Holiday wonders

Dec. 6, 2007

Lost in translation

Sometimes the most innocent words or phrases will have unexpected meanings in other cultures.

Once when I was visiting Britain, I slapped a guy who asked me to pick up his shuttlecock. You can imagine my embarrassment when I found out later that he was referring to something from his badminton game.

Lost in translation

Sometimes the most innocent words or phrases will have unexpected meanings in other cultures.

Once when I was visiting Britain, I slapped a guy who asked me to pick up his shuttlecock. You can imagine my embarrassment when I found out later that he was referring to something from his badminton game.

Motorists in China’s capital city would also like to avoid getting hit when people see what’s printed on their license plate. A new series of plates was recently released in Beijing featuring the letter combination “WC,” the same term used on signs around the city designating public restrooms, or “water closets,” as they were once known.

Drivers said the abbreviation gives them “unpleasant images” and would like the plates replaced, but the local government has no plans to do so.

This isn’t the first time that English letters have caused unexpected objections. In the city of Xinyang, motorists successfully petitioned to have “SB” removed from plates because the initials are commonly used to refer to one of Mandarin’s most vulgar profanities.

And just this past August in the city of Haikou, the number 4 was removed from plates because it sounds similar to “death” when pronounced in Mandarin.

Turning water into fines

If you plan to attend a Christmas Mass in Ireland, you might want to ask if your priest needs a designated driver.

Ireland’s Road Safety Authority wants to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers down to just 0.05%. Priests are worried that the lower limit will affect their ability to fulfill their duties during Mass, which involve consuming consecrated altar wine.

Because the ranks of the Irish priesthood are dwindling, some priests have to serve several Masses a day at various congregations that have no resident clergy.

The Vatican doesn’t allow nonalcoholic wines to be used, so two or three consecutive Masses can add up, especially when you consider that priests are responsible for making sure all consecrated wine is consumed.

One idea being considered is to share any unused wine with the congregation. After all, what respectable Irish Catholic is going to turn down a free drink?

Life lesson No. 82

Many people get confused about what to do at the scene of a traffic accident. Calling 9?1?1, writing down the accident facts and getting names and addresses of witnesses are all good ideas. Breaking and entering, vandalism and public indecency—not so much.

An unidentified Memphis man recently had to learn this lesson the hard way after crashing his car into a light pole at 3:30 a.m., possibly on his way home from an Irish Mass. After staggering out of the wreckage, he decided to bang on the front door of the nearest house.

The owner of the home, Leroy Brown, told the man to go away. The man apparently misheard this as “come in through the window,” so he began to do just that.

After smashing a front window, the man was able to climb halfway into the house before Brown began firing a gun at him. The man retreated, unharmed by the gunfire but cutting his leg on the broken glass from the window.

Before leaving the premises, the man decided to remove his shoes and pants and abandon them on Brown’s doorstep. Dressed only in his shirt, underpants and some blood, he walked over to a nearby McDonald’s and, instead of asking for help, tossed a rock through the front window. Police arrived shortly after, easily identifying the pantless, bleeding man.

So let that be a lesson to us all. If you’re involved in a late-night fender bender and you try to break into someone’s house and they shoot at you, don’t take your pants off. It’s just going to make you look like the crazy one.

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