Sunday, December 20, 2015

299. Confusion

“So why do they call them debates if they don’t debate one another?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why do they call it ‘collateral damage’ when they mean killing innocent people?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why do they call it a sport when one side has a weapon and the other doesn’t?”

“Why are you torturing me?” We were in the shop and I was using a hand plane to flatten the surface of a piece of wood too large to go through my power planer. The work was exasperating enough without the inquisitive teenager that C.W. loves to shift into when I’m really busy.

“Why,” I said, “don’t you do something useful and sweep up these shavings?”

“Will you pay me to?”

I just looked at him. “Why do they call them student athletes?” he said.

“Because they don’t call them cowboys,” I said.

“Why do they call it making love when so many women of your species don’t seem to like it at all?”

“Because they don’t call it making pies.”

“Shouldn’t they call it making babies?”

“What do they call in on Falloonia?”

“It’s a long word,” he said, “and you couldn’t pronounce it. In your language it roughly translates into ‘watching the sun set with one eye and a hopeful heart’ or something like that.”

I stopped. “It what?”

“As in,” he said, “when will this be over?”

Sometimes I can’t tell whether he is jacking me around or not. I resumed my planing.

“Here’s one,” he said, “Why do they call it getting it on when they mean getting it in?”

“Do you want my wife to hear you?”

“Sure,” he said. “Maybe she knows about loading cargo into a plane.”

“Are we going somewhere with all this?”

He thought for a moment. “Do you realize,” he said, “how confusing your language is for a visitor to your galaxy?”

“Not so,’ I said. “We have two-year-olds that pick it up without effort.”

He ignored the insult. “So you allow them to reach adulthood using ‘fat-chance’ and ‘slim-chance’ interchangeably?

At this precise moment I gouged the wood and let loose a stream of imprecations, ending with one in Vietnamese that vaguely has some relation or other to one’s mother.

“That’s another thing,” he said. “What about things like …” and he uttered a phrase involving … well I can't say what it involved, other that the act of a flying leap.

“Don’t let my wife hear you saying that.” I said.

“Where do you think I learned it?”

That did it. I laid my planer aside. “Come on,” I said. “You need leadership.”

The best thing about your language, or so
 it seems to me, is its comedic value. - C.W.
“You lead,” he said, “like someone with lead in their pockets.”

I groaned.

“I enjoyed this informal exchange of ideas by spoken words,” he said.

“This conversation,” I said, ‘has cost me a fine piece of wood. And you need to adjust your Galactic Universal translator.”

“I trust my GUT,” he said. “I’ll put it up against yours anytime.”

I groaned and walked away.

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