Thursday, October 26, 2006

Me and My Peeps

One of the things I like to do is get a mani/pedi. I got on the mani/pedi boat some time around 2001 and haven't looked back. I like getting my nails done, yes I do.

But since we moved to LA, I barely ever go. And frankly it's because almost all of the nail people in LA are Vietnamese. It pains me to say it, but that's why.

So let's explore this. When I go for a mani/pedi, I don't want to talk. This also goes for other services, like getting a haircut, massage, facial. I just want to sit and veg. In NY, most of the nail folks were Korean or Latino, so it was easy peasy. They didn't talk to me, I didn't talk to them. But whenever I get my nails done by a Vietnamese person, I always end up having a conversation, and it's always the same.
"Are you Chinese? No? Vietnamese? Really? You don't look Vietnamese ... You born here? How long have you been here? ... You have any brothers or sisters? No? Only child? Oh, your parents must really love you ... Where do you live? Are you married? Is your husband Vietnamese?"
I feel like a total bitch complaining about this. They're just trying to make conversation and they're almost always nice. I get it. But I just want to relax. Mind you, sometimes this entire conversation takes place in Vietnamese, which makes it even more less relaxing. And of course, I can't tune them out when they talk to each other because I want to hear what they're saying about other people (and possibly about me).

Digging deeper, I don't think this is solely about me wanting to veg out. On some level, I think Vietnamese people (my family excluded) may make me uncomfortable. Proud Vietnamese that I am, when it comes to dealing with them, one on one, I feel out of my element. The language is an issue, no doubt. My Vietnamese is pretty good considering I've been here almost my whole life, but speaking to strangers makes me nervous. Maybe it's a fear of being judged or something. Maybe it's the thick American accent that I'm sure I have. It all makes me feel very Americanized, and I don't like feeling that way.

3 comments:

creative-Type Dad (Tony) said...

I think most people get these kinds of questions when services that take time are being done. I know I use to get them from hair-cut people. Maybe they're just trying to make small talk.

Or they can't wait to tell their friends later at how odd you were. I enjoy that part.

junebee said...

I read about one hair-cutting chain that the stylists are required to be chatty with the customers.

I always wondered why Vietnamese have gravitated toward the nail care industry.

I think when one gets a personal service like that, as you said, you just want to relax. You don't want to chit-chat all day with people you barely know. At the dental office I go to, the hygenists are WAY too chatty. I just want to get it over with.

Anonymous said...

That's pretty interesting - I was sort of like that as a kid. Besides my family and some cousins, I didn't know any Vietnamese kids. Of course, we were the only ones in the neighborhood too, but even when I headed off to college, I never got into the whole VSA thing.

I think I spoke to one Vietnamese person, twice, the whole of my college experience. I was hanging more with the Chinese/HK kids.

Funny bit is that now, in the past 3 years or so, I'm relatively active in the Vietnamese non-profit community and recently decided to move my arse to Vietnam.

Btw, got to your blog from a link thru Herding Cats, which came via Vietnamese God.