I was happily eating ice-creams at a beachside café with my husband and two children, when I noticed her. Or, rather, she noticed me.
There was a woman who kept staring at me and my family, and I was starting to feel uncomfortable.
She was sitting at the table next to us, and it looked like she was there with her husband, son and daughter-in-law. She was around my mother’s age, and of Caucasian appearance.
Everyone at her table was laughing loudly and telling stories, but she was almost completely turned around in her seat, with her back to her family, so that she could stare at us. She kept smiling, too, but the strange thing was that when I smiled back or tried to start a conversation, she didn’t respond. Her eyes were mostly fixed on my three-year-old daughter, who was ignoring her and blissfully licking her ice-cream.
“That lady keeps staring at us,” I whispered to my husband.
“I know,” he confided. “It’s weird.”
We stayed at the café for around half an hour (eating an ice-cream is a serious business when you’re three), and the staring was constant.
I couldn’t figure it out, until I started to stare back myself. Her son was white, like my husband. And her daughter-in-law was Asian, like me. In the rare moments that the woman turned away from us, she was looking back and forth at her son and daughter-in-law.
“Ah,” I thought. “I’m her Asian prototype.”