Yesterday I went to a friend’s bachelorette party and we played Cards Against Humanity (CAH). The game is super simple. Each round one player asks a question from a Black Card, something like “What is George W. Bush thinking right now?” Players answer with their funniest White Card, each containing a totally inappropriate phase or word. My friend and bride-to-be is Venezuelan so most of the women playing were native Spanish speakers. They used their cell phones throughout the game to look up unfamiliar words and phrases. But once in a while, a card popped up that was so seeped in Americana that it required a CAH savant.
As the Puerto Rican in the room, and the closest thing to true American, I bravely stepped up to the plate. I provided definitions and context for phrases such as road head, glory hole, folly of man, lumberjack porn and reluctant anal. And in this process I came to some important realizations. First, my knowledge of the English language is deeper and more inappropriate than I thought. Second, there are some things I just can’t say in Spanish.
When said in my native language the White Cards were not only NOT funny – they were scary, gross, and made me want to wash my mouth with soap. It turns out that my English personality is willing to go places that my Spanish personality will never go. I’m like the linguistic version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, sometimes I "jaja" and others I "haha".
This experience also reminded me of how incredibly different Spanish and English humor are (a thought that I won’t develop further since it's much bigger than a blog post). Suffice it to say that I don’t think CAH can be translated into Spanish. But neither can most of my thoughts and conversations. And that’s terrifying. Haha!