One Unusual Story At IHOP

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So yesterday morning my wife and baby go to eat breakfast at IHOP before I have to start working for the day.  We sit down at a booth and start to order drinks and our usual breakfasts.  I do love IHOP pancakes and I always get the Sampler and split the scrambled eggs and hashbrowns with my little one.

A lone gentlement probably somewhere between 55 and 65 years of age sitting just behind us in a booth decides to engage us in conversation out of the blue.  The man first inquires about the toy Woody doll that my baby carries around, he claims he has seen that doll somewhere but couldn’t place it.  I informed him it was the Toy Story Woody Doll and that jogged his memory.

The man proceeded to say that the usually doesn’t talk to strangers but there is something about us that makes him feel old.  He said he had six kids the oldest being thirty five and the youngest being eleven years old.  He also apologizes for wasting our time and talking to us and said he would “shut up now”.

The odd fellow just kept engaging us in conversation throughout our entire meal however, at first it was polite and friendly questions.  When he asked my wife how old she was, I was a little disturbed, point blank asking a woman her age is not proper etiquette and can be downright rude.  I know he was doing it to illustrate that we were “babies” compared to him, but it was still rude.

When he found out that I was from New York the conversation turned weirder still.  He asked if I was an Italiano, not Italian clearly defining the stereotype difference.  I politely joked with him about it, and then he took a phone conversation with someone and once again I overheard him joking about if another family member was Italiano, then he told the person he was talking to on the phone that he met some nice people and one of them was a New Yorker, and also an Italiano.

I have been stereotyped before but was kind of odd, in the thirteen years I have been living in Arizona less and less people seemed to stereotype me as a New York Italian, but today was a throwback I guess.  He might as well called me a mobster and a greasy WOP.  Meanwhile my wife was shaking her head and kept giving me looks like “don’t encourage him”.  I told her that if my skin was dark he would have asked “Are you part black?”

I joked with her and said that if I told him I was 1/2 Jewish do you think it would help or hurt my case?  Seriously, whats up with the stereotyping.  Not all Italians from New York are Mafia wannabe’s who just talk trash and are up to no good scams… wait, hmmm so many are no wonder why there is this stereotype.

That is my funny story folks, the funny thing is these types of things happen to us all the time, weird strangers just talking to us out of the blue.  We had an old Native American woman in a shoe store, she was so ancient that her hands were like parched leather, she had a wise elder look about her.  When our first baby was only a few months old she had walked over and touched the baby’s foot and said some words in a dialect I can’t understand.  Smiling we can only assume she said some sort of shamanistic blessing to our baby, that is what we joke anyways.

-Justin Germino

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Updated: December 10, 2008 — 10:45 am