Mad Scientess Jane Expat
The bloke & I always open up our stocking presents when we first wake up in the morning. These are little cheap things for the most part - chocolates, brazil nuts (for him), dried mango (for me), tinned fish (for him), etc - that allow us to give one another large quantities of delicious things without spending a fortune.
This year, he went to the big East Asian food shop on Mill Road in Cambridge to get me some of my stocking presents (water chestnuts and bamboo shoots!). He also got me fish sauce. But he couldn't get the one he wanted because of the following encounter.
Bloke toddles up to counter with laden basket. Elderly Chinese Lady (ECL) who is clearly the driving force behind the shop gives him assessing stare, whips item out of basket.
ECL: "Do you know what this is?"
Bloke: "Er, gourami fish sauce?"
ECL: "What you making with it? Do you know what this is?"
Bloke: "Um, a Christmas present?"
ECL: *shakes head* "Much too strong. You take this back."
Bloke goes to the back of the shop and is shouted at until he selects a milder fish sauce that ECL deems suitable.
ECL: "You give this."
Thoroughly Cowed Bloke: "Yes ma'am."
While the bloke was busy being deemed too white for strong fish sauce, I was attempting to buy booze. The woman behind the counter at the supermarket gave me an assessing stare and demanded my ID.
I gawped at her for a second, wondering how she had managed to miss the grey hairs whose population daily increases. Once I'd realised she was serious, I started fishing through my wallet. As I fumbled around for my California driving licence, which has seen very little use since I first arrived in the UK except as a curio to be shown round at parties, the woman behind me leaned forward.
"Excuse me," she said, "but if you're asking for ID, I'm going to have to go outside and get mine from the car."
The cashier looked at her. "No, you're fine."
This young lady was at least five years younger than I am. She had a very hip asymmetric blonde bob and a fresh, makeup-free face with clear skin. She gasped. "I'm offended! No, just kidding."
But she really, really wasn't. I handed over my ID, which the cashier spent ages inspecing because she couldn't find my birthdate. Then she read it out for everyone's enjoyment. The blonde woman's fury was almost palpable. If eyes could flay, I would have been skinless.
I'm grateful to have escaped intact and now to be sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and shamelessly neglecting my sous-chef duties while the bloke bustles around chopping veg. And with that, I should probably go and help him before he pulls my Santa hat down around my ears.