Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gaydar and the Expatriate

Our dear friend Elena was born and raised in Bilbao in the north of Spain, but she lived and worked for a number of years in England, where she met Tynan. Her Spanish is precise and beautiful to hear. Her English is exceptional. She can speak proper English and also Tynan's version of English, which apparently only people from Chesterfield even consider English. Sometimes, however, we are reminded that English is not Elena's first language.

This morning, we three were talking about a really wonderful guy we had just met. Charming, intelligent, warm, kind. (Oh, yeah, he's cute, too.) I'll call him "Cid."

San Geraldo's initial impression was that Cid was gay (not that there's anything wrong with that). He said his gaydar (see note at bottom) was working. But, honestly, our gaydar hasn't worked very well since we moved to Spain.

Most Spanish men, gay and straight, are much more physically demonstrative than their American counterparts. Kissing in greeting is normal. Touching and hugging are perfectly acceptable and very common. It's refreshing but can be confusing for members of other cultures (like ours) so unaccustomed to it.

As we parted company with Elena this morning, we all commented on how much we liked "Cid." San Geraldo said, "My gaydar tells me he's gay." Elena agreed. But then we explained to her how difficult it is for us to rely on the old signals in this much more open culture. She understood.

Then she said, "It's especially difficult if he's in the wardrobe."

Pause...

'Like how he dresses?' we both thought. 'How odd.'

Pause...

Wait! It dawned on us both at the same time. Wardrobe... "Did you mean closet?" I asked.

Elena said, "What's the expression when it's a secret? Isn't it 'He's still in the wardrobe'?"

We explained that it was called 'being in the closet.'

Not that there's anything wrong with that...
"She did not shut it properly because she knew that it is very silly to shut oneself into a wardrobe, even if it is not a magic one."
— C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
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Note:
The Urban Dictionary defines "gaydar" as the ability/gift of being able to detect homosexuality in other people.

21 comments:

  1. Yes Mitchell, trusting our gaydar can be tricky some of the time. And I can see that it would be there in Spain where everybody kisses everybody! I am certain that 'Cid' will show his true colours as soon as he is comfortable.
    Your Seinfeld references ('not that there's anything wrong.....') are hilarious!

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    Replies
    1. Jim:
      Ah, Seinfeld, Brilliant comedy. (Jerry's mother watched once for 10 minutes and just didn't get it. So she went and did the ironing.) I think gaydar is on a different electrical current here. We need a power adaptor.

      Delete
  2. My gaydar needs pumping up most days ~~ my close friend for 10 years plus came out to me back in the 70's ~~~ so embarrassing it was ~~ I had no idea!! Now that I think about it ~~ was he really close.
    Love the 'wardrobe" slip, I just may use that some time!!
    Ron

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    1. Ron:
      Of course, if you live in Spain, there's no such thing as a closet. Wardrobe or closet, it's called an armario.

      I have to admit, I was trying to remember when I had mentioned a "slip" in the wardrobe... Oy......

      Delete
  3. Ohhhhhhhhhh I just love this language stuff :)) Wait 'till I share this one with my language nerd friends at school :)

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    1. Judy:
      It's so entertaining. Have you followed the conversation on facebook?

      Delete
  4. I just need to meet that Cid to give you MY professional opinion.
    I am quite accustomed to "other cultures"...
    I much prefer it actually!!
    ;)

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    Replies
    1. TICKLEBEAR:
      Ooooh, are you one o' them PRO-fessional gays???

      Delete
  5. In the Wardrobe! I love it. Not that anyone should be there, unless on the way to Narnia. I seem to be hearing more funny language stories lately. Yesterday I learned that the author Mary Stewart just died at the age of 97, and a librarian friend of mine told us about a boy who returned her book Nine Coaches Waiting almost immediately. When he was asked why, since he hadn't had it long enough to read it, he said he'd thought it was about football...

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    Replies
    1. Kristi:
      The librarian's story is hilarious. Did you ever see the episode of Modern Family about Gloria's accent? She had Jay's secretary order him a Christmas gift of a box of "baby cheeses."

      Delete
  6. Also loving the wardrobe! Although I caught the slip right away -- perhaps because I tutor English and am accustomed to these kinds of things -- I also had this image of Cid wearing some sort of gay uniform -- which he found in the gay wardrobe.

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    Replies
    1. Michael:
      What's great about the gay wardrobe now is, if you can't find anything to wear, you can simply raid the metrosexual wardrobe.

      Delete
  7. So, two nations ( American and British) but common language. Is it true? Yes but up to the point.

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    1. Gosia:
      Oscar Wilde wrote in "The Canterville Ghost": "We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language."

      Delete
  8. I remember my first trip to Spain and Italy I thought all the males were gay because they were so demonstrative. Interesting that so many European countries are more tolerant of same sex unions than they are here in the States.

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    1. Stephen:
      "The Guardian" (British newspaper) just provided an interactive article on gay rights around the world. I was proud to see how Spain ranked.

      Delete
  9. In the wardrobe...I like that. Well, the expression anyway.

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    1. Jacqueline....
      We were out with Tynan and Elena last night. The expression was used a number of times. I guess it doesn't help that Spain has one word for both closet and wardrobe — "armario." We Americans have to add the French "armoire," as well. No wonder people get confused.

      Delete
  10. There is a list somewhere of Book titles that have been translated into other languages and then back into English - the task: try to figure out what was the original. Like 'in the wardrobe'. Jolly good fun! Ever read The great sci-fi book "Sandpile" by Herbert?

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    Replies
    1. Spo:
      What is "Sandpile"?

      We get so confused here with film and TV show titles. Some are in the original English. Some are translated, literally, to Spanish. Others are completely changed. The TV show "Brothers & Sisters" is "Cinco Hermanos" (Five Siblings).

      Delete
    2. It is "Dune" in the original

      Delete

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