Two of my very favorite people are writing my blog post for me today, whether they like it -- or know it -- or not.
Lonn Taylor, historian, Texan, curator, Smithsonian alum, Fort Davis resident, who writes a wonderful "Rambling Boy" column every week for the local Far West Texas papers, and who is kind enough to share them with us and his other far-flung friends -- shared this tidbit recently, in a column about a million other things:
Word sounds can be confusing even in our native languages if we are getting a little deaf. There is a hoary joke about three deaf Englishmen sharing a compartment in a train. One says, “What was that station we just passed through?” The second says, “Wembly”. The third says, “No, it’s Thursday.” The first one says, “So am I. Let’s all go have a drink.”
My wife, Dedie, and I once found ourselves replicating this situation. We were staying at a hotel in Oregon where meals were served family style, eight people to a table. After dinner, when we had gone up to our room, I remarked that the young man on my right had seemed very nice. “Yes,” Dedie said, “but his grandmother was a Socialist.” “How did you find out that his grandmother was a Socialist?” I asked. “I said HIS TABLE MANNERS WERE ATROCIOUS,” Dedie replied.
Which immediately reminded me of a fantastically hilarious story my darling niece Colleen shared when she was in Ecuador for a semester way back in her college days. You know her, right? Colleen, Chapel Hill Girl, Carrboro Girl, Quito Girl, bilingual maven, comparative lit guru, Faulkner expert, dancer, La La Lady, fabulous oldest niece whom I adore and in whose birth I participated?
I was studying abroad in Ecuador and my two American friends and I planned a trip to the cloud forest town of Mindo. On our last day there we went to take a tour of a coffee plantation that we had found in our Lonely Planet guide. It was just the three of us and an older Australian couple on the "tour" (we learned more about our guide's life story than we did about coffee.) At the end of the tour we were each given a small coffee cup with no more than a sip of coffee in it, so we could taste the coffee they grow there.
I overheard the australian husband saying that coffee should only be drunk black, and I heard his wife say “Well that’s European”. I took this as a jab at our American selves and an insinuation that we liked lots of cream and sugar in our coffee, which is untrue. All three of us take our coffee black. So, hand on my hip, I gave my sip of coffee a little swirl and said, “Then consider us European!”. Hannah looked at me and whispered, “I think she said, ‘well, that’s your opinion’”.
Those Australian accents are hard.