In the popular television show Seinfeld,  “Bizarro World” was basically a situation that was flipped to the opposite of your expectations, or um, turned upside down in a very weird way from what you are used to. I sometimes think about Seinfeld’s Bizarro World while living here because we often involuntarily entrust all our decisions into the hands of people from a completely different world than us. So, in our own version of Seinfeld’s Bizarro World, people from western cultures cannot be vegetarian and are always Christian. In this world, women cannot possibly have had anything to do with the military, and in this world, if a woman is married, she is always called MRS. (insert surname here). Sound pretty specific? Think maybe any (ahem, or all) of these things have happened to me? Ding ding! You guessed correctly.

The other day in our Bizarro, I was at yoga in a housing complex clubhouse when a security guard came in and turned up the ceiling fans before we started the class. My friend, who was teaching, got up and turned a couple of the fans off and turned the remaining fans to their lowest setting. Halfway through our “warm-up,” the same guard enters and flicks on all the fans to full blast. This man clearly knew what we wanted better than we knew ourselves. For awhile now I’ve had this posting in the works, but this incident reminded me that I really needed to write it up.

Pictureif you're western...
1. No, Madam. You want this menu.

Now, I’m not a vegetarian but I used to fancy myself as one who dappled in vegetarianism/veganism. Here in Bizarro, there are sometimes completely veg restaurants, and the ones that are not will sometimes have veg and non-veg menus. More often than not, I’d rather eat veg (especially in Bizarro), so I will often order from the appropriate menu. There have been more than several instances at restaurants where I have ordered a vegetarian dish but the waiters (because in Bizarro world, women cannot hold jobs working as waitresses, obviously- only jobs requiring strenuous physical labor) have suggested I instead take a look at their non-veg menus, or even flat out told me, “No, Madam, you want this menu, not the veg menu.” Actually…I’m pretty sure I wanted the veg menu.

2. Don’t answer the “religion” question on your doctor’s office registration form (oh yes, they do ask!)? That’s okay! We’ll fill it out for you.  

First of all, I must have been feeling very argumentative on this particular day. After living in our Bizarro for 2 years, I would usually overlook something like this, but instead, I felt like all the injustices of the world were wrapped up and delivered in this one piece of administrative paperwork. So yes, they want to know your religion, and since you can just write it in, you could really write anything you want. Of course, I could have answered, but I felt defiant. Hey! It’s none of your business what my religion is. This sort of question would clearly NEVER be on a doctor’s office form back in my world. So, I just wrote N/A. After taking the form from me, the man who worked there typed it into a computer with a screen that faced me. I watched him as he contemplated what to select from the dropdown menu marked "Religion." He hesitated, but only for a second, before selecting “Christian.” That’s when I wanted to say “Hey, hey, wait a minute buddy. Maybe I'm Muslim” or “Actually, sir, I’m pastafarian,” or “Did it ever occur to you that I might be Hindu?” But… I refrained. And kept on refraining even as…

Picture Congratulations! You're now old!
3. I see you marked your preferred prefix as “Ms.” …but I see that you are married. Only one thing to do, must change it so that you sound like an old woman. Mrs. will do fine!

…He changed my preferred prefix from Ms. to Mrs. clearly because the box below was checked that I was married. If given the preference, I have never preferred to be called “Mrs. G” and would take Miss or Ms. over the M-R-S any day, even as a married woman. The thing that really irritated me was that I had CLEARLY marked MS. but he knew better. He knew that I was in fact a MRS. In Bizzaro world, strangers know what you like to be called more than you know.

Picture My place is serving my family...
4. Hmm, let me think. This t-shirt is very small, but… it is olive green colored AND it has dudes on it dressed in Army uniforms. I know that Sir is very large man, and Madam pretty small, but obviously, this tiny little Army t-shirt must belong to none other than Sir.

In the Bizarro, pretty much everyone has a maid (in addition to a driver, a gardener, a cook…etc.). We are not the exception. Our maid is awesome. She dusts, she mops, she washes our clothes. She also puts those clothes away. The clothes, of course, never end up where you’d like them. All my socks end up with R’s socks, sometimes my jeans are with his, and occasionally, my t-shirts (does a lot for my ego, you know, since R is about 75lbs heavier and a foot taller). There is one particular t-shirt that I own from a university ROTC program. While I understand how it can be shocking for her (and you know, to be fair, the t-shirt isn’t from the university I was enrolled in- so I can see how she could be confused), this Madam did, in fact, have some basic military training while in college. We won’t even mention that this t-shirt is about 4 sizes too small for R, but somehow it is always put away in his dresser drawers, usually at the very bottom of everything. I’m sure there could be an entire thesis written about this phenomenon- the shock and appalledness of women having anything to do with the military- but for now, I’ll have to remember that each time I want to wear it, I can find it with my husband’s shirts.

All these things, while strange and different to me, are still eye-opening, and most definitely a learning experience. They give me a little glimpse into a culture that is not my own, and while I cannot claim to understand it, I can certainly learn from it. And just like Elaine from Seinfeld, I can learn about my own world (and maybe make me appreciate it in a different light), my friendships, and how I choose to spend my time, by seeing through the eyes of others.