** WARNING **
Some earthy language lies ahead. Folks offended by earthy language should stop reading this now.
** WARNING OVER **
Our new au pair arrived on Friday, and so far she has been wonderful (for an explanation of what an au pair is and why we have an au pair, click here). She is from Thailand, and even though her English is pretty good, she has a fairly strong accent and a yet growing vocabulary. One of my challenges has been understanding her very well, as my ear is attuned to Spanish accents (I speak Spanish) but not to Thai accents.
Today we ventured to the grocery store. I was very conscious that most of what we found in the store was in boxes or plastic bags, quite different than the markets she frequents in Thailand to purchase fresh food. As we were leaving the store, I heard her say to me, "Americans eat a lot of shit." I was a bit surprised and taken back by her statement, but . . . judging by the McDonalds we ate last night on our way back from Baltimore (we got stuck in the storms and had to make a stop for the kids), the McDonalds we ate today at the Air & Space Museum, and the massive amounts of prepared, prepackaged food we just observed, I couldn’t disagree with her. Americans do eat a lot of shit.
After a few minutes I decided, however, that I had to tell her that "shit" is a bad word, definitely not a word to be spoken in front of the children. "You are right to say that we Americans eat a lot of shit, but I need to tell you that shit is a bad word." She looked at me really oddly. After a few minutes of confused looks in both directions she pulled out an electronic dictionary and asked me to type the word I was trying to describe to her.
And so I typed it in: S-H-I-T. She looked at the Thai script that appeared on the screen, turned beet red and then laughed. "Oh no. That’s not what I was saying. I would never say that. Americans eat a lot of cheese, like on cheeseburgers."
Cheese. Not shit. Americans eat a lot of cheese. But we do eat a lot of shit, too. We both had a good laugh.
It was a fun start to what we hope is a year of good laughs, eye-opening cultural exchange, loving childcare, and greater understanding of ourselves and our world.