Confused Owl

“I can’t wait to see Balboa!”

My in-laws announced this often in the months leading up to our trip to Spain. They meant Bilbao, but the cultural influence of Rocky combined with their (ahem) creative use of language always won out.

I try to learn as much of the language as I can when heading to a non-English speaking country. But I also have to brush up on Turner, this strange means by which my husband’s family attempts communication. To them, “reefer” means “refrigerator.” Maybe they think Reefer Madness was a kitchen comedy.

It’s not uncommon for them to write out a shopping list that includes “paper plates and bowels.”

Examples of Turner-Speak from our recent trip to Spain:

“I took a great picture through the crotch of a tree,” said my father-in-law. Begging the question… do trees have crotches?

“I’m a big vegetable…” My mother-in-law meant to say “vegetable lover,” but the last word went unsaid and implied, leaving nothing but the assertion that my mother-in-law… is a big vegetable.

“This place is downright…” and then my mother-in-law tried to say the word “medieval.” But what came out was a cross between “methadone” and “devalue.” Sort of like “methvalue.” No one commented. We all knew what she meant.

And then there was this exchange with Marisol, the Spanish proprietor of a rural inn:

Como se dice en your language ‘muy bien’?”

Marisol looked confused, so my mother-in-law naturally repeated the question.

Como se dice en your language ‘muy bien’?”

“Mom,” Mike said. “Just stop talking.”

But she was already going for the third try, “Como se dice en your language ‘muy bien’?”

Muy bien?” Marisol guessed hesitantly, as if this were a trick question. Which I guess it was.

“Mom!” Mike spoke louder to be heard. “You are asking her how to say a Spanish phrase… in Spanish.”

She thought about this for a moment before nodding. “Oh, I guess you’re right. It would just be muy bien. It’s just that sometimes it’s not clear that she’s speaking Spanish.”

I’m not sure what my mother-in-law thought Marisol might be speaking, as it was clear to the rest of us that Marisol spoke only Spanish.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

Turner Wedding

This year they’ll celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Here’s to all the butchered language yet to come.


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