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COLUMN: When cultures collide, point and grunt

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By Linda Ireland

My husband Bud and I were working in the back yard last week, when a minivan pulled into the driveway.
A dark-skinned man got out and started talking – in broken English – to Bud. The only word I could understand was “Gord.”
More men got out of the van and walked around the house until finally, five of them were chattering at us.
Foreign languages and music are ... well ... foreign to me. I finally learned to count to 10 in Spanish in third grade, along with the words, gracias, amigo and no. I picked up “diablo” through old Western movies and “gatto” because it seemed to fit with “diablo.”
I learned a few more words by watching “Dora the Explorer” with my granddaughters.
But I digress.
Bud and I thought the man was trying to say “Gordon,” which is Bud’s given name. But ... he kept pointing at the field, where the longhorns were grazing.
Bud finally asked him to spell “gord.” He spelled G-O-A-T perfectly.
As best as we could determine, those men wanted to buy a goat.
Bud tried to explain that those four-legged creatures in the back of the field were bovine. The calves, he reasoned, were about the size of goats, which may have led to the confusion.
About the time we thought he had succeeded in explaining this, the man would say “Gord” again.
Then they started talking about chickens. They wanted to buy five. But they would settle for two. Or at least I think that is what they said. I said I could catch a couple for them.
Then they wanted eggs. Eight dozen.
Yeah, I thought I had eight dozen. Nine? The men asked.
Sure, I had nine dozen.
Should I try speaking Spanish to them, I wondered. Their attempts at English were pretty sad.
Bud Ireland then said possibly the silliest thing he has ever said to me. He told me to catch the chickens while he went in the house to get the eggs.
“You are not leaving me out here chasing chickens with five men who can’t speak English,” I told him.
I got the eggs – but Bud had thoughtfully waited for me before he started catching chickens.
The men kept pointing at the senior rooster (senor rooster?) but I told them he was too old. His name is Old Daddy and he likes to be rocked like a baby. I didn’t think the men would understand that.
I agreed to sell the young rooster. He is usually very placid, but he decided he did not want to go with the men. Bud and I ended up chasing him in circles. We kicked up a ton of dust.
The five men sat on the ground and watched. Every now and then they would say something in their language and giggle.
“This better not show up on YouTube,” I told Bud.
We actually stopped running for a few minutes to debate whether the men were really going to buy the rooster. Lucky for all of us – they did.
They later asked for “veg-ables,” which we did not have.
Finally, we exchanged the chickens and eggs for cash and thought we would bid them goodbye. We were pleased at our communication skills.
And then, the first man said, “Gord?”
We shook our heads and grunted, “uh-uh.”
And that, he understood.
After they left, I was trying to figure out what Hispanic country they were from. Bud said they were Muslim and I believe he is right. It also explained why I couldn’t understand any of their Spanish words.
Later, we stood in the yard, scratching our heads, wondering why those five men had stopped at our house, wanting to buy eggs, chickens, vegetables ... and gords.
There I was, wearing a long skirt. There was Bud, wearing a straw hat.
Did they think we were Amish? Or Mennonites?
Or, just really gullible?