Faux Pas5:10 AM
Since my last blog seemed to be downright morose, I thought I'd switch it up a bit and tell some of the many social delicacies I have trampled upon, smashed, and completely destroyed, in a mere two and a half weeks. My adherence to these graces in even my own country has oft been likened to the light footedness of a herd of cattle. And now I have had opportunities by the score, willing or no, to break even more social bounds, by being introduced to a new set of cultural do's and don'ts!
Awkward Example #1: Many of you, my friends, know that at about midnight I develop a vocal disorder that can only be described as a "900 number voice". Let it be said, I do nothing to procure this voice, but at the strike of twelve, as assuredly as Cinderella's coach turning into a pumpkin, my voice gets husky. Unfortunately, I have the tendency to forget this about myself, leading to many an awkward moment.
One of my first nights here, I was in the car with the other interns and I jokingly leaned over to Frank (Spanish boy) and said something in Spanish, (roughly translated "let's go play"), which can be taken very wrong when used in Rachel's midnight voice. Frank, instead of taking this in stride, freaks out and starts screaming at the top of his lungs, (in somewhat broken English, due solely to sheer terror), "SINNER!!!!!! There is a sinner on my left!!!! GO BACK TO AMERICA!!!!!!! AHHH!!!!!!". Apparently this wasn't enough of a demonstration, as he then rolled down his window and continued his Spanglish rant for all of Belfast.
Awkward Example # 2: Never, I repeat, never, mention some one's pants. Pants in "Norn Irish", equate to one's unmentionables, (plush velvet perhaps?;), a topic, I'm told, one should avoid with the male population in general. With my usual tact and charm, I mentioned to a fella the other day that I liked his pants, nearly causing him to spill coffee all over those beauties, while fumbling hysterically, before realizing I meant his trousers and wasn't trying to pick up on him in the church office.
Awkward Example #3: Although finding conversation starters with those four times your age can sometimes be difficult, it's best not to exclaim happily to a ninety-four year old woman that you think its great she's not dead yet, unlike your great-grandmother, who would have been her age!
Awkward Example # 4: Its probably best to leave Nazi talk at home. Now this one, I personally didn't do, but watched with awe as someone else leapt head first into the awkward deep end.
Queen's University is about a block away from Fisherwick. One of the main ministries in most of the churches around here, but particularly Fisherwick, is for the international students. Last Wednesday at a dinner for said internationals, a friend, whose name will go unmentioned, (love ya Alan! ;) and I were hosting a table full of students. Basically, we just had dinner with them and tried to get to know each of them and about where they came from, what they were studying ,etc. Alan was in the midst of a conversation with a German student, when he proudly announces that he knows a few German phrases and proceeded to scream, "ACHTUNG!! SHVINE, ACHTUNG!!!", naturally accompanied by the coinciding Nazi arm gestures. Let me just say that this might be the long sought after technique to silence a roomful of two hundred loud college students. These, and a few more, are good tips on how to successfully clear a room without even trying. More to come I am very sure.