This past weekend, I did what a lot of us are doing nowadays—frittered some time away on Facebook. I’m doing one of those “post the cover of an album you love” every day for a week or whatever, and Sunday’s pick was Bruce Cockburn’s Stealing Fire, which featured the single “Lovers In A Dangerous Time.” Seems appropriate for these times, too, doesn’t it?
The reason I was still thinking about it today, though, wasn’t so much my long attachment to the music. It was more my feelings about my fabulous wife Sunny (pictured above with Goofy in the days before social distancing).
Sunny and I have been married since 2014, and we have a lot of laughs together, in addition to having a blessedly low-stress, loving relationship. She’s from Thailand originally, so she’s bilingual, English being her second language.
Tonal Vs. Atonal
Thai is what they call a tonal language, which to me means there are certain words that the typical Westerner finds borderline unpronounceable. By contrast, English is kind of atonal, and Sunny speaks it with a charmingly Thai accent that, at times, sounds like she learned a word from a British speaker.
Although Sunny’s language skills are excellent, there are certain words in English that contain sound combinations that don’t exist in Thai. Thus a simple word like van or cure may provide much bigger challenges than seemingly more complex words like absolutely (one of Sunny’s favorites, by the way).
Getting Your Laughs Where You Find Them
My experience with Thai people is that many of them are almost unbelievably good-natured, and that’s certainly the case with my wife. So if she struggles with a word, and I laugh, she doesn’t get angry—she laughs at herself.
Of course, I’m not laughing at her, exactly. It’s more like I’m laughing at something that’s both funny and cute. Here’s yesterday’s example, as she attempted to discuss the hope for a “cure” for COVID-19.
Me: [Dying] No, no. Queer is like [terribly stereotypical imitation of a flamboyant gay guy, which I can only get away with because both of us are friends to the LGBTQ community.] Cure.
Me: [Dying more] No. No. You can say cute, right? It’s like cuter without the T.
Me: Yeah. Now, again: cure.
There was no doubt another one in there somewhere, but I was laughing so hard, I could have had an aneurysm.
Ultimately, we settled on treatment as the best synonym, since a drug or medication might not provide an actual remedy.
I know these are dark days—a dangerous time, indeed—but I’m incredibly grateful to have a wife with both a fantastic sense of humor and a ton of patience. I hope all of you out there have great people in your lives, too, whether romantic partners, family, friends, or all of the above. Stay safe, everyone!