Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Monday, April 18

Maps and Legends

So I am having dinner with a married couple the other night.

The husband talked about living in Guam for a year and a half. I’m a bit surprised, because he is the second person this month I’ve met from Guam. He says that he lived there before it became commercialized.

‘I didn’t realize it had,’ I say.

‘Oh yeah,’ he continues, ‘back when I lived there, it had a McDonalds, a KFC, a Tony Roma’s, and that’s it. Well, some Philippines had an Indian restaurant. And some people from Guam ran a Mexican place.’

I think he said ‘people from Guam,’ because I don’t know what to call them, and I think, if he’d said ‘Guamans’ I would have thought he was doing baby-talk for ‘Romans’ or thought he was saying ‘grommets,’ which would have confused me.

(Correct answer: Guamanian)

He continues, ‘Now, it’s the Hawaii for the Japanese.’

‘I thought Hawaii was the Hawaii for the Japanese,’ I say. Not to be confrontational, just to make conversation.

‘No,’ he says ‘because Guam is so much closer to Japan.’

‘How does that work?’ I ask, again deferring to him. ‘Isn’t Guam south of Hawaii? Is it that much further west?’

He talks for a while longer, revealing that he knows flight times, but apparently didn’t look at a map for a year and a half to figure out where he was.

(Correct answer: It really is that much further west. It is practically due south of Tokyo. It is much closer to Japan than Hawaii and receives over a million Japanese tourists every year.)

A while later, the wife says that the waitress reminds her of someone. ‘Do you know who Laurie Metcalf is? From The Rosanne Show?’

I confirm that I do. I don’t say it, but the waitress doesn’t bear much resemblance to her.

‘Kind of plain looking, you know what I mean?’ she says, scrunching her nose. ‘She’s on E.R. now. I watch her every week. I love her so much.’

I just happened to watch ten minutes of E.R. that week for the first time in about three or four years and was surprised to see, from Rosanne, Sara Gilbert. Now, I suppose it’s possible that they hired both Sara Gilbert and Laurie Metcalf, but feel sure that she has the wrong name of this actress she loves so much.

(If both are now on E.R., please someone let me know.)

I think about asking if Laurie Metcalf is related to Melissa Gilbert from Little House on the Prarie, but decide against it. I keep my mouth shut, realizing that I have become the conversational equivalent of the guy who yells at kids to stay out of his yard. Who cares about Sara Gilbert’s name or Guam’s location? I don’t.

Technically, the Guam comment was accurate. My annoyance was that he didn’t know where he had spent eighteen months of his life. How could you be in the South Pacific for eighteen months and never check a map?

My mother is the master of tolerating people who are babbling about subjects they don’t understand, smiling and saying ‘really?’ as her eyes subtly glaze over. I am still trying to learn how to do that trick.

(But Truth is the new black.)


Blogger dan writes:

I wish you would've asked her about Melissa Gilbert. Sure, you had to go and take the mature way out and keep your trap shut.

I was on vacation last year and we met some young elementary school teachers at dinner one night. One of them asked me where I was from. I said ,"Minneapolis." She said, "Where's that?" Not that Minneapolis is the most recognizable city in the world, but she teaches sixth graders for chrissakes.


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