You Say – We Say

England and America are two countries separated by a common language.

~ George Bernard Shaw

I’m sure everyone has heard the expression, ” You say to-may-to, we say ta-mah-to.” Here in the UK, it is still almost a daily event for me to have a bit of word wrangling with John over how different words may be pronounced. It’s interesting how we can be referring to the same thing, but saying it in different ways leaving room for confusion at times.

We just work it out generally, but there are times when it’s too funny not to share. One example that still makes me smile was when John and I were watching his granddaughter, Jersey Girl (JG) while her parents were away for a few days in Spain. Right before they were expected home from their trip, I called out to JG from the kitchen and asked her to please pick up the living room as her parents would be home soon. What I heard back was, “Pardon?” a word that had become a frequent refrain over the previous days whenever she was having trouble with my accent, pronunciation or phrase usage. A moment passed and then I heard her say, ” Do you want me to tidy up my toys? ” and I was reminded once again of all the ways we may speak the same language, but say things that have very different meanings.

Another example occurred when John came to see me in America. We went to Home Depot, a DIY store in midtown Atlanta because we were working on a few home repair projects while he was in town. The midtown Home Depot has a large customer base in the gay community and is generally pretty busy with lots of people around to help you if you need assistance. After searching on our own for what we needed, I began to look around for a salesperson to help us. Having absolutely no success with this I muttered something along the lines of…” not being able to find someone when you need them, ” to which John said in frustrated voice,” That’s because they’re all outside having a fag! ” My immediate response besides my eyebrows arching to the ceiling was to say very quickly, ” Shhh, you cannot say that here!” Of course, he meant that all the sales people were outside having a cigarette, but still….

Another adjustment was one that I had to work out over the phone during the early stages of our initially long distance relationship when John spoke about his granddaughter pulling faces.  I remember thinking, pulling faces… and visualizing what this might look like. It took a bit more conversation to discern that he meant making faces as in silly, funny ones. JG is a champion face puller having done so since before she could speak so that now if you even point a camera in her direction you may get a series of photographs that look like the ones below.

These were taken from a distance in low light and then enlarged so the quality is not the best, but you’ll get a good sense of what I’m talking about when you see them. Also, you should know that I had no idea that she was creating a different look for each shot as my completely unaware expression indicates.

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The last two faces are my favorite funny ones that she “pulls.”  In case you’re wondering how JG learned to make such interesting looks for photographs, the one below is her mother practicing for the day when she’d need to teach her own daughter how to get a laugh with just a look.

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