Friday, July 14, 2006

my name is not Joe

I am tall. I am of Anglo appearance. I live in the Philippines. I do not look like a Filipino. It is to be expected that I’ll get some looks and comments in public. Early on, it was quite endearing – even if the usual comment (“Hey Joe!”) meant that the speaker assumed I was American. (Joe = G.I. Joe = hangover from US occupation/long-time presence of US troops.) And the usual question that followed “Hey Joe!” offered a good opportunity for some lighthearted banter. “Hey Joe, what your height?”

Eight-eleven!” (From me, cheerily.) An exaggeration, of course. But goodness, what fun we had.

Gradually, the ensuing hilarity dwindled. My responses dried up. The novelty wore off. Now, I’ve been here almost 3 years. And god help me if I don’t turn towards the next Hey Joe! and scream, “yes, I look different to you; yes I’m tall – please fucking deal with it! You’ve had fucking Europeans in this country for at least the past 400-odd years, get the fuck over it. Please.”

Yes, much of the time people are just being friendly. No, it’s hardly the worst example of discrimination (or whatever you want to call it – singling someone out because they look different, for whatever reason) on Earth. Yes, I'm just being a whingeing foreigner. Yes, if I don't like it, I should fuck off back home to Australia. But, fuck, I'd love to be able to just walk down the street in peace.

Sorry. Had to get that off my chest. Please indulge me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aha Mr "Secret". We already know you're from Austraila and a "man", which rules out something like 99.99% of the world population. We also know you are tall and living in the Philippines, which must rule out at least 99% of the rest.

And now we know you're name is not Joe....seems like you're secret identity might not so secret any more.

Did I miss the point?

11:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Assuming a population of
6.5 Billion
you have SW in a group of 6500 people. Thats still fairly secret.

I guess we can also guess that SW name is not
Marco Westbet

10:35 am  
Blogger secret wombat said...

I don't know ANYONE from "Austraila"...


1:30 pm  
Blogger Lone Gopher said...

I cry with you SW. I'm too wimpy-looking so I only had "Hey Joe" shouted at me a couple of times, but I had the following conversation at least a hundred times.
"- Sir, wat is your nasionality?
- Eh, Swedish.(I'm from leaving, it's right next to gone)
- Swedis, ha?
(Uncomfortable silence while I try to get on with my business, and then)
- My sister/cousin/niece/whatever went to Belgium once
- Oh, really (Yeah, I have a brother who's been to Thailand, how's that)
- Yes in 1992.
- U-huh
- It think it was Antwerpen
- Aha
- What is your language?
- Swedish (it's Idontwannatalktoyouanymorean)
- swedis, ha
- Is it like German?
- A little maybe.
- My sister knows how to speak German
- Oh,really. That's nice, and very nice to meet you, but please, please, sod off."
And of course they're being nice and I'm being an asshole, but after the first 20 times you get fed up with it.

6:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear SW,
I fully understand how you feel but don't say fucking americans are fucking europeans, you fucking sheepfucker.

2:27 pm  
Blogger secret wombat said...

Anon, you misunderstand (though I admit I wasn't clear). By "Europeans" I meant people of European descent. My apologies.

2:35 pm  

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