Thursday, June 18, 2009


Let me start out by saying that I recognize the hypocrisy of someone who speaks only one language bagging on someone else's second or third or fourth language. And this post isn't about making fun of the English I've heard, but rather showing how when our language is taken literally it can be quite funny.

Case #1

I'm sitting in my doctor's office - -the same doctor I see pretty much weekly -- and on this day have decided to put an effort into my appearance. Now, I'm not saying my hair's blown out or I'm wearing a cocktail dress, but I've chosen to leave the jeans behind and am actually wearing mascara and lipgloss! In fact, I'm wearing one of my signature summer dresses, some nice high wedges and sure there may be a hint of cleavage, but I promise you nothing salacious. The nurse opens the door to let me into the doctor's office and, in front of the entire waiting room, says, "Ooooh, very sexy" and makes a hand gesture about my body. Suddenly I found myself wanting to throw on a sweatshirt and scrub off my blush. The last thing you want people to think is that you're getting sexed up for your doctor's appointment. No scratch that, the last thing you want is for your doctor to think you dress like a whore. So I scurried into his office and tried to not make eye contact with anyone in the waiting room when I came back out. This same thing happened again the next time I dressed up well over a month later (this time I was having lunch with a friend). She opens the door to the waiting room and says, "Ooooh, sexy today." OK, I decided, this lady is nuts.

Then yesterday I was off to an orientation for some volunteering work (the pinacle activity of any self-respecting housewife!) and decided to dress up. Again, very demure dress with NO cleavage and a hemline that reached my knee, but with heels and makeup. A woman with a dog (who I guess I've spoken to when I've been walking Victor) walks by and says, "Where are you going? You look so sexy." It dawned on me that Chinese women with excellent English vocabularies use the term "sexy" in place of "nice". They don't mean you look like you want sex; they just mean, 'hey you chose to dress up today."

If you're not surprised by this story, just take a moment to envision your nurse or a neighbor or a grocery clerk telling you you look "sexy". Um yeah.

Case #2

Our vet set us up with a very nice Italian woman named Fiorenza who had recently gotten a pug puppy named Pepe. She was going back to Italy for the summer and needed someone to watch Pepe while she was gone. Everyone in HK leaves for the summer, so while it doesn't make her Pet Owner of the Year to leave her new puppy behind for 3 months, it's also not all that unusual here. One day over lunch Vin asks Fiorenza how Pepe was doing after having been neutered the previous week. She replied, "He still gets sexually aroused; in fact just yesterday he had an erection." Vin nearly spit out his lunch.

This is Pepe (sans erection) with Victor in the background.

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