It wasn't so long ago when my date and I nervously and awkwardly exchanged hugs in a dimly lit bar, grabbing seats at a table smiling at one another.
My date wasn't from “around here” and I knew that, but I figured I'd play it up. “You're from that place with all the foreign ladies,” I bellowed. “You know, Brooklyn.” She didn't laugh, no chuckling; she raised her eye brow and with the cutest accent ever, she replied: “I'm from Auckland, and I'm pretty sure you knew that.” So much for trying to be playful.
From that date, we've been together for five years, and we are engaged. I still remember that first date fondly. Janice was the first woman of foreign descent I ever dated. Not a big deal or anything, but dating her has been different. And I've noticed some things that kind of blow my mind.
Family in two countries
Yes, that's every bit as cool as it sounds. If you haven't had this pleasure, that part is rather significant. “Oh, yeah, sorry guys, I can't make your dinner because I'm too busy traveling halfway around the world with my girlfriend to visit some family. Yeah, I know. I'm cool. But, hey, enjoy those failure empanadas.
Cultural differences are a thing…
Okay, folks from New Zealand, or Kiwis as they affectionately refer to themselves, aren't super different from us jolly American folk. The thing I notice is that most of the socialization tend to happen around food. Picnics or outdoor BBQs are par for the course there. Also, even though Kiwis are generally friendly, and the folks in my lover's family were cordial and chatty but didn't really get deep into conversation. That is, they were open, but to a point. I was told that that one family member observed, “Is your mate always so fucking nosy?” Eek! You can be inquisitive, just don't prod too deeply.
Catching on to the lingo
While not as bad as the Brits, Kiwis have a “lingo” to learn. “Bit of a dag, are ya?” Wut? That loosely means, “you're a funny guy.” When I was asking about my privacy no-no with cousin Carl, I was told “Oh, don't mind Carl, he had a hard week at the office and was just ‘brassed off.'” Brassed off? He was just in a shitty mood it turns out. Pop-pop (grandpa), is often seen wearing “bracers” aka suspenders. Janice's dad has a favorite baseball player. He's a “big fan of that cackhanded fellow, for the Dodgers.” “What's that,” I ask? “The cackhanded guy, Clayton Kershaw.” Cackhand == Southpaw or left-hander.
Everyone wants to guess where your lover is from. And they're always fucking wrong.
“You must be from England.” Nope, fuck off. “Oh, your girlfriend has such a great accent! When did she move from the UK?” Not from the UK, get the fuck out! “What's that accent you have? You're an Aussie, eh?” When that one comes up, I just step back and let my gal handle it. Normally she just brushes it off followed up with some sort of “shrimp on the barbie” retort. I wish people would just stop asking about it.
Ruining your foreign lover's taste is delicious
Veronica Mars? Great, great show! What about ‘Saved by the Bell?' A classic. ‘How to Catch a Predator?' Want to ruin your foreign lover's sensibilities? Just show them traditional American trash TV and watch their eyes glaze over as they cannot look away. This is cultural immersion, subversion, and perversion at its finest.