Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cringeworthy mistakes

Many years ago, Paul and I lived in Germany.  We lived in a beautiful apartment that was in the bottom part of a beautiful house on top of a hill.  We went to the same fellowship as our landlords and became friends with them. One Saturday, we went away for the day.  When we got out, our landlady came running out- "Where were you?" she cried?  "We were at a seminar all day."  "What?  You were invited to Maren's birthday party!  We waited and waited for you to come!"  She was truly upset and I was truly puzzled.  Apparently at some point, we had a conversation in German about Maren's party.  My high school German had not held up enough to understand this and because of that, we hurt a little girl's feelings.  I still cringe when I think about that...and it was in 1987!

I have a lovely tutor who meets with me several times a week.  She has been incredibly helpful in helping me study Chinese and is just a wonderful person all around.  Last Spring, her brother was in a hit and run fatal accident and she has been gone for several months, dealing with all the legal matters.   While she was gone, several families helped her financially, as she is dependent upon tutoring for income.

So last week she called Paul.  His understanding of the phone call was that it had to do with a meal on Thursday night.  He said he would check with me.  She called me.  My understanding of the phone call and follow-up conversation was that she needed to change tutoring times and that she was cooking at our mutual friend's house on Thursday.  We also wanted her to tutor our daughter so that confused the conversation even more.
Fast forward to last Thursday night.  At 5:00, she called me to ask where we were.  I was confused and thought she wanted to tutor.  So I said that I forgot that she wanted to tutor that night.  She seemed shocked and put our mutual American friend on the phone.

My huge mistake!  Wo cuo le!  Bu hao yisi!  She had invited us to our mutual friend's apartment for a huge dinner.  It was her way of saying thank you for helping her during her hard time.  I was mortified.  Sick to my stomach.  I know that my Chinese isn't very good but I felt terrible that I had totally missed that invitation.

Elisabeth had too much homework to do so she didn't go.  Paul was at work but still managed to show up on time.  I packed up the baby and walked over to an amazing meal.  I apologized profusely but I still feel terrible.
The food was fantastic. Her husband is a cook and wow!  It was an 8 dish meal with spicy tofu, scallops and broccoli, two kinds of beef, eggplant and more.

I know these kinds of situations will happen again-language misunderstandings can not be avoided.  I am glad that she had a merciful and forgiving spirit.  But I think I'll be cringing about this for a long time.


Tanya said...

Aw, Sandy. Don't beat yourself up too much over it. hugs.

joannmski said...

Oh no! But that looks like a really yummy meal, I must say.

Anonymous said...

I was on Italian television on a cooking show, I had to read my recipe outloud, in Italian.on live TV. and I said Schiopero di lampone instead of schirropa di lampone, which means instead of saying raspberry syrup i said raspberry TRAIN STRIKE. Took awhile to live that down.

Anonymous said...

That meal looks deliciously mouthwatering!!

Anonymous said...

That meal looks delicious! Way better than anything I had in Chinatown in LA.