Teach children to curse without meaning it so everyone who doesn’t understand will hate them!

A: F**k you!

B: What did you say?

A: (silent)

B: Excuse me, did you say something?

A: (silent)

B: I could have sworn I heard you say–

A: F**king idiot.

B: Ok, you definitely just called me a f**king idiot.

A: No I didn’t. Piece of sh*t.

B: Yes you did. I just heard you! I was talking and you sai–

A: F**king idiot.

B: You did it again!

A: Piece of sh*t, you mean like this? You are a f**king idiot?

B: Yes, stop that! Stop calling me a f**king idiot!

A: F**king idiot, piece of sh*t, that is not what I meant. F**king idiot.

B: What do you mean that’s not what I meant? (Punches A in the nose)

A: Piece of sh*t!! Why did you punch me?

B: Because you won’t stop calling me a f**king idiot.

A: F**king idiot, I did not.

B: You f**king did. (punches A again)

A: Piece of sh*t! Stop that!

B: Stop calling me a f**king idiot!

A: I didn’t! F**king idiot, I might have said F**king idiot, but that’s not what I meant.

B: What do you mean that’s not what you meant?

A: Piece of sh*t, it’s a test, see?

B: What’s a test?

A: Piece of sh*t!

C: What’s going on here?

A: This guy called me a f**king idiot and a piece of sh*t.

C: Oh that. It’s a test to see how well you read people. Someone taught him to curse wrong.

B: What?

A: F**king idiot!

C: When he was a child he was taught different words for things than most people. So when he says f**king idiot, he means, ‘How can it possibly be so difficult for people to communicate?’

B: He means, ‘Isn’t it unfortunate how difficult it is for people to communicate?’

A: Yeah. F**king idiot, it really gets me down.

B: This is a test to see how well I read people?

A: F**king idiot.

C: Yes, if you understand what he means, you aren’t offended.

B: When he calls me a f**king idiot?

C: Yes, because he doesn’t mean f**king idiot. To him that means ‘how can it possibly be so difficult for people to communicate?’ When he was little someone taught him to translate the thoughts into words wrong. Do you understand?

B: Not really.

A: F**king idiot.

B: It’s like a code?

A: Let’s hump!

C: They said they thought it would help people learn to read each other better. His whole family is like this. His brother says, ‘I will knife all your friends’ when he means ‘how are you doing.’

B: Someone taught them to say the wrong words, on purpose.

A: Piece of sh*t, let’s hump.

B: Did he just say ‘let’s hump?’

A: That means ‘now we’re getting somewhere.’

B: Oh.

D: What’s going on here?

A: Piece of sh*t.

D: What did he say?

B: He said piece of sh*t but that isn’t what he meant.

D: What did he mean?

B: I don’t f**king know. Ask him!

D: Ask him what does piece of sh*t mean?

B: I’ll ask him. Why does he keep saying piece of sh*t?

A: Piece of sh*t means ‘I hate being a part of this test.’

B: Makes sense.

C: Really it might mean ‘I hate being a part of this f**king test.’ What do you think?

B: Wait.. I don’t f**king know!!

A: Violent brute.

C: You don’t know?

B: What did he say?

C: ‘Violent brute’ means ‘don’t hurt me.’

B: I’m not going to hurt him. Doesn’t he know that?

A: No, he can’t read people at all. Otherwise this test wouldn’t work. Make sense?

B: I don’t f**king know!!

D: I don’t f**king know either!!

A: Piece of sh*t. It’s raining trash on your head.

D: It’s raining trash on your head? What does that mean?

C: That means I’m sorry.


There is an entire science around interpreting inner dialog. One classic example is when we tell ourselves, “I don’t like that woman, she’s not that beautiful,” of course we mean we are head over heels in love with her, but uncertain about our chances of getting her to feel the same way.

I remember one night in a coffeeshop telling the barista, “I would never date a guy like that,” about ten times. Of course, I meant something rather different, and ended up spending many wonderful years with the guy I would “never date”–

For years after that every time I went into the coffeeshop she was a little angry with me and said, “You said you would never date a guy like that, and here you are with him all these years later!” She felt I’d tricked her somehow maybe.

I guess no one ever taught her the arcane business of translating what we think into what we mean. It’s not hard at all if you can find a good teacher. One rule of thumb I’ve heard is that say the opposite of what we think and think the opposite of what we mean.

Another few tips: saying you are tired really means you are sad and asking if someone wants to do something means you want to do it (not that you want them to do it, that you want to do it yourself).

Maybe there goes the nighttime?

Catch my drift

What if your way of saying for “do you catch my drift” meant “broadcast widely” or “tell everyone” in another language?

I remember practicing the phrase “catch my drift” with my dad again and again as a little kid, he would say it with this funny look and then I would say it and he would laugh. Also “rendezvous” and “enthusiastic” and “appropriate.” If you didn’t know English, those words could mean just about anything.

Crossing cultural lines opens up this opportunity to mess with people. It is just a question of whether it is harmless fun or something more malicious.

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