While I'm not exactly your typical blond-haired, blue-eyed, dolly-looking person whose skin seems as if it might burst into flame after spending one minute too long in the sun, I'm generally pretty wasp-y looking.

But I do have this one peculiar characteristic: no matter where I go, people seem to think that I am whatever ethnicity they themselves are.

It really got out of hand when I lived in South America, where all the Uruguayans thought I was from Uruguay; all the Argentinians thought I was from Argentina; all the gringos from the East of the United States, assumed I was also from the East Coast, etc. It was the joke that on my birth certificate under "place of birth" it said, "where ever you were born".

This week, no less than six strangers either have pointedly asked me if I am from a Latin country or spoken to me directly in Spanish, assuming I would simply understand and speak back in the same language.

There's the guy in my neighborhood who, no matter how many times I've told him I'm from the States, says to me every time I see him and utter my un-trilled 'Rs', "Are you Dominican?" I can let that go because we're all pretty sure he's drunk about eighty percent of the time anyway.

This week there was the guy in the elevator who looked me in the eye and asked in English: "Espanish?"

Me: "Huh?"

Him: "Uespanish?"

Me: "...... um... excuse me?"

Him: "Es Latina usted?"

Me: "Ooooooooooooh..... no."

One guy came to the door of the house the other day selling Spanish Children's Bibles. He gave his whole schpiel (and if my use of that word doesn't prove I'm not Latina, I don't know what does) in Spanish, only thinking to ask "Oh, do you speak Spanish?" as an afterthought. I told him I spoke a little but not really, hoping to get out of the long philosophical discussion I was anticipating. He ignored that and went on extolling the virtues of the illustrations and how much my criatura ('little creature' - a phrase I've always loved) would enjoy them. I was on the verge of pulling ten bucks out of my purse when I realized, hey my criatura doesn't read... and she definitely doesn't read in Spanish.

What's more interesting, and probably less understandable, instead of telling them "I only really speak a little bit of Spanish anymore, it's been a long time", I simply answer in Spanish. I haven't lived in a Spanish-speaking area for more than ten years and my language is pret-ty rusty, to say the least.... like Can't Even Really Follow Sabado Gigante Anymore Rusty (but to be fair, I doubt native speakers can follow that show). But I still feel it necessary to attempt to carry on conversations in Spanish whenever given the chance and when someone asks me if I speak the language, I'm compelled to answer "yes" and attempt to have a conversation, even if I'm pretty sure that I'll miss every fifth word.

Maybe I'll just get one of these instead.