For example, just yesterday we were discussing the fate of Crimea. "Who lives in Crimea anyway?" she asked me, knowing that, while she owns the PhD in the relationship, I am the partner who is most crammed full of a arcane, useless knowledge that no one will ever pay me a dime for acquiring.
"Well, the Russians do now," I replied. "But before it was the Tatars. Stalin deported them to Siberia because he didn't trust them, and replaced them with Russians he didn't trust to be near him. Frankly, the guy had trust issues. A lot of meglomaniacal mass murderers do."
This is be mostly true, I think, although if I were asked to footnote it, I would give my usual reference, which is "Something I read somewhere a while back." Then I made the admission that turned the conversation all wrong, which was "I don't really know whether the word is pronounced TAH-TERS or TAY-TERS.
A sick gleam shimmered in my girl's eye. "I like TAY-TERS," she said. "Then you could call their children..."
I knew where she was going. "Tatar tots," I mumbled ashamedly.
"And the Russians?"
"Tatar haters, of course."
"People who make fun of them?"
"When they bring you food, you call them?"
"Tatar waiters. Please stop."
"Not until you get one wrong. If you marry one, you're a..."
"If you come across a Tatar who is the most miserable, despicable lowlife among the whole clan of Tatars, what do you call him?"
I was stumped. "I don't know," I admitted.
"LOWEST COMMON DENOMITATAR!" she howled, and went off cackling into the yard.
I felt extremely troubled by the entire conversation. Who were we to malign this ancient, long-suffering, lost tribe, who once aligned themselves with the descendants of Genghis Khan and kicked tail all over Central Asia, which my ancestors were certainly too shy to do? No one deserves being made fun of just because their name sounds funny in English. Ask the Hottentots, the Gullahs, the Weegers or the Tutsis. Or anyone who lives around Lake Titicaca.
And now Dictionary.com tells me that they are, in fact, the TAH-TERS. Never mind.