By Molly Hartigan
Upon hearing the word "hostel," terrifying images (reminiscent of the 2005 film Hostel) of being trapped abroad and having limbs hacked off enter into the psyche. However, that film could not have been further from the reality. The February 4th massmouth story slam entitled “Lost in Translation” was held at Hostelling International, a quaint hostel located near Chinatown in Boston, and posed no threat to the attendees' health or safety.
Participants were asked to share a five-minute tale of a time in which they had been subject to a language barrier, whether it be on the giving or receiving end. Norah Dooley was the host of the event as well as the sacrificial storyteller. Norah shared her tale of traveling abroad in the city of love and recalled how she was sorely misunderstood while attempting to purchase cigarettes. Instead of asking for a pack of cigarettes, Norah emphatically repeated to the clerk at the cigarette shop that she wanted his hand in marriage.
Stephanie told of her experience going out to dinner in Italy for her friend Mario’s birthday. Once the three hour long meal concluded, Mario, the birthday boy, footed the entire bill. It was then that Stephanie learned that in Italy it was customary for the individual being celebrated to pay for his/her friends.
The last group of tellers, Paula Junn, Scott Schultz, and Matt Long (1st place winner) exemplified that one does not have to be far from home to experience being lost in translation. Paula told a tale of every kid's dream; receiving money every day from their parents for no reason! Every day Paula’s mother would give her and her brother money and mumble an explanation of what it was for. Paula had assumed that her mother was explaining the money away in a Korean term until one day, when she asked her mother what the term meant, her mother explained it was "e-mer-gen-cy" money; a simple misinterpretation and not some mystic Korean myth.
|Congrats to the winners! L to R: Matt, Scott, Helen, Stephanie|
While it was interesting hearing all the tales of misinterpretation abroad, the tales of being misunderstood at home really resonated with me. This story slam just goes to show that it is important to watch what you say because you never know when you’ll ask for a hug and receive a husband.
Want to find a storytelling event near you? Visit www.massmouth.com/events
Photos courtesy of Paula Junn.
[From the look on Molly's face, and the placement of her "desk," you can probably tell that she's currently an intern here at massmouth. Bio coming soon.]