I thought that's what I just said

Today I felt like Inspector Clouseau.

It happens every day.  I know the Thai word.  I say the Thai word correctly, or so I think.  Just the other day I was asking a store owner if she had a Thailand flag.  I asked if she had a “tong”.  She looked at me in confusion.  I repeated the word: tong.  She still had no idea what I was talking about.  I even said I was looking for a Thailand “tong”.  No go.  I eventually found her Thailand flag hanging and pointed to it.

Her face brightened and she said, “Tong!”  I really thought that’s what I was saying the whole time.  Obviously, I’m speaking the word correctly, only with a heavy American-Minnesota accent.

I’m a little more civil that the classy Inspector Clouseau.  In almost every Pink Panther film, the inspector (played to perfection by Peter Sellers) finds his heavy French accent working against him.  In The Pink Panther Strikes Again Inspector Clouseau needs to check into a German hotel.  He asks the desk clerk, “Do you have a room?”  Only, he rolls his “r” on “room” while his accent takes control of the word making it sound more like “reum”.

“I do not know what a ‘reum’ is,” the clerk says.

Clouseau looks in his pocket dictionary and says the German word for room.


The clerk brightens and says, “Ah!  A room!”

Clouseau glares at the man and says, “That is what I’ve been saying, you idiot.”

Once again, I’m gaining new empathies every day.

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.