Stop saying, "Your English is great!"

Last night around 7:00, every restaurant in Wrigleyville had a 90-minute wait because the neighborhood was all hit at once with Billy Joel concert revelers. I guess old white people music (hi!) and Persian food don't go hand in hand because for whatever reason, Raw Bar got us a table in ten minutes. We had to sit by a giant fish statue and the fire exit, but good wine and tapas make those kind of problems go away. After our meal on the way out, two guys thanked Niko.

"Thanks so much," one meat head said.

"Everything was great!" said another, to my husband, who does not work at Raw Bar.

When we walked onto the street, I asked him what that was all about. "Oh, I have black hair, so they thought I worked there because no way could I just be eating dinner at an ethnic restaurant."

This is a situation my husband, who is half Greek and looks every inch of it, deals with every day. Being thanked at ethnic restaurants is like putting on a sweater to him. Apparently someone at his office looked at our family portrait - three blonde girls and an American wife - and expressed surprise. "That is not what I was expecting!" If one person said it, a dozen are thinking it. What, Greek guys can only go with Greek girls? This ain't Animal House.

Niko happens to have a voice fit for radio, yet people say crazy things to him like, "your English is great!". Yeah, maybe because he's from Evanston. I had an internet troll (are there other kinds?) once say I was married to a terrorist because he's from "the middle east". No more going to Northwestern games or watching Home Alone, guys. Don't let the terrorists win. Gihad on Central Street!

A friend of mine who happens to be black told me he gets really sick of people telling him, "you're so articulate" like they were expecting something else. Every black person using normal sentence structure is "articulate". Suspicious. No one has ever said I am especially articulate and I was a DJ on a jazz radio station. Oh that's right. I'm a white lady.

Unless someone honestly has a golden voice, you complimenting them on their articulation or their amazing grasp of English is just another way of saying, "I'm surprised you're educated" or worse, "I thought all you people were stupid".

Next time I hear some Nickleback fan thank my husband for the great dinner he did not serve them, I'll tell them comb-forward haircuts are not in style any more and assuming every guy with olive skin is a bar back is pretty tiny-brained thinking. Then I'll say, "you're welcome".

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