What do you get when you put two immigrants together in a phone conversation, each with a different mother tongue, one whose second language is English and the other who speaks French?
You get broken telephone, of course.
Thirty years ago my best friend Marisa brought a bottle of wine to my father’s 60th birthday dinner. After the party, my dad wanted to call all the party guests, including Marisa, to thank them for coming and for the gifts they brought. I gave him Marisa’s number and forgot about it.
Next time I spoke to my friend, I asked her if she’d received a call from my dad. She looked puzzled at first until something slowly dawned on her.
Apparently she was out when my dad called and he had tried to leave a message with her mother. Picture my English-speaking, East Indian dad trying to leave a message with my friend’s Italian mother in his broken French: « Papa, je suis, de Sharin. »
The message Marisa received from her mother was that a Jesuit Priest of the order of Sharin had called.
Marisa’s sister Pat said it best, « Why would a Jesuit Priest be calling you? »
The answer, in short, was he wouldn’t be.
On another note, I can’t believe we are the same age my father was at that birthday party. I thought he was so old then with his dusty bow ties and his dad mugs. Perspective and time changes everything.