Electro-convulsive therapy must be changing me.
A few hours ago, one of those awkward things happened where, by pure coincidence, I saw the guy who lives in A21, the apartment next to mine, several times in a few hours. I usually go weeks without seeing him at all. When we see each other, there’s usually little more interaction than a hello or an eyebrow raise and nod. In the 14 months or so that I’ve lived in the building, we’ve spoken less than 50 words to each other. Until today.
After running into him several times today, I guess he decided, what the hell – why don’t I ask him about adoption. He stops me on the front steps of our building and starts – “You’re a family of four now? Congratulations.”
Nice start, but this episode went real bad real quick. He proceeded to ask every inappropriate question you can pose to an adoptive parent. And when he wasn’t asking rude questions, he was spewing the most offensive bullshit I’ve heard in a long time. Most people let slip with just one wrong question or rude comment, and I strike back with a well-rehearsed, “Are you rude… or stupid?” But this guy was a pro. He had a routine.
“You’re kids are obviously adopted. What did you think of adoption?”
“Why did you adopt?”
“My wife and I, we considered adoption a long time ago, but – thank God – we had a child of our own. Which was good for us.”
“Oh, Korean? Is that what they are?”
“And what did you do? Did you ask for them, or say ‘Just give us what ya got’?”
“This is a great neighborhood for them. Great schools. And a lot of Koreans, too. In some neighborhoods they would stick out like a sore thumb.”
“It was a good idea to go to a foreign country, because in this country, it’s a mess. A lot of times the mother comes out of nowhere years later and wants the baby back.” (Years later? Baby?) "Any problem with that in Korea?"
“Why did you pick Korea?” This isn’t an inappropriate question, per se. My wife and I had our reasons and we don’t mind explaining them. It’s fine for friends and family to ask. But not the guy from next door whose name I don’t know. And when he learned that the Korean program places babies in families younger than many other country’s programs, he told me, “That’s good. Why should you have to break someone else’s bad habits. This way you can teach ‘em yourself, young.”
He then said something that a lot of people say, friends and strangers, after I describe the agency and the Korean program. And while it is not offensive or rude, it is incredibly stupid: “So, you guys did your research!”
No. It was kind of a half-assed plan we hatched one afternoon while drunk. We got the idea from Oprah! I don’t even remember how it worked, but here we are four years later with a couple East Asian kids in the house. Weird, huh?
I showed no outward anger during this little “conversation.” I can’t understand it. The Tommy Himself that I’ve known all my life would have reacted with either a hard punch to this guy’s throat, or at least a minute-long torrent of verbal assaults. I did nothing but tell him I’ll be letting him be on his way and said goodbye. I don’t get it. When I came upstairs, even my wife wanted to know why I didn’t let him have it. (Though I’m sure the meant a verbal attack.) I don’t really have a clever way to button this story up at the end here, I’m just writing this and trying to figure out why I didn’t feed this guy his own Adam’s Apple. I was telling myself that because he lives in the apartment next door, I might have let him off the hook for the reason that I don’t need a hassle with neighbors. But that sounds like rationalization. The fact is, the guy was stupid, insensitive, misinformed, offensive, and racist and I had him right in my sights and I did nothing to correct him. The more I walk among the animals, the more it breaks me down. I have failed myself. Again.
Postscript: My nextdouche neighbor also commented that our building is an expensive one, and presumably because my apartment is larger than his, "I don't even want to ask what you're paying!" Yes you do. You asked me the day I moved into the building, and you're nosing for an answer again today, 14 months later. Fuck off, grow a dick, get a life, and keep your goddamn questions out of my business.
[posted with ecto]