Riding in the car, my Italian friend is excited to tell me the joke he learned in English. Thrilled to hear how his English is going to do on this joke, I listen and try my hardest to understand. He begins…
“There are three people who shoot bow and arrow in forest…”
Now, allow me to interrupt and explain that in the context of this particular joke, my friend is trying to explain that the first person who shoots the bow and arrow, which is technically referred to as the archer, arrived. He, however, did not know the word archer. So instead, he says:
“There are three people who shoot bow and arrow in forest. The first boner arrived.”
I catch myself looking down at his pants in repulse. Then I realize he means Boner, as in short for bow and arrow shooter. Hey, I get the mistake. But my friend couldn’t get why I was laughing so hard before he even reached the punch line. Unsure if I should explain where he went wrong, I decide to just tell him.
“Well, dear, Boner is not the word for bow and arrow shooter.”
I place my fist on my jean zipper.
“Boner is this….” I say, punching out a firm index finger from my strategically placed hand.
His face drops, and I continue laughing. At least that’s the point of a joke, right?
These English mishaps have provided me much entertainment throughout my travel days. In Italy, my family showers their teeth, buys pain apple at the supermarket, and gives me supper glue to fix my broken bag. Supper glue? Are we gluing our dinner to the table this evening? But as a girl visiting many places where English isn’t the native language, I’ve kept note of these entertaining mishaps. Here’s my documentation:
Last year, my mom met me in Paris. Facebook chatting with one of my French friends, I told him I had to go because I was leaving with my mom. His response? “Okay! Do the happy with your mom!” Forgive me, but my mind only goes to one place when I think of doing the happy, and I don’t think mom is someone I would like to do it with.
Over in Deutchsland, I’m driving on the Autobahn with my good German friend. I ask if we can stop because I need to buy something. “Yes of course, Lauren. What do you need?” He says. “Well, tampons.” I say awkwardly. “Ah yes yes, right away we will stop to get your tampoons.”
From then on, I’ve stuck with the word tampoons. It’s just so much, well, better.
Back in Paris, I’m facebook chatting the same French friend, telling him I’m leaving for Christmas in three days. “No!” He says, “You have ruined my rear-end!” Confused, it takes me a moment to figure his mistype of the word year (rear) and his simplified word order of the end of my year.
In another part of the world, things were even more confusing when the Viet Nam bathroom sign read: Feman.
Back in Italy, from 8 to 4:30 my schedule reads: speare time. I suppose this is when I throw sticks with pointed metal tips? Or perhaps stab fish? Or maybe they mean spare time…ah, yes yes..spare time.
My Italian friends were also excited for Jenna, my sister in low, to come to Italy. But what about my sister in high?
Speaking of high, “You look high, Lauren.” Giovanni tells me. High?? But I didn’t smoke da green. Ohhhh my stilettos…tall..I look tall.
Of course, before a long journey in the car, we must always check the whales.
And on a less polite note, I make dinner, while Jacopo (the six year old I watch) goes to make poop. And bedtime, you ask? Jacopo usually goes bad around 8. Perhaps, it’s past his expiration date?
The best part is, I make these mistakes too. When asking a new friend how old he was in Italian, “Quanti ani hai?” I say.
“Ventiquattro,” He responded laughing.
I look at him confused, wondering the reason for all the laughter. Then the group explained that what I had asked was quanti ani hai, meaning “How many assholes do you have?” What I should have said was, “Quanti anni hai,” with extra pronunciation on the double n in anni making the word years, not anuses. Now I know why another guy at the nightclub last week responded “one” when I asked him the same question.