Lost in Translation

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THE COUNTRY WRITER By John Moore

Columnist John Moore says there’s one language translation dictionary that’s needed, but yet-to-be-written. The ways of the South are not the ways of the rest of the country. I’ve never been to New York City, but from what I hear, the folks there say exactly what they think. And it isn’t always sugarcoated. No one else in the entire world can sugarcoat a request, direct order, suggestion, or verbal body slam, better than a Southern wife. You get a lot of presents at your wedding reception when you get hitched. We received nice items for the kitchen and other household necessities, but there was one thing I wish I’d received that I didn’t. A Southern Wife Translation Dictionary. Oh, and a warning from my dad that I’d be needing one would also have been appreciated. A book like that would have been very helpful in keeping Southern husbands out of trouble.

For example, when a Southern wife says, “You’re not going to wear that, are you?”

What she means is: “Don’t even think about leaving the house looking like that. Go change. Better yet, ask me what you should wear.”

So, when the husband says, “Yeah, what’s wrong with this?” he just dug his hole deeper. When a husband asks a Southern wife what she wants for her birthday or Christmas, and she says, “Oh, I don’t need a gift. Don’t worry about getting me anything.” it’s a trap. Don’t fall for that.

What she actually means is, “Work harder, son. Think about what I like and go get me that. You shouldn’t even have to ask me.”

And if a Southern wife asks her husband to go shopping with her, she’s not trying to punish him (well, maybe sometimes she is); she’s taking him with her so he’ll notice her hints when she compliments things she likes. There are right and wrong ways to handle this mandated outing.

Incorrect: (Cell rings)

Husband: “Hello.”

Wife: “Where are you? You disappeared from our shopping trip.”

Husband: “Remember that jewelry store with those diamond earrings you wanted that first year we were together, but I couldn’t afford them?”

Wife: “Why, yes. Yes, I do.”

Husband: “I’m in the bar next door to that place.”

Correct: (Cell rings) Husband: “Hello.” Wife: “Where are you? You disappeared from our shopping trip.”

Husband: “Remember that jewelry store with those diamond earrings you wanted that first year we were together, but I couldn’t afford them?”

Wife: “Why, yes. Yes, I do.”

Husband: “I never forgot. Happy Anniversary, Honey!”

Another statement where a translation dictionary would be helpful is when a husband is sitting in his La-Z-Boy on a Saturday drinking beer and watching an Ancient Aliens marathon and a Southern wife says: “So, what are you going to do today?”

Now, this baffles the husband. He even wonders if his wife needs an MRI to check for some sort of cognitive issue, because, to him, it’s pretty obvious that his plans for the day have already started.

What his wife is actually saying is, “If you think you’re going to sit in that chair all day drinking beer and watching a TV show that I think is stupid, you’re dead wrong.”

Now, if you’re a husband who doesn’t watch Ancient Aliens, just substitute The Three Stooges, and you’ll understand. For some reason, wives don’t like either one. But marriage is a partnership, so I’ve tried to learn what my Oklahoma bride is actually saying when I’m hearing something completely different. I even wrote this to try and help other husbands and their Southern brides. Maybe this’ll even be the beginning of that Southern Wife Translation Dictionary that needs to be written.

To make sure I got this right, I asked my wife to read it before I sent it to you. After she looked at this column, she said, “Well, bless your heart.”

Whew. Finally. I understand her.

©2020 John Moore To send John a message; buy his books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, or listen to his Weekly 5-Minute Podcast; visit his website at TheCountry-Writer.com.