01 March 2006

coffee nips

As a teenager I had a hankering for candy. Not any candy, mind you. Coffee candy Nips to be exact. Golden, little, sticky globs of goodness that stuck in your teeth and gave you a sugar rush. I ate so many of these growing up. I believe even my body composition in High School was 92% Coffee Nips, 3% McDonald's with the remaining percentage in sugar, spice and everything nice with a dash of chocolate and coffee. I still don't know how I modeled swimsuits during this time in my life. Dern that metabolism. I sure miss it.

Nips are the most perfect, mouth-watering, substance on earth. So euphoric in fact, that there was never a time that I wouldn't walk the 15 minutes down to the store with my sister, Globegirl to replentish my stockpile. Stockpiles are good because you never know when you will have a craving for something yummy. (right Heth?)

One day, Globegirl and I walked on down to the store, wide-eyed with drooling anticipation over our upcoming sucrose-induced coma. Now the store wasn't our usual 7-11 but when you are looking for candy, any store will do. This was a little corner store, with the usual fare of convenience goodies, coffee, gum, 4 year old green bean cans at $4 a can. You get it. It was clean, well stocked and run by a very kind, older Japanese couple. They spoke broken English but enough to communicate with their customers. She usually ran the cash register while he was perpetually in the back room.

"Do you have any coffee Nips?", Globegirl asked the woman behind the counter as she greeted us with a smile.

The woman's smile quickly disappeared and look back at us blankly. She just stood there and said nothing. No-thing.

"Um Excuse me? " she repeated, "Do you have any coffee Nips?" The woman at this point is motionless and has this look on her face like GO AWAY! but still she says nothing.

Now Globegirl and I look at each other and I take over, hoping she can understand our need for candy. I'm still a teenager at this time and of course, believed that by her lack of response, it means to speak LOUDER and SLOWER in hopes that she understand.

in·san·i·ty - noun
Definition: To do the same action over and over again hoping for a different outcome at each attempt.******

"MA'AM? DO YOU HAVE ANY COFFEE NIPS??" I try asking, enunciating every syllable in a louder voice than my sister had used.

I have learned since that when you don't understand another language it does not help to speak louder and slower. Not understanding a language does not classify you as an ignoramus or shall we say 'IQ Challenged'. By this time her husband has come from the back room and the couple are look at each other speaking in Japanese and in low tones at that. The man looks up at us quickly and glares.

"Geez, What is their problem?" I think to myself.

"No," He replies quickly as he motioned me away with the flip of his hand.

"Okay. Thanks," was all I could say, taken back by his odd reply. Globegirl and I paid for our sodas in ignorant bliss and made our way out quickly. We had no clue what had made them act so weird. Not until years later.

********"Nips" - Proper Noun
Definition:Delectible candy often desired by teens that have no clue they have been misunderstood and were erroneously believed to have insulted a Japanese couple by calling them an ethnically derogitory term widely used during WWII. Socially unacceptable in this day and age (and rightly so).*********

If I had been, say 40 years older, I might have understood the cultural faux paus we had committed. The sweet, little Japanese couple didn't quite catch what we were saying because what they thought they heard was, "Do you have any coffee, Nip?"

A comma can make all the difference.

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"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words."

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe