|Publicity photo of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in I Love Lucy. Lucy and Ricky in Scotland as part of their European tour shows. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
My husband speaks English as a second language, and didn't really begin to learn much English until he immigrated to the U.S.A. in 2002. Over the years, I've known a number of immigrants who were able to learn English as a second language since Elementary school, so even though they speak with an accent and may not have a complete knowledge of English, they speak well enough to get along fairly well in English speaking countries, or even to attend university.
Not so for my hubby. The school he attended didn't offer English until, like here in the states, high school, as an elective. He did take an English class, but learned and retained little from it, other than standard greetings and the names of a few items.
Kinda like me with high school French. I can count to ten, say paper, pen and crayon, my name is Charlotte (my "French class name"), and have to following exchange with an imaginary French person:
~ Bon Jour MadameA handy thing to know if I meet someone who's not doing very well! Luckily, as an adult, I worked for a French company for a while, and picked up just a few more words. Not many, and I can't construct a sentence, but talking to French people daily helped with my accent!
"Bon Jour Monsieur"
~ Como tale vous?
"Bien, merci, et trois?"
~ Pas tres bien.
~ Au revoir Madame
"Au revoir Monsieur!
Anyway, so Mohammed didn't really begin to learn much useful English until he got to America and began taking ESL and college courses, and ten years later it's still a daily learning experience. Which means that on most days, we have at least one exchange where we just aren't quite getting each other. Like, I think we're not even having the same conversation. I refer to these as our "Lucy & Desi" moments. I've been saying for years I was going to document them, so here we go.
Earlier, the washing machine was making loud noises as if it had an unbalanced load (I was washing bedding), so later on he was down in the basement watching working out, and a little while ago he called up to me from the basement, saying:
Him: Yeah, I'm cleaning the top of the machine because it's noisy.
Me: What ???
Me: Did you say you cleaned the top of the machine because it's noisy?
Him: Yeah, the sheets were not level, they were all on one side.
Me: OK, but what does that have to do with cleaning the top of the machine?
Him: THE SHEETS WERE NOT LEVEL, THEY WERE ALL ON ONE SIDE!
Me: Riiight. OK, but, what does that have to do with cleaning the top?
Him: What are you talking about? I said the sheets were not level!
Me: Sigh . . . . (nevermind, I think I'll just go sit down now).
The problem here is that when he said he was "cleaning the top," I pictured him wiping off the lid of the washer...whereas he actually meant that he was "clearing"
the upper portion of laundry that was inside.
Clearing, not cleaning.