Translation is the art of failure. (Umberto Eco)
- He said: ‘I don’t like make-up on a woman. I want to be able to kiss her lips without the taste of lipstick getting in the way… yuck!’
I heard: ‘I don’t want you to wear lipstick. I love you so much that I cannot stop myself kissing you at any time of day or night.’
Translation error: I stopped wearing lipstick. And became invisible.
Conclusion: Never trust a man who tells you what you should look like.
2. ‘You are not like other women. You may not be as beautiful or as blonde as the women I am usually attracted to, but you are very special. You really know how to look after a man.’
I heard: ‘You have a winning personality. You are a mature woman who knows what she wants, not a whining young girl.’
Missed translation: This woman seems low maintenance and reminds me of my mother but with lots of sex. Let me just slip in that comparison, so that she remains forever grateful that I even noticed her. Besides, driving a thin wedge into female solidarity makes me feel so good!
3. ‘I cannot wait to have children. That will make us really complete. I’m going to be a much better father than mine ever was.’
I heard: ‘I will leave you if you don’t give me children. But once I have them I’ll grow up, become mature and be a good Dad, because see how critical I am of my own father?’
Translation error: Delighted to become a father as long as someone else does all the work and thinking and planning, and they don’t have a negative impact on my nice lifestyle. Oh, and it’s nice to boast about good results at school, they’ve obviously inherited my intelligence.
4. ‘Whatever you want, darling.’ (when being asked to help make a decision about holidays, major household purchases – other than a car, taking a job, quitting a job, choosing childcare options, choosing schools etc.)
I heard: ‘I trust you completely to make a wise decision.’
Translation error: This does not restrict my rights to disparage, mock, quibble about, complain about or criticise those decisions. Post-factum, of course.
5. ‘I can’t help this. It’s the testosterone. Science has proven that men and women are different.’
‘I always warned you that I wasn’t a romantic. I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day/ weekly dates/ shared hobbies/ couples therapy.’
‘Is it really necessary to do the laundry/ change the oil filter/ put up those tiles/ XXX now?’
Translation: I can’t be bothered. Can’t be bothered. Bother!