I enjoy living in Asia, but my white face, big nose and facial hair make me stand out. I’m used to getting stared at in China, and it doesn’t bother me anymore, but the knowledge that someone is probably always looking at me can be inconvenient. If my nose itches, for example, can I safely scratch it without some stranger thinking that I’m picking my nose? When I have to buy toilet paper, will people notice what brand I buy and speculate about my hygiene habits? How much will people read into the fact that I buy this brand of cola instead of that brand? It gets a little tedious.
Back in the U.S., though, I blend right in. My wife and I went grocery shopping the other day, and the only reason that we received some second glances was probably because we were talking to each other in Chinese. I selected my fresh blueberries, browsed the wine selection, loaded my purchases into the car, and didn’t get stared at once. Bliss!
How celebrities and public figures deal with the lack of privacy every day is a mystery to me. If I couldn’t enjoy a little anonymity in the U.S., I’d probably go crazy.