ee i ee i OH! / by Susie Lubell

Things are heating up in Gaza and I feel compelled to write my opinions, however politically incorrect, but I just can't muster up the fire to do it right now. Maybe tomorrow. Instead some light-hearted stories about language missteps that months and years later still have us laughing.

We're raising bi-lingual kids so everyday we speak in a mishmash of Hebrew and English peppered with a little Spanish. It is California after all, si? Many of our friends are Hebrew-speaking and while most have an impressive command of English, now and again someone will have a funny story about a pronunciation, spelling or spoken error. And then we chuckle and remember all of our past mistakes from living in or traveling to other countries. I always tell the story of how, when I was house-sitting in Santiago, Chile I had my boyfriend over and some other friends and explained to them how I had accidentally fallen in the shower and that's why I was so grumpy. Silence. And then someone changed the subject. An hour later we're doing dishes and I mention how when I fell in the shower it totally knocked the wind out of me to which Diego, the boyfriend, replied I'm not sure you're using the right verb…he was being polite, like a good Chilean. I had apparently told all of his friends how I took a dump in the shower. Of course, they just figured that since I was American I must be very "open" and willing to share all kinds of weird and inappropriate details about my life with total strangers. Nice one.

Another favorite was about a friend of a friend who got on a bus in Israel and asked the driver if she could put her suitcase in his ass. As opposed to underneath the bus. She only missed it by one preposition. The driver was apparently very amused and happy to accommodate.

A few weeks ago Israeli friends of ours were packing up to move from Berkeley to Cambridge, Mass for a post-doc position and had been in the process of selling most everything and packing the rest. They told us that they'd posted a bunch of things on Craigslist including their changing table. Everything had sold quickly but still no one had written about the changing table (and matching sheet). So I could already tell where this was going because my husband and siblings-in-law are notoriously bad spellers and often insert an "i" in place of long "e" sound as if they were writing in Spanish (get it, mi amigo?). Apparently it was only after they reposted the listing that they realized they'd written: Changing table and pad for sale with matching shit.

And the more I thought about the context, the more I was tickled by the whole thing. It was Berkeley after all. Everyone's all about earth friendly and carbon neutral and thus buying everything second-hand. Less waste! Less power to the man! And then to ensure the authenticity of the second-hand purchase you have the matching shit as your proof. Sure, we got it on craigslist. See the matching shit? Organic. Oh, I kill me.

I also had a good laugh thinking about what the Chileans would have had to say (or not) about that one. Although they likely would have written it exactly the same.