Over the next several posts I will run some of the entries I received for the contest to win a foreign-language phrase book. I love the following story from B, who did not want his name used:
I can't help wondering how often the Commodore's son showed up and what were the repercussions of that visit, since it was considered important enough to be an item in a phrasebook. And, geez, how often did something terrible happen to these people's pockets? Soo funny. Thanks B.
"My parents lived in Indonesia for a year while my dad was advising a company there. They were sent an Indonesian phrasebook to study before the trip. I distinctly remember (in English) two highly useful phrases in this book that every traveler should know:
1. "You idiot! Just look at this pocket."
2. "Quick, the Commodore's son is coming!"
The Indonesian phrase-book story reminds me of the time I was studying French in Paris. I shared a room in a French woman's house with an Italian teenager named Laura. One night she woke up screaming in pain. In Italian.
I wanted to help her but I didn't understand what she was saying. Finally she managed to shout "elp, elp." She pointed to her leg. Apparently, she was having a terrible cramp. I pressed my fingers into her calf where pointed although I didn't really know what I was doing. It seemed to help and we both went back to sleep.
The next day I asked her (in French) whether she knew some English. Bien sur! Apparently so. Her parents owned a restaurant and employed an English-speaking kitchen helper. Laura proudly recited the English she remembered:
Just a tad more useful than that "Commodore's son" one, eh?
It was particularly funny hearing her stretch out the name Claaaaarence, rolling the "r" when she finally got through that "a."
Fun memory. From a solo trip to Paris.