During last night’s walk, while Google Maps led me to a dark alley behind a massage parlor instead of to the restaurant I’d plugged in, I tried to suss out examples of my own implicit bias. It’s an exercise I do sometimes in order to weed out anything harmful I might accidentally be doing to the impressionables. It’s usually kicked off by some thought I’m horrified to have, like when I was strolling the beach at sunset and couldn’t find a straight line because of the sheer amount of women leaping over the waves and into the horizen.
They never made it on the first try, and as their companions trained the cameras from 15 or so feet away- I should probably measure in meters here- they’d jump over and over and over, with a studied smile and the infinite patience of the obsessive Instagrammer.
“Asians,” I thought, as I wove my way through the lenses, “take entirely too many photographs.”
“Oh, no!” was my immediate reaction. “Alert! Alert! You are making a gross generalization!”
And then I rode that thought train to its terminus. What else did I kind of secretly think of people, and exactly how might that manifest itself unfairly?
“Australians,” I discovered I imagined as I listed groups of people, taking note of whatever impressions came to me, “have an inflated sense of the importance of their own volume. Same can be said for Americans. Jewish people are surprisingly unreligious. South Americans (of which I know one- no, two) are genuinely pleasant, but with a ‘sexy and I know it’ twist of attitude.”
I like to think of myself as an equal opportunity humanist, but clearly I have some work to do.
I’m not alone in this. The restaurant at which I eventually found myself ended up serving me the fourth bland green curry- with cauliflower and other western veggies- in as many days, and I was chagrined. It was good. Just not, you know, CURRY.
See, four years ago, during that fateful trip when the monkey chomped me and I almost Thai-died (exaggeration legitimatized by use of hilarious “Thai-die” construction) I fell madly in lust with the food here. In Bangkok in 2014, I had a curry so spicy and delicious that I cried and took to my bed. It was amazing. Transcendental. One of the reasons I chose to finish my abroad-ness in this country.
After last night’s meal, though, I was rather unattractively pouty. I was nice, mind you- kindness is magic- but when the sweet lady working asked me how it was,
“I actually like it really spicy- Thai spicy,” I said.
“Oh! You look western, so… I give you that. Come back tomorrow. We do curry spice.”
Gah! Her bias about western culinary standards o’ blah had hit me right where it hurts: in the t-buds.
Nevertheless, we grinned at each other and I agreed to return posthaste.
Tonight’s sunset walk was top form. I had had a good work day and was all inspired, plus Ray was doing his “Best in Show” routine o’er the surfers.
I didn’t get lost in any scary alleys, and I knew that the sidewalk tables of the Zugar Bar were about half a block past these weird street toilets.
And when I arrived? Score. A zapping curry made its way to my placemat and the only delicious vegetable I recognized was baby corn. “Girl, I want to make you sweat” was pumping through the thick evening air, and I followed its directions as I ate.
“Asians make the best food in the entire world,” I thought, somewhat biased.
This time, however, I didn’t bother to kick myself.