jonathan stone's blog

. . . posts on faith and life

Mate Ocet?

Yesterday morning my daughter, Eloise, woke up and told me that she wanted a muffin for breakfast. We did not have any muffins. I guess I could have made her some, but I could tell that this request was not going to wait patiently for the time it would take to be Betty Crocker. And since Eloise had just recovered from a high fever the previous day I decided that her wish was my command.

So I left Jon with the girls, put my coat on, stuffed my wet head into a hat, and made the laborious journey across the street to get the requested muffin (I am joking here). The following conversation takes place:

Me (with a bored, I do this all of the time kind of look): “Dobry Den. Jedna muffin, jedna zapecany croissant, a jedna malinovy croissant” (Good day. One muffin, one special croissant (with ham and cheese), and one plain croissant” I deliberately leave off the “Dom si” which means something like “Give me” or “I would like to order”. It seems to make me appear that much more of a tourist.

Woman behind counter (with a smile!!): “A bunch of czech words I do not understand” (however, from the context I can tell that she is asking me if I want anything else or something similar)

Me, again with a bored look that says I completely understood what she was saying: “Ne. Ceckno. Sebou. ” (No. That is all. To go.)

Woman behind counter: “A bunch of czech words I do not understand” (however, from the context I can tell that she is letting me know how much all of this costs)

Me, bored again, after looking at the cash register on the sly (well, not so much on the sly, I guess) to see how much it cost: I count out my money and hand it to her.

She gives to me my food, smiles, and winks at me as I leave as if to say: “You are trying so hard. I can tell you aren’t czech, but thanks for trying!”

I walk out of the restaurant with my head held high, proudly bringing my daughter her muffin, ready to begin my day.

These types of exchanges are a favorite new pastime for me: conversations that require little in response that I cannot understand anyway, but some result is accomplished. It really does no good if I ask someone “Where is the store” or something similar. I will not be able to understand their response. Ahhh, but keep it to yes or no answers and things I can know in context and then I feel like I am a real czech speaker! Like the other day when I needed to buy some vinegar, but did not feel like walking to the larger grocery store a few blocks away. I went downstairs and asked the lady at the potraviny (small corner markets): “Mate ocet?” (Do you have vinegar?) She gestures and says things of which I have no understanding, but this I get: “Yes, it is over there.” Does it matter that I understand nothing of what she actually says? Nope. I still walk home with the vinegar!


One comment on “Mate Ocet?

  1. robin
    February 2, 2006

    way to go emily. I’m so proud of you girl. love to all, aunt Robin

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This entry was posted on February 1, 2006 by in Uncategorized.
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