Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lost in Translation

We had a baby group at work today. (Side note: Burmese babies are the cutest babies in the entire world and I am always scheming as how to get myself a Burmese baby. Unfortunately for me, any baby that comes out of me is NOT going to look like a Burmese baby, no matter what I do.) Anyways, our program's baby groups replace the regularly scheduled well-baby checkup which means that babies get naked and weighed for their vitals.

This particularly baby group had all three and four-month-old babies. Truly the best part about that age is just how fat the babies get. They have rolls on their thighs--roll upon roll upon roll. It's most certainly a product of being in the baby furniture stage. Babies that age are like seals storing up their fat for when they start becoming mobile and then they just burn through that fat and become lean again. (Another side-note. All of our babies in that group were well above the 75th percentile in both weight and height which just warms the cockles of my heart. So healthy and strong!)

At one point, I was holding a chubby boy who was wearing nothing but a diaper. He had these luscious, squeezable rolls and I had the sudden desire to just gently bite his soft thighs like I used to do to The Bean at that age. I turned to our interpreter, a lovely middle-aged gentleman, and asked him if there were any affection expressions in Burmese that expressed a desire to eat a child. I was thinking along the lines of the English phraseology of, "He's so cute, I just want to eat him up!" or "I just want to nibble his thighs!"

However, "S" immediately gave me a look of panicked alarm and I realized how culturally relevant expressions about eating children are. After I explained what I meant (i.e. terms of endearment, because the fat rolls are so kissable and naturally, kissing leads to biting, just a figure of speech, etc., etc.) he had a good chuckle and assured me that, no, there was not an equivalent turn of phrase or idea in Burmese.

But at least now I've realized how the rumors that white people eat ethnic babies got started.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chop Chop

One of the most annoying things about moving is having to find a new salon. The entire three years that we lived in ABQ, I never once found a salon that I liked. After the first year, I pretty much gave up getting my hair cut. It's been a long time since my last hair cut. It was time. I found an ad in a local paper (support local business, right?) for a salon the next block over and made an appointment yesterday.

The stylist was a nice older gentleman and he did a great cut. Unfortunately for me, the style (blunt, chin-length bob) makes me look like I'm about 12. I profusely thanked him, tipped him well and then left with a sinking heart. I hated my hair.

But more than hating my haircut, I hate the fact that I lied. I had the sinking feeling as he was cutting that the style that I requested was not the style that I envisioned in my head. And yet, I effusively thanked him.

Why is it so hard to tell someone that I don't like a service they did for me at the time the service is rendered? I mean, I flat out lied to the man. I tipped him 20% for crying out loud! What the fuck? Why am I sitting here the next day, dreading going into work on Tuesday because I know that my haircut is not flattering? Why do I feel the need to help a hairstylist who I don't know save face? Am I afraid to hurt his feelings?

I think perhaps this is an American trait. Or an American woman trait. I have several coworkers who are not American who flat-out tell you what they don't like. You ask them if you look fat in this dress, they'll tell you yes. No sugar-coating it by saying "Oh, I think it brings out your eyes!" They'll just say, "Yes, it does." And you know what? Said dress probably does make me look fat! Better to not wear it again than naively walk around thinking I look svelte when really I look like a Guernsey cow. In the long run, an honest opinion is far better than a lie (for fashion, anyways. Perhaps not other things?).

I really do think I need to do a better job of being honest when people ask for my opinions.

Especially if I'm paying them.