Sunday, March 11, 2012

What did I say?

What did I say?!

Communication breakdowns can be a frequent occurrence when living abroad, sometimes to disastrous effect, at other times hilarious.

Rachel frequently has lunch out with her colleagues.  On this day in particular, they went to an African restaurant close to work. 

A little background on Ethiopian cuisine might be useful.  Rachel and I loved an Ethiopian place in Baltimore called Dukem.  Typically, we would order the vegetarian platter, a variety of vegetarian lentils, potatoes and other sauteed, simmered deliciousness sitting atop Injera- the Ethiopian bread.  Injera is a bread that more closely resembles a thicker, spongier crepe, OR a spongier, blander pancake.  
In any event, Rachel and her colleagues were enjoying good food and good conversation.  By the end of the meal, the Injera tends to soak up lots of liquids and juices.  Therefore, its consistency towards the end can be summed up by one word -  mushy.  With this in mind, Rachel informed her colleagues she was finished and wasn't going to eat the mushy part. 

With these words, her colleagues- a man and two women- all reacted rather strangely.  Silverware was dropped, one woman turned red and had a raised-eyebrows look of dismay on her face, another began to tear up from stifled laughter, the man became very embarrassed and wouldn't make eye contact with Rachel. 

“What?”, queried Rachel, “What did I say?”
None of her colleagues responded but their laughter mounted.

“What? Was it ‘Mushy’? Tell me what it means!”
Laughter at Rachel’s expense continued.
“What does it mean? Ok, fine. If you don't tell me what it means, I'll just shout it a few more times!”, she continued loudly, “MUSHY, MUSHY, MUSHY, MUSHY...”

Finally her colleagues couldn't take it any longer.  They shushed Rachel.  One brave female colleague informed her, "MUSHY in German means, um, the opposite of a Willy."

Oh! That explains it.

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