Saturday, August 15, 2009

Windfall – the blind leading the deaf or vice versa




I find myself unexpectedly child free for the first time in months. My daughter and Mr.B remove them to a fun, family friendly and completely enclosed location. As I wave good bye I am suddenly overwhelmed with a myriad of choices. I could do anything I want but what?

I watch the car turn the corner and have a clearer view of my neglected garden. Of course. The garden centre. I dash back inside for my list, buried under heaps of heaps when Nonna appears. We bimble through our ‘good morning’ routine for the seventh time but she is in an exceptionally good humour, as am I.
“Wot you do den you lucky woman?” I pause, because I am inherently selfish. Precious moments of alone time should not be wasted. At the same time I note that she wears the same set of clothes that she has been wearing for three days running. I also know that she always changes into fresh clothes if we leave the house. I do not wish to delay for 30 minutes whilst she makes herself presentable but of course there are so many different things that I do not want. I am so good at pretending to be nice but wicked thoughts are always there. Fortunately I have my other mother’s Roman Catholic sticks to beat myself with: if you can’t do it with good grace then don’t do it at all.
“Tell you what! Do you fancy a trip to the garden centre?”
“Ooo yes……no……..yes…….just a minute……let me change.” She trots off with haste as I search around for a book to read. How much can you read in 30 minutes? Not very many if someone’s nicked your book. I refuse to pout and cook instead. Before too long she reappears on full beam, “right den!” and off we plod.

At the garden centre we are at peace and at one, a joint therapy session. Her delight is a delight and I am thoroughly delighted myself. We stroll through Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Camellias and Salvias because we enjoy the same language and have perfect recall. She marvels at the textures and scents, the abundance known as Home Depot. “Wot a size dey all are!”
“Yup, everything is bigger and better in America.”
“Look at dat ting. It is a giant I tink.” She pats the leaves as she moves her body into different viewing positions.

A youthful chap approaches Nonna to ask her something, something that she does not understand or maybe cannot hear. She flaps an arm in my direction so I whiz over to intervene or help or translate. “I don know wot ee sayz,” she stage whispers.
“Hello, can I help?”
“Dya wanna caught?” he says, nodding towards the flower pots.
“Wot ee say?”
“Er…..caught…..what’s a caught?” I beam.
“You know eee said caught. Wot it is a caught?”
“I’m not sure. What is a caught?”
“Ya know….for the flowers…….all the flowers in your cart.”
“Hmm I’m not sure what a caught is, sorry.”
“Did eee say caught or court or cart?”
“I’m not sure. I’m sorry, I don’t think I know that word.”
“Just caught, ya know, for the flowers.”
“Ow come you don know dis word? You are an American now. It is an American word I tink? Maybe ee say chord……or cord…….or cored…..wot you tink?”
“I have no idea.” It’s worse than a cross word puzzle. “Sorry I wonder if you could explain caught?”
I try lip reading but it doesn’t help one bit.
“Cawed…….I don know wot ee say. Gawd it’s impossible.” She taps her ear in the hope of sparkling life into her hearing aid, although that’s not really the issue.
“Caught!” he yells, but ever so politely. “Wait up.” He turns his back and walks away to fetch something. He returns with a plastic tray, “here……a caught.”
“Ooo is that what it’s called. Thank you. I didn’t know that.”
“Oh you stupid girl,” she giggles, and I must say that I do indeed feel very stupid. It’s odd to think that I now have a whole new source of a thousand different ways to be stupid.
“Yeah…….I just thought y’know…….which size……..but most of em are quart.”
“Quart! Oh, quart!”
“Wot ee say?”
“Quart……with a ‘q’………quart sized flower pots.”
“Dey measure dere plants by liquid volume? Not centimeters?”
“Yes……I forgot.” I thank the man who leaves, good natured but mystified by foreigners. Nonna pats the quart tray, “you’d better be careful I tink.”
“Careful? About what?”
“Dat you are not forgetting too much or you’ll be old before your time.”
“And what time would that be do you suppose?”
“Time for a coffee I tink.”


9 comments:

Sophie said...

What a fun outing, despite the language frustrations. I had no idea what he was asking about either! How nice that you were able to have a kid-free day just to play, and what a sweetheart you are for taking Nonna with you. Did you plant a lot of pretty things? Garden therapy always works for me!

Chris H said...

Geeeze... I wouldn't have know what he was saying either!
I hope the coffee was nice after all that!

Chris H said...

OH and I bet Nonna just loves being taken out and about! You said she didn't wander out of the yard anymore, but she no doubt loves going out with her family.

Robin said...

I've been living abroad for twenty years already and I'm still baffled occasionally by language oddities. And then I too find that a sit-down for coffee generally does the trick quite nicely indeed :-).

jinksy said...

Once again, people divided by a common language?

jams o donnell said...

bibling? I haven't heard anyone use that in ages Maddy!

Niksmom said...

Delightful! I'll bet the outing did more for Nonna than you realize. :-)

Akelamalu said...

What a delightful story! Sounds like you made good use of your day without the children. :)

Thanks for visiting me and taking the time to comment. :)

Joeymom said...

How very odd. I would have assumed he meant a cart. Around here, they don't ask us if we want quarts. If there are different sizes, its do you want a small one or a big one. :P