My Filipina wife gave me the brief message. “Your brother called. She wants you to call back”. I smile knowing my wife had once again mixed up the use of ‘he’ and ‘she’ (unless my brother had called to tell me about a gender change). I gave up a long time ago trying to correct my wife. In this case, it was easy to understand what she meant. At other times, not so much. When she tells a long story involving several people, it gets much trickier to interpret. If you are a foreigner speaking English with someone who grew up in the Philippines, you will probably encounter the “he/she” issue. My advice is to just accept it and ask the needed questions to clarify what was communicated…. or learn to speak their language. I can sympathize with my wife’s struggle to use the proper pronoun. Lately, I’ve started to make a similar mistake with the dogs We have a female mother (duh) and her 2 male pups. I’m often calling the mother, “Come here, boy”. The dogs don’t seem to mind my errors, and always forgive me, provided I have a snack for them.
While living near Chicago, one of our neighbors had built a massive outdoor deck. While at work, my wife mentioned to her coworkers, “My neighbor is so lucky. Every day after work she sits on her giant wooden dick”. You see, my wife’s pronunciation isn’t always perfect, and the results can be hilarious. When my wife retells that story to our friends, they are often in tears.
There was a large corner wrap around desk in our upstairs bedroom. My Roland musical keyboard completely stretched across one side, while the other side supported my headphones and computer. One day, my wife’s friends were downstairs visiting while I was upstairs hiding, quietly working on a spreadsheet. Apparently, one of the friends inquired about my whereabouts. Not realizing the implications of her reply, she simply responded, “He’s probably upstairs playing with his big organ”. I came downstairs to see why all the women were laughing so much. After my wife explained I later commented, “Well at least you got the big part right.”
I won’t go into detail for obvious reasons, but when shopping for a car, my wife wouldn’t let us consider the Ford Focus, realizing from a past experience that her pronunciation of the first syllable of ‘focus’ sounded similar to a naughty word. I guess she could envision her embarrassment answering that common question for the next 10 years, “What do you drive?”. (Note to Ford Motor Company: You might want to be more careful choosing the names for new models. Of course, if your proud corporation is comfortable having your compact car called a Ford F___ Us, then never mind. My wife is available for consultation.)
Then there was the time when a friend complained about a bad upstairs smell in their home. My wife, completely serious responded, “Maybe there is a skank in the attic”. (For those of you unfamiliar with the word ‘skank’, it means a sleazy or unpleasant person.) Of course, my wife meant to say skunk. Also, just for the record, Americans do not generally have skanks or skunks in their attics.
After having new glass windows installed, we were talking with others about where to purchase new window treatments. Someone mentioned there is a blind factory in the area. My wife thought it was nice for a local business to be hiring people that can’t see. (I realize this article reads like I’m using an old joke book, but this stuff actually happened.)
Lastly, I recall sharing a meal a long time ago with another couple when the subject turned to Philippine terrorism. The other husband asked, “Were there many guerrillas where you used to live?” My wife responded, “No, there weren’t any monkeys.”