Parting Glances: Oh, rupture; I besmooch you!

By |2018-01-15T20:11:51-05:00November 25th, 2004|Uncategorized|

Sometime in the late-60s when I lived in an off-campus apartment with Larry, my then lifetime partner (eight years was enough for two lifetimes) we got acquainted with a college prof named Ferd.
Ferd had written a topnotch marketing textbook, and if I recall correctly it was he who came up with the bright idea of selling Crisco using red, white, and blue as merchandising colors. While this seems a no-brainer, back then it was novel product sell.
We invited Ferd to dine, and I whipped up my famous macaroni piccata-alotta, a concoction garnished with potato chips, peas, capers, and red kidney beans. Ferd sat through our candlelight gala — ending jubilantly with a Sara Lee cheesecake, pistachio ice cream, peach surprise — without a professorial hint of culinary-enduced dyspepsia.
The good prof got quite upset, however, when I made the mistake of putting on a Disraeli Gear LP without asking permission. “Courtesy requires that one always ask first if the guest wants to hear music after a challenging dessert, and, second, if he likes the choice — equally challenging — of music to be sampled,” he said a tad arch.
We next saw Ferd two years later. He’d been to Tokyo as a visiting lecturer and returned triumphantly with an attractive (albeit orchidaceous) young man named Fume, age 23. Over a Stouffer’s (non-challenging) luncheon, Larry and I learned that Ferd had become a celebrity of sorts in Japan and Fume was his adoring catch.
Apparently this 60s-something, bespectacled gentleman, with a pencil-thin mustache and a lively instep — whose looks one might describe as uneventful by our exacting ab-fab standards — was the Japanese idea of an American sexpot. Ferd wound up on magazine covers, radiated full-tenured macho on TV talk shows, and was blushingly bowed to wherever he went.
He and Fume (a translator of American books) were about to ride off into the sunset on the Orient Express. Over our farewell coffee I imagined the two of them holding hands, blissfully watching the scenery, and humming “Un bel dei” from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Pinkerton and Cio-Cio-San, reunited at last.
What occasioned this reverie is a new paperback, “Here Speeching American: A Very Strange Guide to English as It is Garbled Around the World.” (Villard Books; $9.95) I offer samples for my not infrequently garbled readers. (Keep in mind: we Americans mangle foreign tongues with Yankee “no how” wherever we go.)
Some Japanese pop bands: The Pees; Sound Masturbation; Bathtub Shitters; Flying Testicles; HIDE the Spread Beaver, Dog Hairdressers, and Congenital Haemmhoroids. Menu items: Fried Uterus, Coca-Cola pepsi, Tasteless Soup, Spaghetti Boneless, and Cockbum port.
Hong Kong kung fu subtitle: “I am sure you will not mind that I remove your manhoods and leave them out on the dessert flour for your aunts to eat.” Budapest hotel sign: “All rooms not denounced by twelve o’clock will be paid for twicely.”
Genoa Opera Company translation of Carmen, Act IV: “A place in Seville. Procession of Ball-fighters. The roaring of balls is heard in the arena. Aria and chorus: ‘Toreador, Toreador. All hail the Balls of a toreador.’ Enter Don Jose singing, ‘I besmooch you.’ Carmen repels him. He stabbs her. Aria: Oh, rupture, rupture.'”
And as the sun sets in carefree Indonesia, this brochure come on: “If we are lucky we will see duck boys home, men massaging their cocks on the road, cow boys taking grass. Yes it is a wonderful experience.” I can well imagine.
Go Gay shampoo (Yugoslavia). Piccata-alotta! (My place.)

About the Author:

Charles Alexander