the idea that any lasting intimate relationship will culminate in marriage and that is a good thing.

    • morethanx says:

      Thirding on the marriage thing! And after that it’s “so when are you going to have children?” It never stops!

  8. morethanx says:

    I get quite a lot of “are you alright?”. I have Tourette’s and some of my motor tics are quite noticeable and people don’t really know what I’m doing. Some people just say ‘oh ok’, but then you get other people who want to ask loads of questions, which can be annoying if I’m tired/pissed off/trying to relax. Second is “can you hear someone’s phone?” thanks to my whistling tic that sounds exactly like a text alert sound.

  9. Aydan says:

    I mostly get asked the normal questions, like “what do you do?” and “what do you study?” Sometimes they ask where I’m from.
    Alas, no one has ever asked me, “Where are you going with that purloined concertina?!”

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