Open to New Cultural Experiences, But Possessing Poor Language Skills

It was an easy mistake to make.

I was in the bathroom at our hotel in Zermatt. On a shelf, I spied a fetchingly red packet. It had the words “Serviette Lustrante” and “Schuh-Glanz-Tuch” printed in gold.

Now, I am open to, even curious, about new bathroom experiences. And in Europe, more than the States, there is a lovely tradition of wet-naps for the butt. Any parent in the US will be familiar and appreciative of this concept, called baby wipes.

My language skills are decidedly not so global. I tend to get by on meager but passionate attempts at speaking the local language, a smile and hand gesturing. And then I speak English. By this point, I have usually convinced the person I am talking to, usually someone working in a store, that I am sincere in my attempts and, also, never going to communicate to them in their local language. They either take pity on me, want to expedite my departure from their store, or probably both. They start to speak English or bring someone over who does.

I didn’t have anyone to help translate what was on the packet in the bathroom, but I saw “Serviette” and I was pretty certain it translated as “napkin” or “wipe.” And “Lustrante” sure sounded promising. Who wouldn’t want a lustrous bottom? I was excited. It would be like a car wash for the butt: Always opt for the extra coat of fabulous. The last word cinched it: My brain read “Tuch” and it was a no-brainer to figure out it was “Tush.” It was time for my Swiss Alps High Mountain Cleansing Experience.

Until I turned over the package on my way to give it a spin. In English: “Shoe Shine Towel.”

Who knows, maybe it would have been just the thing.

Wipes in the Bathroom + Poor Language Skills = Awkward

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