......finding a new home for lutefisk lovers.

(ok we don't love it. or even like it. but we're supposed to.)

01 April 2011

Is it Still Funny if I Have to Explain the Punchline?

In my last post, I may have mentioned something about "there hasn't been a single crime all week - not one GD crime." I'll give you a minute to scroll down and read it again.......

(elevator music)

(maybe "Daydream Believer" or Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You")

Okay - do I really have to explain that the line originates from the bored cop who was itching to pull me over? And not me? Because my husband, who is exceedingly bright but sometimes speaks a different English language than mine, came home from work yesterday and said, "You know that no crime is a good thing, right?"

Of course no crime is good. Who wants crime?

"Because in today's post you were actually complaining about the fact that there was no crime here."

No I wasn't. That was the cop speaking. I wasn't complaining. He was.

"Well, it didn't sound like it."

I blame this foreign English language of his. It sounds like English but means something else entirely. It's like Mikelish. Or maybe I speak a foreign language. No - I think we speak the same language but he HEARS a foreign language. I can't tell you how many of our fights end up like this:

"Wait. What are you talking about?"

"I don't know. What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about what you're talking about."

"No you're not."

"Forget it then. What do you want for dinner?"

I wish I could say this was a family issue, but it's been a common theme since we moved. I thought they spoke the same language here.

But I was wrong.

And I'm not talking about the different ways we say "bumper sticker." It's more nuanced than that. I'm talking about having a conversation with someone - in English - and not being able to understand what they're saying.

Consider this conversation I recently had at a deli counter:

ME: What's the smallest sandwich you have?

DELI COUNTER GIRL: Small. They're subs so they only come in one size.

ME: You can't get a half or anything?

DCG: No. You can get a sandwich on bread but you have to order a whole sandwich.

ME: Ok, I'll get the tuna.

DCG: Do you want the whole or the half?

This happens at least once a week. And I stand there like a foreigner, wondering how many times I can say "I'm sorry?" or "But I thought you said....." before I just nod and smile. Sometimes I'll ask a question, listen carefully, then look at Mike out of the corner of my eye as if to whisper, "What's the answer?"

I tell jokes and no one laughs.

I don't tell jokes and everyone laughs.

But I'm getting better. Once I figured out that we speak two different Englishes, I became more alert. And now, although I don't speak the language, I'm beginning to understand some of it. Watch me, I can translate the following sentences:

"You tryin' to win a contest or somethin'? You come in every hou-ah on the hou-ah?"

TRANSLATION: "Thank you for coming to my store so often. I appreciate your business."


"You're gonna love this school. It's the best in the whole state."

TRANSLATION: "I don't know if it's the best, but it's the school that my kid goes to."


"You're gonna love their pizza. It's best in the whole state."

TRANSLATION: "I've tried their pizza. It was good."


"You HAVE to go to this doctor. She's the best in the whole state."

TRANSLATION: "This is the doctor I go to. I've never had any problems with her. There might be other doctors, but I've never tried them."

When you start to crack the code and accept their foreignness, it becomes much more fun - more like travel. You stop assuming that everyone is like you; which curbs the mounting frustration when they do things that don't fit into your box of expectations.

It stops being an aggravation and starts being an adventure. Mostly. Mostly sometimes.

But I still don't understand Mikelish.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

This is hilarious, I seriously chuckled out loud. Sometimes I think my husband speaks a different English too. And then let's not even delve into the other "other" language being spoken over here. That just complicates things even more.