February 27, 2007

A Story

Paranoia is not becoming of anyone, regardless of age, race, or parental status. It is not a trait I usually exhibit.

All of last week, I was on vacation with my husband and apparently, I needed the break even from this blog. We had not touched our golf clubs since we left Canada in the fall, so we decided to worm our way down California's lovely coast, through Carmel and on to play our first round of the year at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. I just love being close enough to the ocean to smell it and hear it. The weather had cleared up just enough for us to use the golf package we had signed up for.

Now, being the polite Purple Woman that I am, I invited the couple of obvious Asian descent to play up with us. It seemed the 'warm-friendly" American thing to do. We were following two foursomes anyway, and one of the things I like about golf is that you get to jaw-jack with perfect strangers. Only on a rare occasion do I wish they had remained so -- so I waved them forward to join us for the round.

We exchanged names, Kio and Nameko (I think. I always write the names of the persons playing with us on our card, but my beloved has tossed it already!) Heavy accents. Their names were not familiar to me so I purposefully did not ask where they were from or try to guess their nationality. I am half-Asian myself and know better. No one has ever been able to guess what I am by looking at me, and I know for a fact that I do not know a Korean from a Japanese and have made the embarrassing mistake of thinking that I did. Never again, I promised myself.

I guess this is not typical American behavior. I fancy myself as rather atypical on more than one account. I'm a married, childfree adult after all. By the fifth hole, the husband had warmed up to me enough to volunteer that they were from Osaka, Japan.

"Wow!" I exclaimed. "That's very far."

He seemed pleased that I was duly impressed by this revelation. Then he got bolder, and on the next hole he asked "Are you a mader?"

I thought he asked if I was a mother. I was incredulous and in the flash of a split second, I was just ticked enough to say, "No. Is that okay?" My tone was perhaps slightly sarcastic -- and goodness knows what expression I had on my face.

He was immediately disturbed by my reaction. I had misunderstood him. He blamed his bad accent and said he noticed how tall I was and how I moved...He thought I was a model. I should have known that Japanese have a little trouble when if comes to the "l" sound in the English language. Laurel is perhaps the most difficult word for my Japanese friend to pronounce. The "l"s come out sounding just like the "r"s. Teri comes out "Teli" half the time.

I confessed to him that I was neither, and the miscommunication ended in a laugh, but I felt like a heel because the poor guy was just trying to pay me a compliment and I thought he was examining my non-parental status!

Once we got past that, his wife asked me how long I had been playing golf, which was even worse, because the answer is twelve years, and you cannot tell by observing my game.

[Photo Originally uploaded to Flickr on February 4, 2007 by kmevans.]

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emeraldwednesday said...

LOL! Great story. :-)

Anonymous said...

First of all I would LOVE to visit Japan and know it's on the cards! Including Osaka! I initially thought Tokyo and Okinawa but I am thinking now maybe just Kyoto & Osaka. (Too expensive to see all in one go!)
Secondly, funny story!
Reminded me when I met hubby & his English was a lot worse he said "Do you have a girlfriend?" I replied "No, do YOU have a BOYfriend?"
Would love to play "real" golf, only played minigolf up til now. Also on the cards.

Anonymous said...

EmeraldWednesday - Thanks! (I feel like I have to capitalize a day of the week, even if it is burried in your blog handle.)

AM - Hey, you're still out there! Cool. One of my best friends is a woman from Japan, now living in the U.S. She invited me to visit her parents home in Tokyo a few years ago and we went to Kyoto together. It was the trip of a lifetime. One of those places you hope you'll see again, but there is probably never enouogh time or money. I was very lucky in that the Cherry Blossoms came early and were timed perfectly for my arrive. It was magical. I took a Japanese language class when I got back so that I could bring my husband along and travel more independently next time. Time is passing though and I am forgetting the lettering. Still have my flash cards though!

I am glad you both enjoyed my story. glad simple misunderstandings can be resolved with a laugh.