Turns out, that a stupid idea, in any other language, is still stupid.
I’m on a bus in northern Russia.
Our small group consisted of my future mother-in-law, a friend named George, and me. We were headed somewhere in town.
My Russian skills then, like now, were nonexistent, but I want to tell my mother-in-law something.
I needed to tell her the one thing that all women worldwide appreciate hearing from a man.
I want to tell her to calm down because well, she did need to.
Or so I thought.
I turn to George.
“George, what’s the Russian word for “relax?”
Because what could go wrong?
Am I right?
We were both single, so neither had any real substantive thought process going for us.
George says, ‘tell her, “расслабиться’ (rasslabit’sya).
I repeat it softly until I feel comfortable with a louder pronunciation.
After a few minutes, I garner the courage and say, “Muza, rasslabit’sya.”
And I’m telling you folks, this grown Russian woman for reasons I’ll never know, did not appreciate my noble efforts nor the trouble I undertook in learning a most difficult Russian word that was really for her own good.
I mean, I intervened for her sake, not mine here!
She should have thanked me, right?
Who wouldn’t have appreciated such a kind gesture?
Not. One. Person.
Hey, do y’all remember that cool TV show, “Lie to Me?”
It was based on the study of quick micro-expressions and being able to discern if someone was lying or otherwise hiding something.
Well, that Russian lady quickly flashed a micro expression on poor George, who for some strange reason also didn’t understand his transgression.
But I saw.
That perhaps this little word could have been learned on a different day and in a different context.
But mainly, I understood that stupid ideas in English usually have no problem gathering strength and galloping right over the language fence and kicking you right in the face.