The early Bird Gets the Random Vocabulary

antsThis morning as I walk home from the shop, I bump into my favorite neighbor. He is a friendly old man, a retired gynecologist who is always out in the morning walking his dog. Even if he was rude to me he would be my favorite neighbor by default, since he is the only one who speaks to me or acknowledges my existence.

Still, as I approach the man, I review the area around us with extreme caution and suspicion. Nothing. Everything is fine. So far. The man speaks to me in Czech and I work my hardest to keep up the conversation. We talk about the weather and the neighbors and the fact that the summer is moving along in warm fashion.

And then I am attacked by ants.

They storm up and down my legs, pausing here and there to prod me with their pincers. I dance and avoid, wince and brush them off, the neighbor squints at me a little. You know, the way you would squint at a person who spontaneously burst into dancing while having a chat about the weather. As the little picnic crashers bring me to new levels of aggravation, I word the statement in my head to explain my behavior.

But I am lacking the word for ant. Normally, ant isn’t high on my list of lexical priorities. But now that they are eating me, it is. I stammer through a request for this word, pointing down at my legs. He nods politely and mentions the coming heat.

This is really par for the course.

Every time we meet some very unusual situation arises. A few weeks ago his dog humped his leg in an all out attempt to impregnate his calf. A few weeks earlier a lesbian couple got into an argument nearby and threw ceramics at each other. A few days before that altercation, a man asked us to help him move his wood chipper into his yard.

And those are not entirely unusual occurrences for our conversations. We have been shat on by birds, infiltrated by hedgehogs, and hailed upon. Every time I chat with him I risk being attacked by nature, put to hard labor, or witnessing a minor disaster.

These things would not matter so much if I didn’t have to deal with them in the Czech language. Thus, I have to come up with random Czech words and phrases. Why is that lesbian throwing that bowl? Do hedgehogs usually charge like that? Why does this man need a wood chipper? Have you seen Fargo? These hail stones really hurt.

And today – I am being attacked by ants.

I have often wondered what this gentleman says when he gets home to his wife. Does he walk into his home mortified and exhausted only to tell his wife that he was snagged by the accident prone neighbor again? Does he count his lucky stars that he escaped our chat unscathed? Or does he just think I am a lunatic? As a gynecologist he surely has heard weird questions in his life. What is this thing growing out of my vagina? But as I have neither a vagina nor growths protruding from it, this might be different territory.

Today, after I brush off all the ants I tell him that I am off for the summer. He says goodbye and shakes my hand, a look of genuine relief covers his face. We both wander towards our flats. He has to bring the dog in and I have to put Neosporin on my ant bites.

At least I have learned my random vocab word for the day. And I am sure the neighbor has some other vocabulary to teach me with ease. For example, phrases such as weird American must be right at the top of this list.

Comments are closed.