Sunday, 13 February 2011
Mind the Gap
Andrea came for a English conversation lesson as he does every Saturday morning. He is 25, tall, slim and predictably good-looking. His manners are impeccable. He has a degree in engineering and a good job, a nice new car, a very attractive girlfriend who he will almost certainly marry and they will have two gorgeous children and a wonderful, happy, fulfilled life together. All in all he is an extremely nice, decent chap. Obviously I dislike him intensely.
Anyhoo, yesterday the conversation meandered hither and thither and talking about last weekend he happened to mention that he had had gastric flu and, returning from a day out on Sunday, ha vomitato as soon as he got home. "The English verb is vomit, yes? So I vomited?" he inquired pleasantly. "Well, you're right there but we don't use it that much. We tend to say 'I was sick' which is the word we also use for when we are ill. It takes its meaning from the context. Between friends 'though, you would probably say 'I threw up". He was busy writing down this new vocabulary. Very precise is Andrea.
"Of course Andrea, there are many slang references to being sick, the Australians in particular have many funny ways of describing the act of throwing up." "Really?" he asked innocently. "Well, one that was very popular was 'calling God on the big white telephone'. I looked at Andrea, his brow creasing with thought. "Why call God.." he asked, thinking out loud, "...to ask to make you better?" "Not really, it's more when you have had too much too drink and you have to be sick..." and here I got down on my knees and made a circle with my arms around an imaginary lavatory bowl at which his quizzical look deepened, "..ohhhhhhh God", fake retch, "ohhhhhh God", fake retch.
I looked up, through my tears of near laughter, at his face, blank with disbelief, as I struggled to stand up, wondering if he would be coming back next week.