By E.J. Gordon
I always say that English is my husband’s second language. Yes, he was born here. And yes, his parents are American. But English, as a language, isn’t his forte. He’s got a lot of strengths. He’s great at math. He’s a very smart businessman. He knows what to do with money. But English … eh, not so much.
He comes by it honestly. His parents — “The Gordons” — unintentionally invented the language I refer to as “Gordonese”. For my husband, Jay (I think he deserves a name after a year of just referring to him as “my husband”), Gordonese is his true mother tongue. The language Gordonese has four significant markers:
1. The Absolute Misuse of Words
A) While we were watching our fatigued kid at hockey practice, Jay said, “Look at him skate. He’s all pecker-ed out.”
B) And then there was the time we were discussing reconstructive surgery, and he said, “I mean, if a woman has cancer and has a vasectomy… ”
I immediately stopped him and said, “You mean mastectomy.” He looked at me confused and said, “No, vasectomy.”
I told him, “Honey, vas deferens = vasectomy, mastectomy= chest.”
He retaliated, “Babe, vasectomy = vagina, mastectomy= man.”
C) One day we were discussing how some people have very specific criteria when deciding on which camp to send their kids. Referring to my friend, he said, “Of course, Jenny is frigid about camp.”
I’m pretty sure he meant “rigid”.
2. The Lack of Specific Words/Overuse of General Words
A) Him: “Babe! Make sure you grab the thingy!”
Me: “Which thingy?”
Him: “The watchamacallit!”
B) Him: “What does what’s-his-face do?”
Him: “The guy with the thing, you know, the one.”
3. The Convenient Invention of Words
A) I kept telling Jay that his sister, Becky, has a doppelganger who lives in our town. This woman looks so much like Becky that I know I’ve waved to her several times only to have her look up at me confused because she had no idea who I am. One day my husband called me and said, “I saw Becky’s bobble-gobble today!!” Yes, he said, “bobble-gobble”.
B) We have this recurring topic in our house about how our best friends, who are married to each other, are always all over each other. When I told him how romantic I thought it was, he said, “I’m not like that. If you need that, go find someone who dowds you.” In my Gordonese-English dictionary, I’d define “dowds” as “dotes on”, I think …
And then there is perhaps my (and my sister’s) favorite language marker:
4. The Flagrant Mixing of Metaphors And Oddly Combining Expressions and Names
A) “Son, you’re running a very thin line.”
B) “Honey, don’t let her get under your goat.”
C) “I’m turning over a new lease.”
D) “Maybe we should buy some K1 jelly.”
E) “I was 2 sheets to the wind.”
F) “She needs a wax so bad, her man must need a hedgehog to find her hole.”
When we were first married, the language barrier caused some unnecessary problems. Like the time when my good friend was in town with her husband, and the four of us went out to dinner. My friend was telling me that she was surprised to hear that Jay had dated this one lady because she was so different from me. She was such a “Plain Jane”.
Jay defended himself and said, “E.J.’s a ‘Plain Jane’.
My girlfriend was indignant, “What are you talking about? Your wife is certainly NOT a Plain Jane — she’s BEAUTIFUL!”
I looked with hurt at Jay and asked, “What do you mean, I’m a Plain Jane?”
He said, “You don’t wear a lot of makeup or put all that shit in your hair.”
Clearly, he meant “natural” but he speaks Gordonese. I wasn’t fluent at the time, so I almost got sucked into being completely insulted.
Of course Jay put himself in a predicament when he decided to marry an English major/writer/linguist, who happens to belong to a family that spends entire dinners discussing the difference between the meanings of “insinuate” and “infer”. But as a linguist, I saw a challenge in trying to decode this new language. And I knew I had made huge progress in my foreign language acquisition when, many years into our marriage, Jay and I were watching a movie with a romantic ending, and I, as usual, teared up at the end. Jay sighed and said, “This makes me want to love you more.”
Early on, I would have been offended by the unintended implication. But the longer we’re married, the more Gordonese I speak, and I knew what he meant.
I think that’s one of the (few) perks of marital longevity: knowing exactly what your spouse means, and knowing he loves the shit out of you, even though what he says or does seems like he doesn’t. In fact, his mixed metaphors and made-up words and disregard for proper nouns makes me want to love him more.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: E.J. Gordon is a freelance writer, a regular contributor to GIRLillaWarfare, and “Sexpert”. Have any questions or topics that you would like her to address? Remember: No subject is taboo, and Anonymity is accepted. Contact E.J. at: EJGordon529@gmail.com.