Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Our Moscow Bureau

This past year my Russian language instructor has taught me lots of useless Russian words that I am quite confident that I will never use again in this lifetime. It started with simple words like “еж” which means hedgehog. I’m not saying that hedgehogs aren’t important, cute, delicious, or whatever. I just never have figured out why she was so hell-bent on teaching me how to say hedgehog and not how to count to 10 or ask where the toilet is. Regardless, I’ve been here for going on two years and I still hold my fingers up like a three year old when I need to use a number and I still do the “pee-pee” dance and shrug my shoulders every time I have to ask someone where the toilet is (ok, maybe the latter is an exaggeration).

So for the past couple of months I’ve really hunkered down and started to study Russian with vigor. In doing so I have learned several phrases that Russians use that make no sense but I love to use them as it always results in a smile from the person I’m talking too. Most of the time I don’t think it’s the phrase so much as my attitude and mispronunciation that gets them to grinning. One phrase that is common to tell someone when you think they are telling you a fib is вешать лапшу на уши which means hang the noodles from your ears. I can’t even begin to figure out why they say this as it makes no sense whatsoever. But if someone is telling you a lie and you mutter these words they are sure to start laughing with you. It reminds me of us telling someone they are pulling our leg. I’m sure the Russians would laugh if they ever heard us asking each other if we were pulling each other’s legs.

This past weekend I learned that when someone doesn’t have an ear for music, Russian’s say медведь наступил на ухо which means a bear stepped on your ear. Me being the smooth operator that I am I decided on Saturday night that I would try this phrase out on a girl in hopes that it would make her smile, laugh, and generally melt with my charming advance. After saying this phrase she looked at me in disgust and horror before trying to slap me. All of our friends burst out laughing. I had, as often is the case, said the wrong words and asked her if a bear had stepped on her FACE? It’s no wonder she was upset.

It’s also no wonder why I’m still single…

~The Moscow Correspondent

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