Some of you may remember when I made a jackass out of myself at our favorite Chinese take out joint last year. It only got worse a few weeks later when I accidentally popped the spigot thingy off their giant silver tea trough thing and sweet tea shot, I mean SHOT, across the restaurant like a hole in the tea dam. Luckily another Chinese take out place opened up closer to our house and I was able to start anew! And the lady there is nice! And she knows my voice when I call! (That means I either have the voice of an angel or a drunk banshee. I vote for the angel.) And she thinks I speak Chinese well! She even said one day if she closed her eyes she'd think I was Chinese! Ok, so that last one was where she was totally trying to get me to order more expensive things instead of me & CSP splitting entrees. Things have been going well. I don't want to mess up a good thing.
So I apparently decided unconciously to take my jackass act across town the other night. The Cap'n and I stayed up at my sister's house Monday night so CSP and my BIL could watch Monday Night Football together. They like to stay up til the crack of dawn smoking cheese (not a euphemism for smoking the wacky weed- they actually put cheese in a smoker and infuse smoke flavor into said dairy. Don't ask me where they get their weird hobbies from, I'm just glad they found each other and I don't have to pretend watching cheese get smoky is SO! MUCH! FUN! I mean, they actually have serious conversations about different wood chip/cheese combinations. Seriously.) Anyway, man can not live on smoked cheddar alone so Sara & I picked up Chinese take out for dinner. We were standing there deciding on what to order when Sara said "Why don't you talk to her in Chinese?" while trying to contain her heh hehs. My Southern accent doesn't mix all that well with Mandarin tones. The Chinese take out lady (from here on referred to as CL) said "You need to talk to me about something?". So I was stuck. Here's where things start to go downhill.
Me: I'm adopting from China and trying to learn to speak Mandarin.
CL: Oh! Ok you can talk Chinese to me.
Me: *Please forgive my guesses on the spelling. I can barely speak it, much less type it out.* Wo shuh mei guaryen.
Me: Wo shuh mei guaryen.
CL: Oh, you're trying to tell me your name!
Me: Um, no, I was telling you "I am an American".
CL: Oh! You sound great!
*Heh. Yeah right.*
We ordered and CL asked if I knew any more Chinese. I was obviously impressing the hell out of her. I rattled off the rest of the phrases I've learned. Such useful gems like "Are you Chinese? I speak English. You speak Chinese. I do not speak Chinese well."
Sidebar: Cap'n and I are tall, white people going to China. So far the only things I can say in Mandarin. are painfully obvious to the native Chinese. Why, I wonder, doesn't my "Quick & Easy Chinese" download on the ol' iPod teach you things like "Where is the bathroom? I'm lost and can't find my hotel. I have sleep apnea and this machine helps me breathe. I promise, nice Customs official, that it isn't a weapon of mass destruction."
After my stunning linguistic display, I noticed a snapshot of a baby on the wall by the register and asked if the baby belonged to CL. She said yes. Sara and I cooed and told her how adorable she is. And she was gorgeous with this cute little kerchief on her head.
Me: What's her name?
CL: Anna Ling
Me: (siezing the opportunity to find out from a native Chinese person the true meaning of Ling since we refer to our daughter to be as Ling Ling) What does Ling mean?
CL: as she looks at me like I'm a world class moron- That's my husband's last name.
Sara laughed as I slinked away to wait on our order. CL turned and chatted with the cooks. I'm sure she was relaying my extreme sophistication and by no means suggesting they make my hunan chicken so freakin spicy that I couldn't get through half of it as payback for completely butchering their language. It's a good thing I like Mexican so I'll have an alternative after getting blackballed at every Chinese take out place in the Carolinas. I did take 4 years of Spanish in school. Lucky for them!