My brain shuts off when I feel tired, and when my brain shuts off I just stop speaking English coherently and bounce between languages at random.Usually I am lucky – it normally only happens when I am home. The only victim then is my English-speaking husband who might ask me a question and hear me answering in Armenian (or Russian).
In 2012 I went to Chicago to participate at the NATO Summit. After a 16-hour flight from Yerevan, Armenia I could hardly stay awake. I don’t remember how I got to the hotel, met other participants, or even mingled with some NATO employees. What I remember very well, though, is what happened at Dick’s Last Resort that day. It was one of those moments that I wanted to turn into an ostrich and bury my head in the sand.
After I got off the plane and met some of the other participants, we decided we were hungry and went to Dick’s to get food. The waiter, who was a young man with short blond hair and clean face, asked what I wanted to drink. Instead of ordering water (what I usually do), I said “Coke, please.” Unfortunately I didn’t pronounce it like the word ‘poke’ but instead pronouncing it as a… term for a male chicken.
“Pardon me?”- the poor waiter asked with his eyes widened
“Coke”,- I answered, once again mispronouncing in the most unfortunate way possible.
He started laughing – and he was not the only one. My co-participants who were sitting next to me were bursting out with laughter. I looked around confused, I could not understand what I said that was so funny!
“Do you mean ‘coke’?” – he finally corrected me, pronouncing it properly.
“I want Coca Cola,” I replied in a shy voice, feeling extremely ashamed of my English.
In a few moments he came back for the order. I said I wanted crabby balls. I swear it was written “crabby balls” in the menu, and the description said they were balls made from crab meat! But the waiter started giggling again. I am pretty sure he associated ‘balls’ with … umm… you know what.
“You made my day today,” he told me when he stopped giggling.
I quickly finished eating and walked back to my hotel. I crushed on my bed and a moment later the only thing you could hear in my room was my unstoppable laughter.