Being married to someone who speaks a different language and comes out of a different culture can be challenging sometimes, but it can also be really fun. My husband is German, and I’m American. Now, he’s a funny guy to begin with, but sometimes, when he speaks English, he says the most ridiculously unintentionally hilarious things. I always say that one day I’m going to start a journal of nothing but the funny things he says. When I do, these will be at the top of the list.
“I really like belly peppers.”
When we first started dating, my husband used to call bell peppers “belly peppers” – and not because he was trying to be silly.
“Chocolate gives you Happy Hormones.”
I’ll never forget the time we were having a discussion about chocolate. We were talking about how much I love it and how I rationalize my chocolate obsession by touting the health benefits of dark chocolate. My husband then said to me, “Chocolate also gives you happy hormones.” Cute, right?! What he was trying to say was that chocolate causes the release of endorphins, which make you feel happy. But he just translated the German word Glückshormone, which literally means Happy Hormones.
“Those are rape fields.”
On one of my visits a few years back, I came in the springtime and split my trip between England and Germany. When I was in England, I had seen these bright yellow fields everywhere and had no idea what kind of flower it was. (I naively thought they were flower fields at first.) Then I came to Germany and saw those same yellow fields. So, I asked my husband what they were – meaning, what kind of plant is that. And he said, “Those are rape fields.” Of course, now I know that he meant the rapeseed plant, but when all he said was “rape fields,” my immediate thought was that these were notorious locations for sexual assaults. The German word is just Raps, so he didn’t feel the need to add “seed” to the end, which led to a very confusing conversation for him.
“Oh, that’s just tree semen.”
So, this spring has been out of control with the pollen. It has been so bad that every morning I come outside to find a new layer of yellow dust on my car. It’s coating our front door, the sidewalks, street signs – it’s everywhere. Well, a few days ago, my husband and I got into the car together, and I had been thinking about this yellow coating that was taking over. My car had not been parked anywhere near a tree, so I wondered if maybe it wasn’t pollen. So, I asked my husband, “What actually is all of this yellow stuff on the car?” – to which he replied, “Oh, that’s just tree semen.” I about fell out of my seat with laughter and definitely do not look at trees or pollen the same way anymore. The funny thing is that the English and German words are the same – Pollen – but for whatever reason, he thought the English word would be something SUPER literal.
By far, the funniest thing my husband ever said was while walking through a mall in Texas. We were with my mom, and there was music playing over the loudspeaker in the store we were in. It was pretty faint, but if you listened, you could hear it. Well, I don’t remember what song it was, but it was most definitely an unedited version because my mom and I suddenly heard “the P-word.” I’m sure I don’t need to explain that any further to my American readers, but for anyone who is unsure about which word I’m referring to – think outdated slang for kitty cat. So, my mom and I turn to each other in shock, and my husband is like, “What’s going on? What happened?” I told him, “They just said the P-word in that song!” He stood there for a second, thinking, and then with a very confused look on his face, he said, “Poop?”
“It’s fine. You’re American.”
Ah, the time my sweet and loving husband made the most unintentionally backhanded comment ever. It was a nice sunny day, and I had gone jogging in the afternoon. My husband got home from work and wanted to do a little grocery shopping. I was still in my jogging clothes, with no make-up on, and sporting a sweaty/messy ponytail. I told my husband that I would need time to change my clothes, maybe take a quick shower, to which he said, “It’s fine. You’re American.” Oh, don’t worry. I didn’t let that one go! Now I tease him all the time with it, especially when I look a hot mess.
“I have to do a Number Two.”
This might sound totally normal at first, but it was the most innocent thing I think I’ve ever heard my husband say. I had taught him the whole “number one” and “number two” thing on one of his visits to Texas. He’d never heard that before and really seemed to get a kick out of it. Well, one day, we were in the car with some other people, and he told me, loud and clear, about how he had to “do a number two.” In that moment, it felt like it was meant to be some kind of inside joke, and then a light bulb went off in my head. I said to him, “You do know that every American knows what that means, right?” Poor guy! He thought it was a secret code that I had made up and that was only understood between the two of us.
“It cuts my meat.”
This one had me and the sales girl crying. We were at a Cavenders in Texas, and my husband was trying to find a nice pair of jeans for our wedding. He’d already bought boots, but he didn’t have jeans with the right cut to wear with them. Well, the sizes are different in Germany, so we weren’t 100% sure what size he wore in American jeans. So, we get the sales girl to help us – who is probably 22 or so. She looks at him and pulls a couple of sizes that she thinks will fit him. He goes into the dressing room, tries them on, and comes out to show us. She’s talking him through how they are supposed to fit and where he should feel what. He turns to the side, looks at himself in the mirror, and does the adjusting move that guys do with their jeans while saying, “I don’t know. It cuts my meat.” He was talking about it being a little too tight on his tummy, but the way he said it and the movement he coupled it with, it came across like he was talking about his man area. The sales girl and I both dropped our heads and lost it. To make it worse, my husband kept asking, “What’s so funny? What did I say?” with the most innocent face you’ve ever seen.
As you can see, I have a lot of fun with him! We might have days every now and then when the language causes problems or when our cultures clash in a head-on collision, but we also have days where the sweetest language flubs pop up out of nowhere and bring us back together.