Sunny Days in DC

Jack of All Trades, Master of 3-ish.

I don’t know the international sign for “Do my panties smell like rye?”

on February 10, 2013

I HAD been writing a lovely post, which was then interrupted by my FB acquaintance who felt the need to post photos of her baby in pink tutus (UPDATE!: They bought her a leopard onesie, just in time for me to throw up on my laptop screen). Then, I spent a few days wondering what it was I was going to write, and sort of generally being flakey and thinking “This whole ‘WordPress’ thing; what’s THAT about?” And I got totally philosophical and started questioning my place in the world.

Then, I got writer’s block, which………. I thought you had to be a writer to have? I dunno.

But then, some friends came over tonight and we were talking about travel.

“Oh!” I said, “And I never leave the US without cream.”

“Whaaa…. what KIND of cream?” My friend asked hesitantly… because she’s my friend, and thus, knows exactly where this might go.

“Weeeeeeeeelllllllllllllll….” I started, “When my guy and I first started dating, we went on a trip to the Netherlands so that he could lecture. There was a small town where the university was, and we were staying there for a few days. And, you know, when you’re a young couple, things are all fresh and exciting, and, you know, STUFF is happening… and stuff happened a LOT for us, which was great, but then…..”

“Then WHAT?” she asked.

“Well, then I started, you know… ‘baking bread’….”


“You know… it got YEASTY all up in my Magical Lady Forrest.”


Now, you have to picture it, because (in retrospect) it’s pretty funny. I’m in this small town where almost nobody speaks English. I go to the local pharmacy, and behind the counter is a lovely young woman who probably thought that the most exciting thing that would happen with her day would be the new shipment of glow in the dark band-aids.

But then: me.

So now I’m like one of those chicks in the yeast infection commercials where they’re all sad and wearing sweats (which, I don’t understand, because being able to wear sweats makes me HAPPY, and these bitches are all mopey), except I’m in a country where the people speak Flemish, AAAAAAAAAAAND I have a feminine medical condition, because the universe hates me.

Back to the pharmacy, with the pharmacist who doesn’t speak English. From her perspective, I imagine the scene went as follows:

-Oh, here’s a nice young woman. She looks foreign. Huh. Don’t get many tourists here.

-Ahh, she’s approaching me. She must need something. I will try to do honor unto my people by being helpful and polite.

-Oh goodness. There appears to be some sort of language barrier! Ahh, the young woman is valiantly trying to overcome it via what I can only assume is some sort of interpretive dance/seizures. Her people are so brave.

-Ok, a lot of these gestures seem to be centered around her vag… she must need tampons!

-Oh. No. Not tampons. No, she seems a little disappointed…

-Why is she grunting and making scratching motions toward her pants? Oh my goodness! This woman must be mentally ILL! I will try to appease her by nodding my head vigorously, but darting my eyes toward the display of Swiss Army knives, in case she makes any sudden moves.

-I think she might be trying to tell me that her pants are full of angry, rabid ants.

… that part is actually not too far from the truth, when you think about it.

Anyway, it went on that way for some time, as I tried to mime “yeast infection.” I’m not even sure I could win a round of Pictionary if I pulled the “Yeast Infection” card. It seems so easy, but for some reason that just isn’t a common phrase in most travel books. Rarely do you see, “Good morning. I may have a yeast infection. Would you be so kind as to point me in the direction of your local witch doctor?’ in your “Lonely Planet Guides”.

Needless to say, I left there without cream. I suppose I could have gone to another pharmacy, but after the horrors of my initial attempt, and the ever worsening look of horror on the face of that poor pharmacist (who may or may not be scarred for life), I chose to wait until we got back state-side.


And THAT, folks, if the  bonus post for the night. Because I haven’t written in a while, and I’m too tired to edit. So, writing without editing. How’s it working out for me? Leave your hate mail below.

25 responses to “I don’t know the international sign for “Do my panties smell like rye?”

  1. Sofia Leo says:

    “Ik denk dat ik een schimmelinfectie” You know, just in case you go back to the Netherlands without your cream 🙂

  2. rainey says:

    BAHAHAHA! Great one! I have this great visual of you (or someone I pretend is you, since I have never really seen you) jumping around and grabbing your crotch in the best Michael Jackson fashion…you are so lucky you did not get arrested!
    Also, because I am ME, I copied the reply of Sofia Leo (“Ik denk dat ik een schimmelinfectie”) and googled it…most of the page was about your aforementioned problem, but one stood out. It stated: “I think I have a fungal infection of the hotel…Trip Advisor” THIS MADE ME GIGGLE. So, thanks to you both for the laughs tonight.

  3. The Frantic Blogster says:

    Wait, you were in the Netherlands and they didn’t speak English? Where were you? Lutjebroek? Klazienaveen? Or another village with 2 inhabitants? Most Dutch speak English. With a very flat Dutch accent, but still.

    Also, the Flemish speak Dutch, not the other way around.

    I just wanted to set that straight. Don’t hate me please. I feel sorry for you and the yeast infection ordeal.

    • H. Stern says:

      Einschede. And I don’t hate you. I appreciate you sharing the knowledge. It was YEARS ago, so maybe I knew that fact at the time? I don’t know.

      I remember it was clean, and everyone was nice, though!

  4. Wouldn’t it have been more effective to simply pull down your pants and shove her nose in your crotch?

  5. I was in a small village on the Baja with a blistered lip from the sun. Same thing as your story..until the police arrived. The clerk thought I was insane with syphlis.(just a sun blister honest) – John

    • H. Stern says:

      Syphilis? That’s REALLY specific. I think mine just thought I liked walking into places and doing fertility dances.

      Little does she know that that’s my WEEKEND activity. Silly woman!

  6. my gay mom says:

    I’ve definitely tried to overcome the language barrier with similar “interpretive dance/seizures,” which is how I ended up with 13 pounds of chicken sausage in South Brazil.

  7. lillylion says:

    “-Ok, a lot of these gestures seem to be centered around her vag… she must need tampons!”

    Pee’d self with laughter. Thank you!

    • H. Stern says:

      …………..I don’t know the sign for “I just peed myself” either. I would fail at vaginal travel. Which is traveling with a vagina, not traveling IN a vagina. I don’t have a car that small.

  8. ekgo says:

    OH, I’m crying. I am crying and nodding because I know how this is. Well, ok, I don’t. Not the yeast infection part, anyway, which, to be honest, is what makes the story so much more hilarious! And on a sidenote, I found out that witch hazel will cure many ills that befall you between your legs, including giant mounds of infected flesh brought about by bad wax jobs. You know, just in case you find that happening to you.

    No, but, anyway, my traumatic pantomime was about pizza. I lived in Seoul with my very long-time friend (and I just posted the link to this post on her FB wall because sharing is caring) and one night, we decided to splurge and get pizza for dinner from a place that made surprisingly pizza-like pizza! I stopped in on my way home. My plan was to place the order then tell them that my blonde American friend who was wearing pigtails would be by at 4:00 pm to pick up our pizza and that I would be paying in advance.
    I pointed at the pizza I wanted. Ordering was actually super easy. And then I told them that “Ummm, meegook songsengneem” (American teacher) *pantomime pigtails* “la la la la la, ‘anyong haseyo!'” <–that's her walking in and saying hi "Umm…" *pointing at my watch" "Sa! Sa!" (4! 4!) *pantomiming taking pizza* "Kamsa-hamnida! Anyong!" <–that's her saying thank you and goodbye *pantomiming leaving with pizza*
    To be honest, it was an amazing performance and had there been some sort of agent in the room, I'd be on Broadway today. It was THAT good.
    The kid looked at me and said, "An American teacher with pigtails is going to come get the pizza at 4:00?"
    WELL SHIT! When did these people start speaking perfect English and if they could do that, what the hell was I in the country for?
    They laughed at me and what was worse, I had no way of warning April so she walks in a little after 4 and they all start busting up and miming pigtails at her.
    And that is the stuff of memories.

    • H. Stern says:

      My son was asleep on me when I read this. He woke up because I was laughing too hard.


      • ekgo says:

        It’s YOUR fault for not learning the FIRST time that happened! What is WRONG with you that you read comments while your baby sleeps?
        Oh…wait…there’s no other time you can read comments, huh?
        Ok, then, what’s WRONG with you that you find so many things FUNNY?

        • H. Stern says:

          Word. My bad. Whatever. He’ll learn to sleep through it. I think. I don’t really know… I just keep telling him to sack up, but I don’t think he’s listening.

          • ekgo says:

            Just rub whiskey on his gums. My grandparents did that to me. They said I was teething but I know it was to make me sleep. And look? I’m not an alcoholic and I’m a contributing member of society so obviously, it is FINE to give your children alcohol. Based solely on my experience as a baby.

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