So I was sitting at a table talking with three gentlemen I’d just met. They were – like me – originally from North America (Canada and the U.S.) but – unlike me – they’d all put down roots in Taiwan. The conversation drifted through topics like U.S. politics, work, and family. One of the men had a two-year-old boy and was expecting another child. These men were all friends and so one of them recounted the joke he’d made to the expectant father when he first heard the news: “Way to get it past the goalie!”

I didn’t get the joke and said so.

They stared dumbfounded. I explained further: “Like, who’s the goalie? The…”

“You can say it. We’re all adults here.”

“The fallopian tubes want sperm, right? The uterus wants to have a fertilized egg. Well, except during menstruation.” I mean, I know it’s not an easy journey for sperm, but come on, human vaginas are not geese vaginas. Also, the idea that reproduction is like a game and you score if you sneak your sperm into the egg against the will of the goalie (the woman?) just seems very rapey.

“It was just a joke.”

“Okay,” I said, and proceeded to spend the rest of the conversations mostly quiet, observing and analyzing. These people were not my motherwit. I first heard that term during an interview for my podcast. Andrew described it as the people around whom you can be completely yourself, completely at ease. You don’t have to justify yourself to your motherwit. They get you.

These guys did not get me. Nor did I get them. Did I want to? I don’t know, but I’ve realized when I’m in less than comfortable situations I tend to do a lot observation and analysis.

“Nah, birth control, it messes with their bodies and shit. Makes their hormones go crazy.”

“I want you to hire the oldest, ugliests, hardest working girl so I’m not distracted.”

“Bitches be crazy.”

“Dave Chapelle says ‘nigger’.”

You’re being offensive. I hate that. If I say something offensive, just say something back. I dish it, I can take it.”

A smattering of some of the things I heard while being a passive observer. In the moment, I could’ve and maybe should’ve presented some sort of rebuttal, introduced some nuance, to these statements. But it seemed futile to me. I was in a state of observation.

You may find yourself on the other side of the world. You may find yourself in conversation with a few bros. And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

As a youth, I think I tried to adapt myself to many situations. I was like a chameleon. Maybe a good strategy to survive teenagedom, but when you’re constantly changing your colors it’s hard to know who you are. It’s weird it’s taken me 24 years to realize I don’t have to like everyone I meet. These guys weren’t bad or mean, they just weren’t my style. There’s nothing wrong with that. They have every right to live their lives the way they choose just as I live mine the way I want. And by realizing this – that it’s alright not to try to fit in everywhere – I think it’s easier to find spaces where my innate colors do not clash with those around me.

And so these ideas were reinforced through my observations on a Saturday night conversation.

“Chameleon” by Bumble-A-Bee via Deviant Art.