Watch for Ice

Language Boo-Boos

Tonight was wonderful. I spent the evening with Silke and her mother, Siegrid. Silke speaks English well, but her mother, visiting from Germany, does have a bit of trouble with the language. Since I don't know Silke's mother and I know I don't have a second chance to make a good impression, I'm being very careful not to say anything offensive. I avoid profanity, politics, religion, etc.

After a while, Silke asks me about my surgery. I mentioned that I am healing well, but in trying to clean the medical tape residue with nail polish remover, I managed to get some in the incision. Her mother understood enough to realize how painful this was and winced. Silke winced, too. Then she grinned and asked me why I had nail polish remover.

Trying to be on my best behavior lest I offend a complete stranger, I realized that strangling Silke was not an option. So I was honest. I sometimes hang out at goth/industrial clubs and sometimes, when I do this, I paint my fingernails black. No one in the clubs bats and eyelash but I didn't know how conservative her mother was. This was not something I had planned to bring up.

Regrettably, Siegrid appeared to be a little concerned about this. She frowned, knitted her brows and hastily started speaking to Silke in German. At this point, Silke also appeared confused. Apparently her mother wanted to know why I painted my nails to go golfing. She thought I said "golf clubs."

This, however, was not the best "oopsie" of the evening. It seems that when Silke first moved to our country, her English had a few gaps. When a friend of hers was applying for a job where she worked, the interviewing manager asked Silke what her friend was like. Silke's friend was a bit shy around people. Or perhaps reticent. Or nervous. Or any of a number of ways you could describe someone who's a bit anti-social. Silke couldn't think of any of these words. However, this educated member of the master race knew her Latin! Her friend was afraid of people. Fear is "phobia." Man is "homo."

"My friend is homophobic."

Her friend, needless to say, did not get the job.
  • Current Mood: amused amused
The last part of your story had me laughing hard. 12 years ago, a similar mishap led me to a first visit to a queer club. I knew my latin and greek and ended up making up a word that had my friend look at me funny but she took me exactly where I told her I wanted to go.

Oh dear!

I would have said I bought the polish remover specifically for the purpose ;0)
Too funny!!! My dad's best friend when I was growing up was married to a sweet German lady (boy was she a firecracker!) named Inge. She would say some of the weirdest things at times since her English was not the best. Her husband was a huge black guy (RIP) name Billie from New Orleans originally. He spoke not a lick of German yet she would chew his hide in German and he still would say, "yes dear" having not a clue what she was yelling at him about...it was a great thing to witness :)
Next time you need an excuse for nail polish remover, tell people you keep a bottle handy for miscellaneous things like removing paint from your hands, or things that are generally difficult to wash off with soap and water, e.g. bandage residue.

That's what I used it for when I was living at home. These days I just use rubbing alcohol, which is pretty much the same thing.

Better yet, just say "rubbing alcohol" in the future. :)