I don’t normally chat about my movie preferences without being asked, but recently a neighbor walked over with our Netflix envelope in hand. It had mistaken arrived in his mailbox. I thanked him cheerfully, saying we still get DVDs mailed because my husband and I watch a lot of foreign films that are otherwise unavailable.
That innocuous sentence instantly wrought some sort of reaction. He turned his head ever so slightly to the right, his eyes looking up as if confused. I’m pretty sure his nostrils flared as he took in a deep breath. Then the charming older gentleman said carefully, “I didn’t know those were available on Netflix.”
Something was indefinably weird about our conversation but I had no idea what it might be. I assured him, in a far more cheery voice than usual, that we’re particularly fond of films from France, Denmark, and Sweden.
There was a long pause. I’d uttered two sentences about our fondness for foreign films and he was reacting as if I’d revealed a highly personal secret. He looked at the plain red envelope and said nothing. His discomfort must have been downright contagious because I tossed in one more sentence, hoping to find some closure to the topic so I could say goodbye and retreat. I said, “Some people really hate subtitles but it’s totally worth it.”
Understanding broke out on his face like a rash. A red rash. He said, “Oh, foreign films.”
Then my face turned red. I speak with what we in upper Ohio consider to be no accent at all and it didn’t occur to me that he’d misunderstood. But he had. He thought I’d said my husband and I watch a lot of porn films.
The moral of the story? Enunciate!
(If you’re feeling kind enough to ease my embarrassment, please share a tale about a misunderstanding you’ve reacted to or caused…)