On Being an Alien

It’s important to remember that aliens are not all from space. Or from Mexico, if you’re an Arizona politico.

The non-specificity of the term led to a co-worker at Business 1st taking offense at his residency status.

“I’m not an alien!” he complained. “I’m from India!”

I explained that Americans were linguistically lazy people, who had shortened the explicit phrase “space alien” to the generic “alien”. He wasn’t satisfied, but I distracted him with the subtleties of “cheesy”.

“So cheesy is bad?” he asked.

“Unless you like cheese,” I explained. “Then it’s good.”

He never asked me about language again.


What’s in a Name?

Yesterday, a coworker told me that she’d met a couple who were also named Frost. She beamed at me as though she’d handed me a birthday cake. I’m socially awkward under the best of circumstances, so when I’m in a situation I don’t understand I tend to fight or flee.

This puzzled me enough that I couldn’t react. I’m used to getting questions about my name — am I related to Robert Frost? Jack Frost? (No, …yes, dammit) — but this approach was unknown to me. It wasn’t a question, but clearly some manner of response was expected.

“Ah,” I said. This acknowledged the statement without inviting its own response. This always seems like a good approach, and it never works. What I’d like to convey is “please stop talking to me”, but I’ve found that I can’t say that. Not because it’s rude, but because it actually extends the conversation as I’m then expected to explain in detail why I don’t won’t to talk to the person. So, “ah”.

“I wondered if you were related,” she returned, and told me their names.

Ah, indeed. I was afraid that’s where we were going.

“I have no idea, and I don’t want to know if they are,” I told her. This was a bit rude, but I really needed to convey my disinterest in the subject.

“They’re really nice,” she informed me.

“Then we’re not related,” I quipped.

With that I went back to work.