A humorous look at travel, family, relationships… And all kinds of other shit.

An American Idiot in Copenhagen

My wife and I have traveled all over the world together. Dozens of countries on five continents. And wherever we go, whatever we do, I always manage to make a dick out of myself at least once. A day.

I have no shortage of ways I can be an asshole. And we’ll be talking about all of them out here on The Bald Truth. But here’s probably my biggest problem: I have this linguistic tic that I can’t seem to shake.

I just don’t talk right when I’m in a different country.

I mean, I do okay when I’m trying to speak the native language, which I do whenever possible. But when I try to speak English in a different country, I end up sounding like Truman Capote with a serious speech impediment.

The only way I can describe it is that I think I am trying to talk to the native people in the accent they would talk in, if they were trying to speak English.

And for some reason, whenever I involuntarily slip into this fucked-up way of talking, my voice gets way more effeminate. So when I’m in Hong Kong, I sound like a flamboyantly gay Nathan Lane pretending to be Charlie Chan. When I’m in France, I sound like Richard Simmons imitating Inspector Clouseau.

But the horrible part is, I can’t help myself . . . it’s like some kind of Foreign Language Tourette’s Syndrome (FLTS).

And it really never ends well. Take, for example, the time Cindy and I were walking home after a late, long, liquid dinner in Copenhagen.

Since we drank about nine gallons of wine, I figured it would be a good idea to have some antacid on hand in the morning, so we stopped in what looked like the Copenhagen version of a 7-11 to get some.

We couldn’t find any in the aisles, so I approached the dude at the counter. My FLTS kicked in without my being able to stop it, and when I asked the kid for Alka Seltzer, it sounded something like this:

“Dooo uuuu aaave elkaaa seltzah?”

The kid looked at me like I was wearing human-testicle earrings, and shook his head.

Thinking that he didn’t understand me, I tried again, speaking a little louder, because that’s what you do when you have FLTS. I also decided to add some gestures to the mix.

“UUUU KNOW, ELKAAA SELTZAH,” I said. And this time, I also rubbed my belly and frowned, as if I was in distress.

Again, the kid just shook his head.

Thinking I’d try one last-ditch effort, I said, in my fucked-up, speech-impeded voice:

“UUUU KNOW, PLOPE PLOPE, FEEEEZE FEEEEZE,” I said, and then I made the motions of dropping the tablets into a glass of water and drinking it while rubbing my belly.

And finally the clerk responded, in almost perfect English:

“I know what Alka Seltzer is. We don’t have any.”

I almost lost control of my bowels. I looked to my wife for support, but Cindy was already running out the door, doubled over in laughter. My wingman. My Goose. My rock. She bailed on me before the guy was even done talking. I hope we never have to storm a beach together. I bet the first time I need an adult diaper, she’s going to mysteriously disappear.

So there I was, standing in the store, by myself. Looking at the clerk. We both knew what had just happened. It was awkward. I thought about buying something else, and talking in regular English, to try and save face.

You know, like if I said, “Yeah, pal, how’s about a couple of those beef sticks right there then, and maybe a lighter and a pack of that gum,” then he might forget what an asshole I was.

Instead, I decided to just cut my losses.

“Oh, ok,” I said to the kid, in regular English, my voice a little deeper than normal (I don’t know where that came from, either). “Yeah, thanks. Have a good night.”

He just shook his head.

And I never did get any Alka Selzter.

16 Responses to “An American Idiot in Copenhagen”

  1. Kristen

    Hahahahahahahaha!! OMG – this is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!

    I have missed that Steve Crescenzo humour. HE’S BAAAAACK!!!

    And the world laughed!!!

  2. Elaine Schick

    I lost it at the Lane/Chan Simmons/Clouseau line. What a perfect description.

  3. Kari

    You are not alone.

    I have another friend who suffers from FLTS when ordering Chinese take-out.

  4. Steve Crescenzo

    That is EXACTLY why Cindy orders the Chinese takeout food. I was in a Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong, and I asked the waitress for “a soya sauce,” and I think I even scrunched up my eyes a little. I’m an idiot.

  5. Kelley Young

    I am laughing out loud all by myself! You are hysterical and I will be reading your blog often. Also, I think you have seriously named a new
    disorder. I now believe that FLTS is real!

  6. Mike Klein

    Why would anyone need Alka Seltzer in a nation of 60% tax, $10 hot dogs and a language that sounds like involuntary vomit reflex? The surveys say it’s the world’s happiest place!

  7. Steve Crescenzo

    LOL, Mike! You’re probably right . . .nobody has upset bellies over there. Even though they eat all that god awful raw herring or whatever it is.

  8. Patti Mullen

    Bwahahaha. Steve, as I gave said before, you pretty much daily make me laugh. Looking forward to the blog.

  9. Gerry

    FLTS wills someday rank right up there with Zackly disease. Thanks for the laughs.

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