Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This is all true.

I found out last minute that M was in town this weekend. I haven't seen her since my last trip to Seattle about 5 years ago. M used to live in Dallas and we were friends about 18 years ago. She looks a little like Penelope Cruz with brown, sparkly eyes I always envied. She was working as a chemist for one of the local hospitals before she moved up to the Seattle area (1992-ish), and when she got up there, she didn't want to continue to work in that field. On a whim she answered an ad for the Bureau of Land Mangement and got a job hiking out in the wilds for days at a time and (no lie) counting Spotted Owls.

She sent me an email Saturday morning with what looked like an urgent message "please call me" and her number. I called her up to find she was in Texas, her mother having died last week. She and her husband were about to drive back to the pacific nw, and she was hoping to see me, if only briefly, before they departed. I suggested we could meet at First Chinese BBQ for lunch in Richardson. We met, and with M was her husband and another man she'd dated for about 9 years who now lives in this area.

M started talking about the little house she where she used to live in Lakewood, and did I remember it. I said "you had a cat named Miss Nubbins, and you had crabs."

*dead silence as oxygen is sucked from room*
The two men looked startled and she looked incredulous, her eyes widenening as she turned to face me.

"Remember? In that little glass aquarium? Do you still keep crabs?"
Apparently, the guys thought I meant some other kind of crabs.
Open mouth, insert foot.

1 comment:

Peter said...

(Wipes smirk from face)

That's another example of how American expressions are similar to, yet have a completely different meaning from, the same words in English-English.

On my first visit to the USA, back in 1996, I was having breakfast with a family in Baltimore. The menu included fruit salad. The teenage daughter was carefully picking out the bits of cherry from the fruit salad and putting them on the side of her plate.

Yours truly, completely unaware of the colloquial meaning of the word in America, asked her politely, "May I have your cherry?"

She blushed beetroot-red and fled the table, her parents collapsed in hysterical laughter, and it was some time before they could explain to me what I'd just said . . .