Say Something in English

“We’re invited to a party tonight,” I told Mike. “It’s a party for the English-speaking people of the town.”

“I guess that leaves out all the non-English-speaking people,” he said.

It was a get-together hosted by the British locals for a visiting pastor from The Isle. They must have felt sorry for us colonists because we didn’t have one – a real live, fresh from jolly old England family – and decided to share them with us. They are so lively and fun (forget the staid, droll stereotype), it makes me wonder why we made such a fuss about those nasty old taxes King George levied. After all, we’re taxed more now and nobody’s shooting at President George’s men. (This was back when one of the George’s was in power, uh, office.)

Anyway, back in my living room . . . “I can tell you right now you won’t be able to understand half what they say,” I said. “I either just nod my head and fake it, or ask for them to repeat it over and over.” I had some experience with this back during the hooplah over Prince Charles and Lady Di’s royal wedding. Boy, was that some celebration by the British locals!

I get a longsuffering look. “Who is it who watches all the BBC programs and documentaries?” he asked. “And who has to translate for who?”

“Whom,” I shot back.

Sure enough, when we arrived at the party, the Union Jack took up one whole wall. When the reverend and family arrived he looked about and commented, “So this is where all the British brides went. Looks like you’ve all weathered well. You married to get to America, didn’t you? Come on, admit it.” (“Mum” was the word).

They all had stories to trade, and one lady, who had lived and worked in America for many years, laughingly told how her bedazzled co-workers would ask her to say something in English. So she just said “hello”. One lady came to the party in a vintage automobile she had dubbed, “M’lady Effie”. “M’lady just had her 21st birthday,” she announced proudly. Mike only had to translate once for the British pronunciation of “advertisement”, so I think I did “rawthah” well.

As the guests of honor waved good-bye to their adoring fans, their 12-year-old son lifted his hand and yelled, “Ta-ta.”

“Cheerio,” came the united response.

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