June 14, 2003

bi-lingual uppity mixxity

My new roommate’s name is Motoshi. He’s from Japan, and has taken the next couple months off from his job at Toyota to travel the world and kiteboard. He came to Hood River through Maui, and once he’s served his tour-of-duty here he’s off to New Zealand. He bought a bicycle, and every day he slings up all his kiting gear and heads down to Kite Beach to rip it up.

Motoshi doesn’t speak very much English, but he speaks infinitely more English than I do Japanese so that’s just fine. We get by very well through mimicry, imitation, signs and basic words. Some things in the house we have remembered to explain to Motoshi, such as the dishwasher, the grill, cheese and Zip Loc bags. Other things we have neglected.

On a top shelf in our pantry we keep various household cleaners and cooking sprays. The can of Pam and the can of Pledge are right next to each other. Aside from the names slapped on the side, the cans are nearly indistinguishable. What’s more, neither brand name is revealing in what the product’s purpose is, even for a veteran Englishatarian.

Today I made grilled cheese, and Motoshi watched as I grabbed a can from the top shelf and sprayed the skillet. “Oh, OK,” he said. I put the Pam back where I got it, but then hesitated as I considered moving it to a move intuitive place; a place that didn’t house poisonous cleansers in similar packaging.

“M’eh,” I decided.

I left the arrangement the way I found it, figuring it would be really funny one day. And tragic. But funny.