Monday, October 25, 2010

Oriental, NC

My surprise birthday brownie may belie it, but I turned 33. 

I spent my birthday a few days ago in a friendly town called Oriental, NC. It was a very pleasant town, and we ran into a whole bunch of fellow cruisers we've met along the way. There were plenty of jarring moments, though, as I walked around, for every other billboard or store sign has the word Oriental in it.

See, starting from when I was in high school, the word "oriental" became a big no-no. "Oriental" was an adjective to be used to describe objects from "the Orient" (which, confusingly in British English, included pretty much everything east of Europe) like vases or rugs, not people. I cringed if someone said, "My son married an Oriental." As people started using the term "Asian" to describe people from Asian countries, anyone who used "Oriental" to refer to an Asian person was obviously either really old (too old to get with the PC program), lived nowhere near Asian people, or was racist. 

Thing is, there is nothing Oriental, or Asian, or east of European, about Oriental, NC or any of the establishments there! Weird and a little hilarious! (Why the name Oriental then? Apparently, the town was originally Smith Creek, but was renamed after the USS Oriental shipwreck nearby in 1899. Perhaps the ship was headed East?) I turned off the PC-radar, which was going haywire.

I went to get a haircut at the local salon Studio 55 and fell to chatting with my hairdresser, the septuagenarian customer next to me, her hairdresser, and the nails and facial lady, too, who was, by the way, the only Asian I've seen in NC so far. We talked about hair, bronzing a pair of 15-year old boots, cruising, and teeth.

Septuagenarian Catherine: "I may be old, but I have perfect teeth. My dentist asked me the other day if I'd been drinking tea again."

Her stylist, Mary: "What? Tell me, 'Am I a Southern woman?'!"

My haircut, which you can see in the picture above, cost me just $18 plus tip.

After Oriental, we moved on to Morehead City, just across from Beaufort, then on to a beautiful anchorage in the Marine base Camp Lejeune. Now we are in Masonboro, just outside Wilmington, NC, for a few days before going into South Carolina. Here are some recent pics:

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