This past weekend I went to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant (Addis Ababa) in downtown Silver Spring. Every time I go I get asked "are you Ethiopian?" This is how the scene usually goes (and how it went on Saturday night). We entered a crowed restaurant, the hostess comes to me and says something in Amharic. I smile and say hello. She still doesn't get it, then says something else in Amharic pointing to two different tables. I choose one table, my friend says no choosing the other, we sit down. The waitress comes back smiling at me and saying hello to him politely. She gives us menus, I proceed to explain to him the food selection and he just says for me to order whatever is good. The waitress is standing behind him while he says all of this. I place the order, she smiles as I order him an Ethiopian Beer and myself Ethiopian Honey Wine. I think the waitress finally started to pick up on the fact that I was not responding to anyone in Amharic...hmmm.
My friend said the hostess and the other waitresses were taking bets on if I was Ethiopian or not. I said I know, it happens all of the time. It never fails, in DC it is pretty much assumed I am Ethiopian only ocassionally do I get Dominican (I'm not offended, it's kinda cool). Finally, my waitress comes and asks me "are you Ethiopian?" I say no. She looked a little shocked and disappointed. She walked away quickly and that was that. I didn't get anymore big smiles from her all night. sighhhhhhhh I didn't even have a chance to say my proud statement..."I'm in the process of adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia!" I love saying that!
My friend had a huge laugh, made lots of jokes, and said I better learn Amharic fast before I'm accused of not being proud of my heritage. I guess I better find an Amharic class in 2008!
*Sidebar: In my heritage research I found out that DNA from the Fulani tribe shares some of the same DNA from that of Ethiopians some more some less. Maybe when my daughter comes I'll get tested more to find out if we share similar DNAs.