In college one of my favorite professors was my Spanish professor. I minored in Spanish so I had several classes with him throughout my time in college. He was from Spain and was just a stereotypical Spaniard in so many delightful ways. He brought the European approach to class and was much more laid back compared to US professors. He would get very homesick for Spain from time to time and we would have events outside of class related to Spanish culture. Sometimes he and a few other professors from the Spanish department, along with a group of students would go Latin dancing at a local Mexican restaurant for their salsa night. It was always lively and full of homesick student and professor expats. Between classes and off campus events, I felt like I’d had good interactions with him over the years and we had developed a positive student/teacher relationship.
Towards the end of my senior year, during one of our Spanish conversation classes, he casually mentioned in class discussion how I was always high in class. I was appalled. I felt I worked hard in his classes and I had earned his respect with my level of Spanish and as a serious student. I got good grades in his classes and I enjoyed having him as a professor. I also felt like we had spent enough time together that he would know me better than that. Our school was known for being very liberal, located in a smaller college town that is notorious for having a hippie, laid back counter cultural vibe. At the time I was in school, legalizing marijuana was something that wasn’t remotely taken seriously and it would be years before we started to see things like the law changes in Colorado and elsewhere at the state level. Weed smoking was really common and accepted around town, making the city a bit unusual at the time. That was not my thing. I was in college to get a degree, not to mess around. I was so annoyed, insulted, and irritated that my beloved professor thought I was stoned all the time. I felt like all my hard work was reduced to an incorrect stereotype based on my appearance.
My sister’s post last week about sleepy eyes got me thinking about people who misinterpret our BPES as us being high. This drives me nuts! I get so annoyed when from my perspective I feel it is very obvious based on our actions, environment, and behaviors that we are clearly NOT high from smoking weed. I think, how could this person be so stupid to think I was high? So many times in our lives, we have been mistaken for being Asian based on our BPES. It doesn’t happen as often, but we do get mistaken for people who are high all the time. I find it laughable, insulting, and just a little ridiculous. Writing this post, my heart sinks a bit as I dig up memories of my Spanish professor’s side comment. I still think back fondly on this professor, but his one comment so many years ago clearly left its mark on my psyche. ¡Que lástima!