M & N and Maharaja
I can't tell anyone "I love you", not because I don't want to but because I know I will confuse my companion, or worse, get responded like "OK, which part?" Rub not Love. That's the second reason I never trot out that cliche. The primary reason? I have never met a person I want to say that to. Not lately, I mean.
The point is, English is one hard language for non-English speakers like, for instance, Japanese. Or myself. Why? Because the Japanese language doesn't have the sounds of R and L. Or, at lease no distinction in sounding between those two.
So, I'll probably be unable to tell which action my intimate partner, if I have one, wants to take when the sweet phrase is given: come close and kiss me or scrub me. Love you or Rub you. Sounds same to me, but a century away in meaning.
Similarly confusing are M and N. Quite confusing, indeed. So much so that, I end up confusing people, again, with those two, just like when I talked on the phone with a hotel clerk in Chicago.
Me: "Hi, I have just landed at O'Hare and wonder if a room is available. I havealready booked one on line. I know the check-in time is 2 p.m., but ........"
Hotel Clerk: "Hold on a moment, please. I will check if a room is available for you."
Me: "Thank you so much!"
H.C: "No problem, Sir. May I have your name?"
Me: "Sure. It's Ken Mishima."
H.C: "Could you repeat your name, Sir?"
Me: "KENICHI MISHIMA."
H.C: "........ Can you repeat your last name, please?"
A minute passes, and we are still fighting over my last name.
H.C: "I am sorry for the confusion. Can you spell it out for me, Sir?"
Me: "Please, don't be. I always confuse people with my name. It's M-I-S-H-I-M-A."
H.C: "Thank you, Mr. Nishina."
Me: "No, Mishima."
Another minute passes.
Me: "M as Moon."
H.C: "Can you be more specific, Sir?"
Well, then please tell me how I can say the word Moon more specifically than just saying Moon? Was it too general for you? Or, you want me to tell you about compositions of the moon or its geography?
Me: "Let me go over again. M as More."
Well, you don't necessarily have to ad an O, but yeah, sure, whatever. All we want here is the first letter M anyway.
See my point? The point is I need to take hours to have someone remind me that even after 10 years in the Unites States I still can't pronounce a M or an N, which means I'll never have mastered those two letters by 2023, which means indefinitely.
Now that I know my fate, I have decided to enjoy it rather than lamenting. And I didn't have to wait an opportunity for long before I relished it. That was when I talked on the phone with a AT&T Yahoo! operator.
Before being connected to the operator, however, I had to endure a 20-minute-long, horrific conversation with a "machine" operator. And it was just so miserable and daunting that I don't want to go over here again.
So, after the battle with the stupid machine, my pleasure started.
Operator: "This is (his Indian name). How may I help you?"
Me: "Hi. I have just lost my Internet access. Can you fix it for me?"
Operator: "Certainly, Sir."
Me: "How would you like me to pay? Cash or credit card?" (Giggle)
Operator: "Please, describe your modem for me, Sir."
Phone operators never take a joke. Got it.
Me: "Yes. It is called SpeedStream 4100 and........."
The exchanges were so technical and dull for another 20 minutes that I don't want to go over here again.
But, all of a sudden, comes my entertainment.
Operator: "All right, Sir. Now, please read the account name on your monthly bill for me."
Me: "Yes, it's Kenichi Mishima."
Operator: "Can you, please, spell out your name for me, Sir? I just need your last name for this."
Here comes fun!
Me: "Sure. M-I-S-H-I-M-A."
Operator: "Thank you, Mr. Mishina.
He is much better than the hotel guy in Chicago. This maharaja guy got the first M somehow. However, Nishima would have sounded better for my taste.
Me: "No, it's Mishima."
Operator: "I am sorry, but I am not sure if I heard you correctly. Let's go over letter by letter. For example, A as Apple, B as Boy, and so on, so on. From the first letter of your last name, please."
Maharaja is very professional and composed.
Me: "M as My."
Yes! I knew you would say that!
Me: "No, My. Like my name is blah-blah-blah."
Operator: "I see. So, the first letter is M."
Bingo! Way to go, Maharaja! I am impressed!
Me: "And the second is ........"
And we have reached the last M. Let's see if you can handle this one.
Me: "And N as Mice."
Operator: "Nice, so it's N. Is it correct?"
Got ya! This is getting more hilarious than I thought! How about this?
Me: "No. Then, N as Mouth."
Operator: "Oh, I see. An animal, MOUSE."
Wow, you are unbelievably maneuverable! Although we should stop right here because we got both Ms right, let's play some more! You are just so fun, Maha! Can I call you Maha?
Me: "Actually, no. Mouth that you use to communicate with people."
Operator: "So, it's Mouse. Like a computer mouse?"
Oh, I didn't see that coming! You are outsmarting me!
Me: "No, Mouth. Like... like mouth is on fire."
Jeez, what a silly expression I came up!
Operator: "........House?? Not M but H?"
Hey, don't change the rule, Maharaja! You want me to be Mishiha?
By the way, doesn't it sound Indian?
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