How Do You Translate Incoherent Rage?

, , , | Related | September 19, 2020

I immigrate from the Netherlands to Canada when I am sixteen. I marry a Canadian several years later, and quite a few years after that, we go to visit my extended family in the Netherlands. My husband does not speak Dutch and my family is too shy to speak English, so I do a lot of translating.

One day, my uncle and cousin take us for a scenic drive. My cousin speaks almost non-stop, giving a World War II history lesson. I’m getting more and more frustrated about having to try and translate the torrent of information. At one point, we stop at a local fast food restaurant, and he continues talking. I finally say:

Me: “Okay, I am not translating anything for the next thirty minutes. I need some time to relax and maybe have my own thoughts in my head, so stop! No more!”

He turns around and looks at me.

Cousin: “That’s okay. I will just continue in English.”

And he did. Apparently, he had lived in London for some time and spoke English just fine.

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She’s Always Listening. Always.

, , , , , , | Related | September 17, 2020

I frequently stay with my cousin’s children for days on end so they’re not alone at night while my cousin picks up shifts in the ER. On this particular occasion, it’s been a few months since I’ve been over, due to moving across the country with my own parents; I’ve just recently come back to the state. As such, the kids have grown some, and my cousin has made some new and unexpected additions to the house.

Typically, when I watch the kids, I let them do their own thing — they’re very self-sufficient due to their family situation — and spend the time doing my own work from their living room. This time, I’ve got Hulu playing in the background while I write. My cousin’s subscription is the tier that includes occasional ads in the video, which isn’t a problem… usually.

On this day, it’s nearly 11:00 pm, and I’m halfway through an extensive and mind-consuming writing contract. The show I’m watching in the background cuts to a commercial, and as it ends, I vaguely hear the ad.

Ad: “Alexa, play Disney Hits Radio.”

Cue the Alexa I was unaware my cousin had installed behind me.

Alexa: “I’M MALICIOUS, MEAN, AND SCARY!”

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Bad Grammar Is Incredibly Offensive!

, , , , , | Related | June 22, 2020

When I am a kid, my extended family gets together to watch sporting events on TV. One night, we’re watching a basketball game when the officiating crew makes a terrible call. My cousin, age eight, is irate.

Cousin: “Them b******s!”

There is a collective gasp at hearing a kid swear so loudly. My aunt opens her mouth to chastise him, but my grandmother beats her to it.

Grandmother: “[Cousin]! How dare you?! You know better than that!”

Cousin: “I’m sorry!”

Grandmother: “How many times am I going to have to tell you? It’s not ‘THEM B******S,’ it’s ‘THOSE B******S’!”

Ladies and gentlemen, my grandma, the English teacher.

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You Can Take The Girl Out Of Canada…

, , , , , , , | Romantic | June 9, 2020

My cousin learned to speak French at an early age and developed a great interest in French culture. In her mid-twenties, she moved to France, fell in love with a French man, and married him.

A couple of years later, the two of them came back to Canada to visit, and a few of us went to the pub. My cousin perked up visibly as soon as the first pint of beer arrived in front of her, and she was obviously distracted from the conversation by the hockey game on the TV in the corner. Her husband, meanwhile, began to wilt more and more until he was almost pouting. When my cousin looked around and noticed this, she leaned over and the two of them had a brief conversation in French. After this, he didn’t look happy exactly but more resigned than miserable. 

Later, I asked her, “Hey, what was all of that about?”

She shrugged. “Oh, you know, when you’re married to an immigrant, you’re always worried that they miss their home country and they’ll never feel like their adopted culture is really home,” she explained. “When he saw me having fun at the pub in that really Canadian way, it sort of poked him in the insecurity, that’s all.”

“Okay, but what did you say to him?”

“Oh, something like, ‘My darling, I love you, and I love France. I wouldn’t be there with you if I didn’t. But no matter how true that is, I was still born in Canada, and the day that I don’t also love hockey and beer is the day you can put me in the ground.'”


This story has been included in our June 2020 roundup as one of that month’s most memorable stories!

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Putting Words In The Pastor’s Mouth

, , , , , , , | Related | May 25, 2020

My cousin told this story at my uncle’s funeral. I thought it was hilarious.

My cousin, his wife, and his parents all go to church together. My cousin’s wife is heavily pregnant at the time. A new associate pastor is joining the church that day, and after the service, he stands at the back so everyone can greet him and introduce themselves. His wife stands next to him, and she is also heavily pregnant.

When my cousin and his wife reach the new pastor, he says, “I see your wife has the same ailment that mine has!” Everyone gives a polite chuckle, except my uncle, who glares at the new pastor and doesn’t say a word as he shakes his hand next.

My uncle still looks annoyed when they get in the car. My cousin asks him what is up.

Uncle: “That wasn’t right. A pastor shouldn’t say things like that.”

Cousin: “What do you mean?”

Uncle: “That was just rude. To say that his wife and [Cousin’s Wife] have the same mailman!”

And my cousin said that was the earliest indication that my uncle’s hearing had started to go.

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