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Woman's curiosity about ethnic appearance leads to interesting exchange

My husband, Patrick, and I at a wedding on Saturday, July 21, 2012.
Photo by: Erin Newstrom

Marrying into a different culture can bring excitement and challenges alike into a relationship. From the different foods and customs, to the mother-in-law asking your husband when he’s going to take a second wife (yes, this happened), such instances continue to remind you that your marriage is in fact – special.

My husband, Patrick, and I have experienced many of these instances since we were married nearly six years ago. And though his mom still doesn’t quite comprehend why he wouldn’t take a second wife, especially since I don’t cook, I can’t help but laugh thinking of the vast differences between Patrick’s upbringing in Uganda, Africa, compared to my own in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The most recent reminder came last weekend at my friend’s wedding when a woman approached Patrick with the most awe-struck look I may have ever seen. “I’m sorry,” she began to say. “I’ve been watching you for two days, (we were also at the rehearsal dinner the night before) and I just had to come tell you that you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.”

Though I can’t comment on Patrick’s initial reaction, my own was one mixed of shock and surprise. She continued on to repeat the comment and apologize for her honesty. Attempting to help my then speechless husband, I said, “That’s okay, Patrick always appreciates honesty.” Looking back, I now know that didn’t help at all.

Among other questions, she also asked, “I don’t want to sound stupid, but why is it that you look so different from other,” she paused and looked at me, her eyes seeking help and understanding. “Black people,” I added. “Yes,” she said, seemingly excited that I understood her confusion.

Patrick, still a bit stunned, looked at me, so I responded the best I knew how – that he, unlike African Americans, recently came from Africa, thus making him African. I couldn’t help but laugh at the whole situation. I asked the woman where she was from and understood her curiosity a bit more when she responded, “Iowa.”

The conversation about Patrick’s overall beauty continued for nearly 10 minutes and included the woman commenting on the incredible shape of his head, his perfectly sculpted bone structure and finally, her recommendation that Patrick and I birth many, many children.

While I of course agree that my husband is handsome, I’ve never seen such a genuine interest and excitement over someone’s unique ethnic appearance. Poor Patrick. It’s hard being pretty.


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