Sunday, October 14, 2007

R.I.P. Translate that!

I talk to my mother on the telephone early on Sunday morning. Phone conversations are a trial in this household due to the vast quantities of small people who scurry around to trip me up, both literally and linguistically. In an ideal world I would prefer to avoid the whole subject with my mother, because it is difficult to explain the inexplicable in a foreign language.
“Hello Mum! How’s it been this week?”
“Oh the weather has been absolutely frightful, raining cats and dogs.”
“Mommee! This one is a pervert! It has a leg missing!””
“Is that Ella I can hear in the background? What did she just say?”
“Oh nothing mum, she’s just fine.”
“Mommee. I found the leg. It’s o.k. He has all eight now.”
“That was her, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, we’re just a bit busy around here at the moment, you know, with only two weeks to go until Halloween.” Dang! Why did I mention the dreaded ‘H’ word.
“Halloween! Oh you don’t do that dreadful American Halloween rubbish do you? Oh I suppose you must since you’re out there in America. It’s catching on here too, as all the most dreadful American things always do.”
“Er would you prefer us to celebrate ‘Day of the Dead’?”
“I beg your pardon? Oh yes, I always forget that you’re so close to Mexico.”
“Mom it’s real hard to find black legs all tangled up with the tinsely body.”
“What on earth is she doing?”
“Um well we’re just putting up a few decorations.”
“Oh that’s nice, afterall you’ve been in that house now for eight years, it’s about time you redecorated.”
“Stop mumbling dear, I can’t hear you properly if you talk into your beard. So which room are you starting with?”
“It’s all finished outside now Mom, I’m gonna start on the windows.”
“What did she say. Have you been decorating outside? And now inside? How very odd.”
“Mom! I found all of the spiders but the flies are all missing.”
“Well we’re not redecorating as such, just putting up a few……seasonal…….things.”
“What kind of seasonal things? It’s a bit early for Christmas.”
“True, but out here, at this time of year…….lots of people decorate their houses with……Autumnal fruit, nuts and……..wreaths and such.”
“Do they. How awfully odd?”
“It can seem a little strange at first, but just as big shops change their window displays, so Americans do likewise, except with their homes of course.”
“Surely the average window is too small for mannequins?”
“Mannequins! Oh I see. Well forget the store display, think…..think…..”
“Mom! I need help! I can’t work out which way round the pelvis is supposed to be.”
“What did she say?”
“Are you still there?”
“Er, yes, of course I’m still here.”
“Mom. I’ve run out of thumb tacks. I still have another 3 foot of chain links to hang.”
“What on earth is that child doing? Are you supervising her properly? She shouldn’t be playing with tacks.”
“Mom the black feathers have stuck together in a big lump! The bats have gotten all tangled with the cats’ tails.”
“Good grief! Have you expanded your menagerie from Hermit crabs, lizards and cats?”
“No it’s just that…”
“Mom. I can’t stand on this ladder much longer my arms are all achey.”
“What is she doing up a ladder?”
“Well, you see we’re trying to….”
“Mom. He’s got a tack in his foot. Mom! There’s blood. Mom! It’s real blood.”
“By Mum, I’ll call you next week.”


flutter said...



Ah yes I too recognise the painful task of expat daughter trying to explain foriegn life to elderly relatives!!

buffalodickdy said...

Halloween has grown to the third biggest money spent holiday in USA. When I was a kid, it was for kids! Decorations beyond a Jack-O-Lantern were rare, and gathering candy by children was what it was all about. Adult costume parties were nearly unheard of....

mumkeepingsane said...

hee hee

On a more serious note, hope the foot with the tack in it was ok.

dgibbs said...

I imagine until next week you Mum will be sitting on pins and needles (and maybe tacs) waiting to find out if everyone made out ok. hehe

Anonymous said...

Do I have to put up Hallowe'en decorations??.... I leave that for the dh.

Your phone conversation is why I prefer the internet and email.


whitenoise said...

very funny :-)

Jeni said...

I never decorated for Halloween when my kids were little - barely had time enough to dress myself and see that the kids were dressed, much less "dressing" the house too. Even Christmas -which did get a little bit of extra trim - didn't get that my by comparison to my neighbors. My daughter thought she was going to be the kind of parent who decorates for each and every holiday but I see now she too has changed her tune. Getting the laundry done is enough struggle in the "redecorating" department now for her, just like it was for me. Too funny though with the misinterpretations that come from background sounds.

The Shepcarpclan said...

When I was a child Americans rarely decorated for Halloween. Halloween stuff in stores were just a few costumes and some candy. Stores put out Christmas stuff shortly after Thanksgiving. Now it is all out together. I only put things up for Christmas around here. My older children however now want to decorate for Halloween. I am not sure how much I want to change with the times.

Roxan said...

Things have changed since I was a child. Costumes were made from what you had in the closet, we started early and went for miles without an adult anywhere near.
Then there were those horrible UNICEF people who had the audacity to expect us to forgo the candy for donations that, we spoiled selfish children were to gather up for the less fortunate. I was a child for god sake! Candy always spoke louder than my conscience.
Other than Christmas, I never decorate and that holiday event is now handled by my children.

Anonymous said...

Up here in the Great White North we do some Halloween decorating but nothing like you folks do south of the 49th.
Quite frankly, I am lucky if I remember to put out a pumpkin, never mind buy the candy.
Hope the foot was not maimed too seriously.

Anne said...

very funny!

The Shepcarpclan said...

Oh my gosh Roxan I had forgotten all about the UNICEF thing. The school I attended would hand out those little plastic containers shaped like that little boy and the dog. I can not remember their name. That just brought back a flood of memories. For the record I never took that thing with me. Costumes were from stuff around the house or what your mom made. Almost no one wore store bought.

Almost American said...

I used to send Halloween decorations to my sister in the UK as her number one son's birthday is at the end of October and she always liked to have a Halloween themed party for him. Don't need to send anything to her now - she can buy it all over there.

The UNICEF boxes show up a lot around here - the kids from the local private school all carry them. We have some neighbours who give the kids stickers instead of candy, and a local dentist who gives out candy AND toothbrushes (which are amazingly popular!)