I’m quite uncomfortable admitting this but I’ve decided to do so to liberate myself of this trivial but embarrassing secret. Something about eating breakfast at diners or restaurants terrifies me. When I get there, I bother looking at the menu but know deep down that I already know what I want and yet find myself incapable of ordering it.
The delectable crepe.
Sadly, I’ve resigned myself to never ordering you for breakfast lest I hate myself forever.
You see I have this ‘sensitivity’ to the proper pronunciation of ‘crepe’. And by proper I mean the French way. After all, the word is French. Yes I am a purist in this sense. Sue me. While I am perfectly aware that it’s perfectly acceptable to also say ‘KRAPE’ (American) instead of ‘KREP’ (short ‘E’ sound; French), I am never sure other people are as accepting or as informed. It’s not that I want to correct people when they say ‘krape’, (though I admit the compulsion to do so is very strong considering that hearing it pronounced like that sounds to me like nails scratching a chalkboard). It’s more because I’m afraid of being ‘corrected’ by someone who does not know any better. For someone who’s not really assertive, but quite stubborn and set in her ways, the situation can get ugly and I want to avoid that at all cost. As it is, I hate being corrected. More so of course when I know I don’t need to be!
This fear is not imagined. Seven years ago, when I’ve just migrated to this country, I did order the crepe. I was brave, confident and hungry. The server was a young girl, asked what I wanted to have and I said ‘crepe’, the proper /French way (krep). She had a puzzled look at first, obviously trying to figure out what I had just said, until she realized it and said, “Oh…KRAPE!” And yes, she said it while looking at me condescendingly as if I was the one who mispronounced it; as if she was the only right one and I was the ignorant character who had a misinformed tongue. Maybe because I’m obviously the foreigner in this scenario? I don’t know. All I know is that I felt insulted by her look and her tone and regretted that I did not assert myself. I wanted so much to tell her, “Don’t give me that look, you idiot. You’re the one who’s making a mistake here!” Yes, it was a mean thought but trust me…She had a look that embarrassed me and I never forgot that incident, hence my continued avoidance of this wonderful dish when eating out. I acknowledge that I'll never know for sure what really went through that server's mind but as Dr. Phil (McGraw) always used to say, "There is no reality...only perception."
It’s tragic, I know. How can someone feel so defeated over something so trivial? And you might say, "Why be so affected by what one person might have thought about you?" It's so easy to think that when you are not the migrant, when you are not the one who feels self-conscious about having a slight accent or sticking out or being discriminated upon because you are not white. From my point of view, especially at the time, all I knew was that I was the one who was new to this country and did not feel any sense of entitlement whatsoever. I have just arrived, was not a citizen yet and really did not have the slightest sense of belonging. To top it all off, I am just naturally unassertive and non-adversarial. If she had explicitly and consciously insulted my intelligence or race, then certainly, I would’ve fought back. But given the situation, I did not deem it worth getting adversarial over. As I’ve said before, I don’t like making people feel ‘less’ and would really just generally give others the benefit of the doubt. I know the French way of saying it but am also aware that the ‘other’ way is acceptable. I was there to have a meal, not really to prove myself to someone insignificant in my life.
I knew it. And when you know better, you do better. You choose your battles. This is what I always try to remember.
Writing this makes me think of the crepe even more and I'm tired of making them myself. Maybe bananas foster style next time. Or maybe with spinach and bacon. I think it’s about time. Let me make a promise that next time, I WILL order the crepe and say it my way. I’ll make sure to update you on how it goes. Wish me luck!