The scariest dreams one can have are where you’re stuck in a dangerous situation and no one can help you. There are so many people around you, so many familiar faces of people you love and admire–and they can’t hear you. They don’t help. They don’t see you, listen, respond, or attempt to assist you in your distress in any way. You’re alone. You’re helpless. Speechless–and there’s nothing you can do about it.
That’s exactly what it feels like to be at Adrian’s family functions.
Adrian’s family immigrated from Hungary and speak mostly Hungarian at home. I, being from anywhere but Hungary, do not speak the language. The first three years of hanging around with in-laws and friends has been me washing dishes alone, swigging Hungarian moonshine and just knowing that everyone is talking bad about me because I can’t understand.
I have attempted to learn several times.
Attempt 1, Marriage Year 0:
Adrian’s uncle flew in from a city with more than a reasonable amount of K’s in its name, and trying to be kind to a new family member, I learned how to say, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry, but I don’t speak much Hungarian.” When he finally came in and greeted me, I slammed that shit out like I was a goddamn CIA translator.
When he started to laugh so hard that he couldn’t breathe, I realized I might not have said it correctly. Adrian, watching from the couch, corralled his laughter long enough to tell me that the word for ‘speak’ is very close to the word for ‘grandmother,’ and that it screwed with the sentence structure–a lot.
I had, unprompted and with way too much enthusiasm, loudly declared to his uncle that, “It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry, but I hate to speak to your grandmother very well.”
To be fair, I really don’t enjoy it that much. She’s also dead, which makes things harder.
Attempt 2, Marriage Year 1:
My Mother-in-law kindly purchased me a Hungarian picture dictionary, meant for children and adults like me who need colorful pictures to assist in basic language journeys. It was a great book and much appreciated; indeed it helped me memorize a large number of words in Hungarian.
It did not, however, teach me Hungarian sentence structure; which is exceedingly, absurdly difficult to learn. Whenever someone attempted to speak to me in Hungarian, I would stitch together a motley assortment of words that kind-of fit as an answer, which led to the following interactions–so close, and yet so far.
Do you have any pets?
Yes. Delicious cat.
What do you do for a living?
What is your husband’s name?
Where are you from?
Would you like some more soup?
No distended baby.
I am truly a master of words.
Attempt 3, Marriage Year 2:
At a huge Easter gathering, in a very crowded kitchen, I offered homemade peach cobbler to an Aunt who speaks no English. Apparently the word ‘Peach’ with an American Southern Accent sounds exactly like the word ‘Pussy’ in Hungarian.
This particular aunt did not want a piece of my pussy cobbler.
Attempt 4, Marriage Year 3: Current Attempt
I am back on the wagon and determined that I will, once and for all, learn to speak proper Hungarian. I understand Spanish, I was once able to read and understand Japanese–why should this be so difficult? I logged on to the greatest website ever to learn a language (not sponsored, just fucking great), and began my lessons.
The first thing I learned how to say in grammatically correct Hungarian is, “You are not a man. You are a woman.” Gender identification and confusion is apparently a larger problem than I realized in Hungary.
This explains so much about Adrian’s family.
Ever had an instance where you were wildly misunderstood, or misunderstood someone else? Ever learned a new language (or tried) and miserably failed?– Favorite Comment From The Last Post: From Jen: “Either way, Jeremy Renner’s man-flesh will be mine…oh yes, it will be mine.”