Cool Cucumber

In my first paid photo gig involving travel ever, I headed down to Pebble Beach, Monterey. If you are an avid golf fan you will know that Pebble Beach is often the home to the US Open. The golf significance of the place only dawned on me when I passed closed off areas with signs indicating set up for the US Open was in progress. A certain well known fruit company hired me to do some event photography at a conference. How did I land this gig? It's all in the referrals. Craigslist >> Fruit Company exec mom who wants baby pics >> Fruit Company HR mom who wants family pics >> HR looking for natural looking head shots >> might as well hire me for the conference too.

The post-dinner comedian was having a hard time getting audience response.  I stood off the the side of the stage with my camera, feeling sorry for him, when he suddenly turned his attention to me, and consequently 50 pairs of executive eyes - I mean, THE people in charge of bringing fruit and veggies in convenient packages to your local supermarket - all swiveled towards me. Great.
He said: Oh this reminds me of home. I've got some Chinese folks around all the time. My wife's family is from China.
(Oh no. Don't display your ignorance! I could sense it coming and sent silent Don't Say It! vibes)
He continued: Is that where you're from?
(Sigh) I said: I was born in Los Angeles.

Apparently this was funny to the audience, everyone laughed - to my relief, but I was also mortified, both to be put on the spot, AND to be dealing with issues of cultural identity. But I did my best Cool Cucumber act. Are there not enough dealings with this on everyday TV? If there's Any Asian American character, they are at some point assumed to be from Asia, and then with much exasperation they explain they are American and was born in Phoenix/ Cleveland/ Boise. And yes, while I did spend my formative years in Hong Kong, I would never say that I Am From China. My Ancestors are from China, I am ethnically Chinese - maybe these are little differences that aren't a big deal to others. Anyways, Rarely do I have to deal with cultural identity during a photo gig. But there you go. Anything can happen!