I pride myself on my ability to communicate with people whose first language is not English, but apparently I’m pretty bad at understanding Americans with any kind of drawl – southern, midwestern, whatever.
I was registering G at the pediatrician’s office a few months after we arrived in town. The receptionist asked for the pertinent details – name, date of birth, and then she asked me: ‘Is he a mel?’ Utterly confused, I asked for clarification: ‘I’m sorry, what?’ ‘A mel,’ the receptionist reiterated. Completely clueless as to the meaning of this word, I resorted to ‘what do you mean?’
Exasperated, the woman tried again: ‘Is he a mel or a fe-mel?’
‘Oh! A male!’ I replied, slightly embarassed.
We were at a local restaurant and the hostess pointed to the preschooler and asked ‘is he old enough for crowns?’
Confused, but not wanting to hesitate too long or ask for clarification, I said yes. When she handed him a packet of crayons and a coloring sheet, I understood.
Recently, I was dropping my semi-reluctant preschooler off at his sunday school class. His teacher tried to generate some excitement by announcing: ‘Today we’re going to make crayons and put them on our heads!’
I visualized the class making wax crayons and placing them on top of their heads but I didn’t bother asking for an explanation. When I picked him up an hour later, he had a paper crown in his hand.