Upon returning home from work yesterday I encountered my downstairs neighbor and her teenage daughter sitting on the ledge outside the front door to our multi-unit house. They only moved in around October and with our schedules, I hardly ever see them. Hear them, yes, but a physical sighting is rare.
In fact, the first time I met the entire family was when I returned home near midnight after a Halloween party dressed all in black, carrying a feather boa, hair spiky and sprayed silver, and with black rings painted a good two inches around my eyes. (In the interest of full disclosure, it was also Grandma, some cousins, and probably a handful of aunts and uncles too.) Needless to say, we don't have an intimate neighborly relationship. I probably know their maid best; I seem to run into her during the inexplicable weekly routine of mopping the driveway.
So, despite it being February, asking about each other's Christmases and vacations was acceptable conversation. After it was established that we both indeed had a pleasant end to 2010 and like spending time with family, the mother asked how my roommate was. This would have seemed a mundane question, except for the fact that I've lived alone the last two years in Colombia; I have no compañero.
At first I thought, despite the use of the masculine, that she was referring to the third occupants of the house - a woman and her university-aged daughter - whose door is next to mine on the third floor. No, she ascertained, as she looked to her own emphatically nodding daughter for reassurance, the other guy who lives with me. Finally believing me that there is no one coming and going from my apartment but me, she turned to her daughter, shrugged, and rationalized, "well, all you gringos look alike!"
I'm not sure how to take this as I always have thought of my hair color as setting me apart from the rest of my pale counterparts, but, as I climbed the stairs, I began to wonder if I looked dramatically different each time I left the house to create the impression that I was multiple people! I suppose I shouldn't put much thought into it seeing as how a woman who makes her maid wash places her car goes might not be that clever in the first place.