Painfully Lost in Translation

A new friend of mine, Taro (name has been changed to protect the innocent) was visiting Portland, Oregon. Taro is a young Japanese artist and was having his first art show in the US.

The day of the opening, he was really nervous. He’d been drinking beer like it was water. The opening was hugely successful for him, but at the end of the day, he got hemorrhoids.

Now Taro’s English is pretty good. He knows a lot of English vocabulary words. But “hemorrhoids” wasn’t one of those words.

He was staying at the gallery owner’s house, and the next morning he needed help but didn’t want to wake his friend, so he walks over to New Seasons Market by himself. New Seasons is a lot like Whole Foods. A lot of what they have is fancy, and it’s definitely not a drugstore.

So he walks into New Seasons, looks around and finds the vitamin aisle. He flags down an employee. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to explain his situation. All he can think to say is, “help me, my asshole is broken.”

I don’t know what the rest of the conversation was like but the employee sold him some kind of sage and tea tree oil lotion.

Later that evening we had a small party for Taro. He arrived, still in pain, and told us this story.  We laughed. And laughed. And laughed. And then we explained to Taro what a drugstore is, where it is, and what PreparationH is.

He’s fine now.


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