This week, for Wednesday, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite foreign experiences. And by favorite, I do mean funniest- the kind that only come through language and culture differences.
1. Spiritual Sex
I served an L.D.S. mission in Tokyo, but before leaving, spent several months studying Japanese in a training center. Japanese is a difficult language and some struggled more than others. One way that we had to practice was to learn a lesson in Japanese and then actually give it to Japanese speaking volunteers who came by to help us. My favorite language mis-hap from these? A very kind, soft spoken man was studying Japanese in earnest but really didn't quite get the grasp of it. Let me tell you how his lesson to the volunteer ended.
seirei= The Spirit, Holy Ghost, etc.
reiteki= Spiritual (i.e., have a spiritual experience)
seiteki= Sex, sexual
This poor young man, while trying to give his lesson said, in Japanese,
"I promise you that if you read the Book of Mormon, you will have many wonderful sexual experiences. I know this because I have had many sexual experiences with the Book of Mormon."
We all knew what he was trying to say.... but sometimes you just can't help but to laugh- and by the end of his lesson that he gave to a volunteer, that volunteer was in tears because they were laughing so hard.
2. Many hats, small sex
The group I went to Russia with was out and about shopping in one of the many bazaars in Moscow. One of the members of our group was a petite, blond sweet girl fresh out of high school. As she was out shopping for a fur hat, one Russian man pulled her aside and promised her a great deal on hats. As he pulled her into her booths, he offered her whatever hat she would like. When she asked how much it would be, he said, in broken English, "No money, just sex for hat". When she balked, he went on, grabbing her arm and trying to convince her. "No weak American sex. Good, RUSSIAN sex." She still denied him, so he continued you. "You want hat? Take hat. Take all hat. Not big thing- just small sex. I give you many hats, small sex. Yes? Many hats, small sex?" By this time, thankfully, her friend had pulled her from his booth and on to another, where she was safe from selling her body for many hats....
3. Love is just different
While on a road trip through France, a particular Russian boy with fairly solid English struck up a friendship with me. He was interesting, to say the least, and I became suspicious of his feelings for me one night as I sat writing in my journal. He asked to take the journal because he wanted to write something. This is his 'love confession' (as taken from my journal).
Hello. I am Sasha. I'm a good gue. I want to say a couple words about Emily (sorry for my grammatic mistakes- I'm not good in english, and sorry for bad words.- I'm write about Emily). I think it make sence to start my story form info tha Emily do not like me. You think it is stupit to not like me? I think that same. Anyway, it is Emyly's choose. But, I like Emily. She is cute and not really smart. I like theese qualityes in girls. I should return this doing to Emily. Kiss you. >m. <-- this is my kiss.
Granted, he may have been a little inebriated, but I must say, it was the first and last time that a guy has told me he likes me because I am "cute and not really smart." I guess what you look for in a girl is different if you're Russian?
4. Favorite Words
I taught English to a group of 3-5 year olds in Moscow. Sometimes I really questioned how well I taught them when I read through my journal, where I had recorded the phrases that they used most.
Danill: "Bomba!" "F*** you!"
Masha: "Your mom's not very pretty"
Ljuba: "I'm not a baby", "Not sex"
Dina: "You're a crazy bumblebee"
Ester: "Chocolate, yes? Chocolate, yes? Me chocolate, yes, it's ok? Yes chocolate me? Yes?"
When living in Moscow, our group went on a road-trip through Europe on a giant tour bus. Sitting across from my friend (a girl) and I were a few Russian teens. They didn't speak English and we really didn't speak Russian, but we struck up a type of friendship by exchanging a few sentences from our Russian guide book. Once, we read out loud every ridiculous example from the book. "Wait, stop- that policeman took by book!" and other weird ones. I finished by reading out loud (in Russian) "Please get help-my wife has been hit by a car!" To this sentence, the Russian youngsters looked at us oddly and whispered to one another "Lezbiankas!" We KNEW what they were talking about but didn't have the lingual skills to let them know that my friend was not actually my wife....